BIA upholds Robinson Rancheria tribal disenrollments

Robinson Rancheria Indian tribe announced Thursday that the Pacific Regional Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs has upheld the disenrollment from tribal citizneship of 45 people who were previously improperly enrolled in the tribe.

“The federal government has long recognized that a tribe’s right to define its own membership is central to its existence and must be dealt with internally,” Tribal Chair Tracey Avila said. “The regional director was right to leave this matter to the tribe. In upholding the Tribal Council’s decision to disenroll the 45 people, the regional director also recognized that the disenrollment process was done fairly and in accordance with the requirements of both tribal and federal law. The tribe provided those who were disenrolled with due process by giving them notice of the disenrollment and an opportunity to challenge the decision.”

The disenrollment of the former tribal citizens resulted from the discovery in 2008 that a provision added to the tribe’s enrollment ordinance in 1982 expanded the criteria for tribal citizenship beyond that permitted by the tribe’s constitution. The Tribal Council struck down that provision and notified people who were enrolled under the unconstitutional provision that they had to demonstrate that they were eligible to be citizens under the criteria set forth in the tribe’s constitution.

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