Muwekma Ohlone Tribe
A Brief History and The Federal Recognition Process

 

The present-day Muwekma Ohlone Indian Tribe is comprised of all of the known surviving Native American lineages aboriginal to the San Francisco Bay region who trace their ancestry through the Missions Dolores, Santa Clara, and San Jose. The aboriginal homeland of the Muwekma Tribe includes the following counties: San Francisco, San Mateo, most of Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, and portions of Napa, Santa Cruz, Solano and San Joaquin. This large contiguous geographical area which historically crosscuts aboriginal linguistic and tribal boundaries fell under the sphere of influence of the aforementioned three missions between 1776 and 1836. The missionization policies deployed by the Catholic Church and militarily supported by the Hispanic Empire, brought many distantly related, and in some cases already intermarried, tribal groups together at the missions.

 

Comprehensive genealogical research of the Mission Records (birth, death, marriage) traces the surviving Muwekma lineages of the late 19th and 20th centuries back to their aboriginal villages. The present-day enrolled Muwekma lineages are represented by the: Armija/Thompson descended families, the Santos-Pinos-Juarez descended families, the Guzman/Nonessa descended families, and the Marine-Peralta/ Marine-Alvarez/Galvan/ Marine-Sanchez/ Marine-Munoz/ Munoz-Guzman, Marine-Arellano/ Marine-Thompson/Elston/Ruano descended families.

 

These Muwekma lineages have been traced back respectively to the Seunen and Alson Ohlone tribal groups of the greater Fremont Plain/East Bay, to the Chupcan and Julpune Bay Miwok and Tamcan, Passasimi and Yatchikumne North Valley Yokut tribal groups of the interior valleys (Mt. Diablo, San Joaquin Delta and Stockton region), to the Jalquin Ohlone tribal group of the San Leandro/San Lorenzo/Hayward/Oakland region of the East Bay, and to the Napian/Karquin Ohlone tribal group of the Carquinez Straits of the North Bay. The Jalquins were a neighboring tribal group who lived north of the Seunens and some people from both tribes were collectively baptized at Mission Dolores in San Francisco, while most of the other tribal groups were principally baptized at Missions San Jose and Santa Clara.

 

One of the direct ancestral lines of the Armija/Thompson and the Santos/Pinos/Juarez lineages is traced back to a direct ancestor named Silvestre Avendano of the Alson Ohlone tribal group, who was one of the first 300 Indians baptized at Mission San Jose after its founding in 1797. Another direct ancestor was Primo Vueslla of the Seunen Ohlone tribal group whom originally had villages established within the Dublin, San Ramon, Pleasanton, and the Livermore Valley regions. Primo was born in 1794 and baptized at Mission San Jose on April 2, 1803 at the age of nine years. Primo later married Remedia Lal-Iapa, the daughter of Radegunda Toleppata, of the Chupcan Tribe. The Chupcans originally lived within the Concord and Mt. Diablo region. Remedia was born in 1803 and baptized at Mission San Jose on February 27, 1811. The descendants of Silvestre through his son Jose Elias Armija and Primo Vueslla and Remedia Lal-Iapa through their grandchildren Delfina Guerrera Armija and Benedicta Gonzalez Pinos are enrolled in the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe. Delfina was the mother of Magdalena Armija Thompson and Benedicta was the mother of Peregrina Pinos Santos and Margarita Pinos Juarez.

 

One of the direct ancestors of the Marine lineage was Liberato Culpecse of the Jalquin Ohlone tribal group whom resided in the East Bay. It was into the complex and rapidly changing world of the emergent Hispanic Empire, that Liberato Culpecse, at the age of 14 years old (born 1787) was baptized on November 18, 1801 at Mission Dolores, along with other members of his tribe. Seven years later in 1808, Liberato Culpecse had married his first wife and she died before 1818. After the death of his wife, Liberato was allowed to relocate to the Mission San Jose region, where he met his second wife Efrena Quennatole. Efrena Quennatole who was Napian/Karquin Ohlone was born in 1797 and baptized at Mission San Jose on January 1, 1815 at the age of 18 years. Father Fortuny married Liberato and Efrena (who by then was a widow) on July 13, 1818.

