Marc Benjamin of the Fresno Bee wrote an interesting piece regarding a new lawsuit filed in the Northern District of California against Picayune Rancheria.
This lawsuit is grounded in the 1979 Tillie Hardwick litigation (my post here) that effectively un-terminated several California rancherias from Congress’ California Rancheria Act of 1958. Any member of a terminated tribe can regain federal recognition if they can show that they (or their ancestors) was a member of the original Tillie Hardwick class that filed suit against the United States back in the 70′s/80′s; and, demonstrating that at the time of the Hardwick settlement, at least one class member from the Rancheria owned real property within the original Rancheria boundaries.
That is what the plaintiffs are doing in this case, claiming that their ancestor, Maryan Ramirez, was a Chukchansi Indian who was an original class member, was the only person entitled to establish the tribal government of Chukchansi. However, when Ramirez died, her family declined to negotiate with the BIA over how to re-establish the tribal government. Then, another family stepped in and negotiated with the BIA — whose ancestor was not an original Tillie Hardwick class member — and established the rancheria we all know today. Now, Ramirez’s descendants have filed suit to assert their rightful claim to the government.
I have no clue why they waited so long, but this will prove to be interesting.
The motion to enforce the judgment was filed on June 7, 2012 along with several, voluminous exhibits that I haven’t had time to sort through yet.