Much like Wendy McCaw, but much more open about it...Nancy Crawford Hall bought the Santa Ynez Valley Journal a little over a year ago but has made no bones about battling any and every expansion plan put forth by the Chumash Casino and the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. Capitol Weekly wrote a story about it
Vincent Armenta, Chair of the tribe, took his own pot shots at Crawford Hall and the Santa Ynez Journal in the Capitol Weekly shortly thereafter
If that weren't enough, James Lynch who is a "nationally recognized Ethno-historical, research consultant" went so far as to question the tribe's legitimacy and even the genealogy of Chairman Armenta in yet another Capitol Weekly op-ed piece
. He wonders out loud whether their reservation is really theirs.
If you've watched Santa Ynez Valley/3rd District politics for awhile, you know that the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians rarely let anyone else have the last word -- mainly because if you say something long and strong enough, it becomes the truth for many. The interestingly-named-for-his-position Sam Cohen -- "Government and Legal Affairs Specialist for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians" wrote yet another op-ed piece
deriding Lynch's assertions.
In Sunday's News-Press, Travis Armstrong jumped into the fray and criticized Crawford Hall. No stranger to bias, Armstrong knows of what he speaks. Armstrong, who does disclose his Native American ancestry whenever required, must have wondered whether he was writing about News-Press North. Maybe not.
Legitimacy and blood-lines in Native American tribes is a tricky issue, but the Pechanga Tribe recently ejected 140 members
of a family that had lived on the reservation since 1897 (also LA Times, 9/9/07). In a democratic tribe where incomes of tens of thousands in casino monies a month are contingent on membership, much is at stake.
A frequent reader who gave me the content and the links which make up this post (which I researched as well) notes that "It is rare that history and genealogy enter public debate in the US. Weirder still is that modern DNA testing could in principle sort out these issues, but almost certainly will not be used."
Why? This is not a new issue as there are African-American Indians
in Oklahoma who have been shunned and denied DNA test proof that they are Native American enough to belong to a tribe. Add land use planning into the mix and you have a battle royale, a thrilla' in Manilla that is far from over. The gloves have been off for some time -- but will an admittedly-biased newspaper owner (who enjoys the support of the majority of her community) have her way or will state law which can name the Chumash Highway intervene and say 'no way'?
Labels: Chumash, Santa Ynez Valley