 

Liberato Culpecse and Efrena Quennatole had a son named Jose Liberato Dionisio (a.k.a. Liberato Nonessa). Liberato and Efrena later had a daughter named Maria Efrena. Both Jose Liberato Dionisio and Maria Efrena married other Mission San Jose Indians. Liberato Dionisio's second wife was Maria de Jesus who was the daughter of Captain Rupardo Leyo (Leopardo) and was the younger sister of Captain Jose Antonio. Liberato Dionisio and Maria de Jesus had several children including Francisca Nonessa Guzman, born May 7, 1867.

 

Maria Efrena had married an Indian man named Pamfilio Yakilamne (from the Ilamne Tribe of the Sacramento Delta region) and they had several children including their youngest daughter Avelina Cornates (Marine). During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Francisca Nonessa Guzman and Avelina Cornates Marine became two the founding matriarchs of the present-day Guzman and Marine lineages. They, along with the other tribal families, comprised the historic Federally Recognized Verona Band tribal community residing at the following East Bay rancherias: San Lorenzo, Alisal (Pleasanton), Del Mocho (Livermore), (El Molino) Niles, Sunol, and later Newark. Avelina Cornates Marine was born in November 1863 and baptized at Mission San Jose on January 17, 1864. By the late 1880s she had met Raphael Marine, who came to the United States from Costa Rica, but oral tradition indicates that he was originally from Sicily. Avelina Cornates and Raphael Marine had nine living children by 1903, six of whom have surviving descendents presently enrolled in the Muwekma Tribe.

 

The Guzman lineage is traced back through Jose Guzman's family. Jose Guzman was born around 1854 and died September 1934. Jose's paternal grandparents were Habencio Tuchuachi and Habencia Luitatsme of the Passasimi/Yatchikumne North Valley Yokuts Tribe from Stockton. Their son, Habencio Zapasi was born in 1813. Habencio Zapasi later married Petra Coronathe of the Lakisamne and Josemite North Valley Yokuts Tribes whom resided along the San Joaquin and Stanislaus River drainages. Petra's parents were Nimfador Atchatni (born 1773) and Nimfadora Majalate (born 1786). Jose Guzman was married several times to different Indian women from the Pleasanton and Niles Rancherias. On May 1, 1876, Jose married Angustia Lasoyo, the daughter of Captain Jose Antonio and Celsa, and had several children with her before she died.

 

The descendants of Jose Guzman and Angustia Lasoyo through their granddaughter Catherine Peralta and her husband, Dario Marine, the son of Avelina Cornates, are enrolled in the Muwekma Tribe. After the death of Angustia, on May 20, 1881, Jose Guzman married Ambrosia Binoco, the sister of Jose Binoco, however all of their children died and left no surviving offspring. Eleven years later, on August 21, 1891, Jose Guzman married Francisca Nonessa, the granddaughter of Liberato Culpecse and Efrena Quennatole, and they had six children together including Tony Guzman, Alfred Guzman and Jack Guzman. All three Guzman brothers served in World War I. The descendants of Alfred Guzman and Minnie Higuera, and Jack Guzman and Flora Munoz (Victoria Marine's daughter) are enrolled in the Muwekma Tribe. Since 1984, the descendants of Dario Marine and Catherine Peralta, Dolores Marine Alvarez/Piscopo/Galvan, Ramona Marine Sanchez, Mercedes Marine Arellano/Garcia, Victoria Marine Munoz, Trina Marine Elston/Thompson/Ruano, Magdelana Armija Marshall/Thompson, Peregrina Pinos and George Santos, Francisca Nonessa and Jose Guzman have served in leadership positions on either the Muwekma Tribal and/or Elders Councils.

 

 

THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE EAST BAY RANCHERIAS AND THE AMERICAN CONQUEST PERIOD

 

Prior to the American conquest of California 1846-1848, some of the secularized Mission Indian families obtained formal Mexican land grants, while the majority of the others found refuge on the rancho lands of friendly Californio families. After the American takeover of California, there were Indian rancherias established on rancho lands in the South Bay, West Bay and especially in the East Bay. At least six Muwekma Indian rancheria communities emerged and maintained themselves during the 19th and early 20th centuries in the East Bay.

 

These rancherias were located at San Leandro/San Lorenzo (1830s-1860s), Alisal near Pleasanton (1839-1916), Sunol (1890s-1917), Del Mocho in Livermore (1830s-1930s), El Molino in Niles (1830s-1910) and later, Newark. (Circa. 1914 - present-day). During the 1880s, George and Phoebe Apperson Hearst purchased part of the old 1839 Bernal/Sunol/Pico Rancho located south and west of Pleasanton, which included part the Alisal Rancheria with approximately 125 Indians residing there on the land. Escaping the cold and foggy summers of San Francisco, the Hearst's built their Hacienda del Poso de Verona (later renamed Castlewood Country Club) on this newly acquired land. Western Pacific Railroad also built a train station there so that the Victorian elite and other guests could visit with Mrs. Hearst at her Hacienda. This railway stop was named Verona Station.

 

In 1905, as a result of the discovery of the 18 unratified California Indian Treaties (negotiated between 1851-1852), Mr. Charles E. Kelsey of San Jose, who was originally affiliated with the Northern Association for California Indians was named Special Indian Agent to California by the Indian Service Bureau in Washington, D.C. Agent Kelsey was charged by the Bureau to conduct a Special Indian Census, and identify all of the landless and homeless tribes and bands residing from south Central and Northern California. Based upon the results of Kelsey's census and the discovery of the 18 unratified treaties, Congress passed multiple Appropriation Acts beginning in 1906 through 1937, for the purpose of purchasing "home sites" for these intact "politically identifiable" California Indian tribes and bands.

 

One of the bands identified by Agent Kelsey was the Verona Band of Alameda County residing near Pleasanton, Niles (and other towns surrounding Mission San Jose). The direct ancestors of the present-day Muwekma Tribe who comprised the Verona Band became Federally Acknowledged by the U.S. Government through the Appropriation Acts of Congress beginning in 1906. Between the years 1906 and 1927, the Verona Band fell under the direct jurisdiction of the Indian Service Bureau in Washington, D.C. and California, and by 1914, under the Reno and Sacramento Agencies. During this time, the U. S. Government and Indian Service Bureau agents attempted to purchase land for many of these Federally Recognized, but landless California Indian bands.

 

To this effort, both the Indian Service Bureau agents and the Indian bands were faced with two basic problems:

 

1)      Many Californian landowners did not want Indians living next to them, so they would not sell suitable parcels of land, and,

2)      Individuals who were willing to sell parcels to the government wanted greatly inflated prices, usually at prices much higher than what was allocated to purchase lands, or even the value of the land.

 

In January 1927, Sacramento Superintendent Col. Lafayette A. Dorrington (1923-1931) received a detailed office directive from Assistant Commissioner E. B. Merritt for him to list by county all of the tribes and bands under his jurisdiction that had yet to obtain a land base for their "home sites." This directive was issued so that Congress could plan its allocation budget for fiscal year 1929. Dorrington, who was chronically derelict in his duties, decided not to respond to this, as well as previous requests, and as a result, he yet again received another strongly worded directive in May 1927 from the Assistant Commissioner.

 

To this second directive, Dorrington reluctantly responded by generating a report, which in effect, he illegally, unilaterally and administratively terminated the rights of approximately 135 tribes and bands throughout California from their Federally Acknowledged status by completely dismissing the needs of these landless tribal groups. The very first casualty on Dorrington's hit list was the Verona Band of Alameda County. Without any benefit of an on-site visitation or needs assessment, which he was charged by the Assistant Commissioner to conduct, Dorrington opined:

 

"There is one band in Alameda County commonly known as the Verona Band, … located near the town of Verona; these Indians were formerly those that resided in close proximity of the Mission San Jose. It does not appear at the present time that there is need for the purchase of land for the establishment of their homes."

 

Thus with the stroke of a pen and without benefit of any due process or direct communication with the tribe, the Muwekma/Verona Band along with the other 134 tribes and bands of California, lost their formal status as Federally Recognized Tribes. They essentially were knocked off the "radar screen" and were considered ineligible under the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act to organize as tribes.

 

In no other state within the U.S. had such an illegal termination of so many tribal groups occurred as a result of the callous actions and dereliction of duty by a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) agent. Afterwards, Dorrington, still being prodded by BIA officials in Washington about the needs of the landless and homeless Indians in California, offered his opinion to Commissioner Rhoads. In a letter dated April 23, 1930, Dorrington wrote:

 

"…Kindly be respectfully advised that the matter of land purchase for homeless Indians has really been given constant and diligent attention throughout the current fiscal year to date and an earnest effort has been made to fully meet the needs of the Indians to the fullest extent without unnecessary or unjustified expenditure of funds, believing that to be the spirit of the law and your wishes in the premises. …"

 

"It has been my opinion, and therefore my belief, for several years that the best interests of the Indians will be served through an arrangement whereby those concerned may be settled on the already acquired land instead of procuring additional which cannot be turned to beneficial use and occupancy by the Indians in mind because of their inability financially to establish themselves thereon."

 

"…In its final analysis, Mr. Commissioner, kindly understand and know that additional land for homeless Indians of California is not required and therefore further demands on the appropriation for the fiscal year 1930 are not warranted or justified."

 

By July 1931, Dorrington had either quit or was transferred and was replaced by O. H. Lipps as Superintendent of the Sacramento Agency. Lipps responded to an inquiry written by Assistant Commissioner J. Henry Scattergood with specific concerns about the conditions of the homeless California Indians for whom land was purchased:

 

"Receipt is acknowledged of your letter, dated June 30, 1931, relating to the matter of purchasing land for homeless Indians of California. …I am addressing this letter to you personally and calling the subject matter thereof to your special attention for the reason that there appears to be a grave lack of understanding in the Office regarding this whole matter of providing homes for homeless California Indians." …

 

… "I think it is all the more important that this matter be brought to your personal attention at this time in view of your recent visit to California with the Senate Committee and your familiarity with the sentiment and feeling in this State with respect to the past administration of the affairs of the California Indians."

 

"The conditions on some of these rancherias are simply deplorable. No one can view many of them and observe the conditions under which the Indians are trying to exist without the feeling that some one is guilty of gross neglect or inefficiency and that a cruel injustice has been meted out to a helpless people under the name of beneficent kindness… And yet there are those who say that I will never do to let the local authorities have charge of the affairs of the Indians lest the Indians be neglected and abuse. …I have not yet seen a single instance where the federal government has done anything like so much for the improvement of the homes and living conditions of the Indians under this jurisdiction as has been done by Sonoma County for the Indians residing on the Stewart's Point Rancheria."

 

"Now it seems to me that the thing for us to do is to look at the facts in the face and admit that in the past the Government has been woefully negligent and inefficient, and then start out with the determination, as far as possible, to rectify our past mistakes. It is difficult to locate the blame, but somewhere along the line there appears to have been gross negligence or crass indifference. If Congress has been honestly and fully advised of conditions and has refused or failed to give relief asked for, then the Indian Bureau is not responsible for the neglect of the Indians. On the other hand, if Congress believed and intended by appropriating funds for the purchase of lands for homeless Indians and improvements thereon that good and suitable lands would be purchased and houses constructed and improvements made, then we have neglected to do our duty."

 

Although left completely landless, and in some instances completely homeless, between 1929 and 1932 all of the surviving Verona Band/Muwekma lineages enrolled with the BIA under the 1928 California Indian Jurisdictional Act which were approved by the Secretary of Interior in the pending claims settlement.

 

Concurrently, during the first part of the 20th century (between 1884 and 1934), renowned anthropologists and linguists such as Jeremiah Curtin, Alfred Kroeber, E. W. Gifford, James Alden Mason, C. Hart Merriam and John Peabody Harrington interviewed the last fluent speakers of the "Costanoan" and other Indian languages spoken at the East Bay rancherias. It was during this time period that Verona Band Elders still employed the linguistic term "Muwekma" which means "la Gente or the People" in Chocheńo, the Ohlone (or Costanoan) language spoken in the East San Francisco Bay region.

_______________________________________

 

Even before California Indians legally became citizens in 1924, during World War I, Muwekma men served overseas in the United States Armed Forces, and four of them (Tony Guzman, Alfred Guzman, Henry Nichols and Joseph Aleas) are buried in the Golden Gate National Cemetery. Jack Guzman and his nephew, Frank Guzman also served in World War I, are buried in Centerville and in the National Cemetery in Riverside, California. Later, during World War II almost all of the Muwekma men served overseas in the various branches of the Armed Forces. Between 1931 and 1940, Domingo Marine attended Indian Boarding School at Sherman Institute in Riverside, and there he met his future wife Pansy Potts (Maidu Tribe). In 1940 Domingo enlisted in the Marine Corps. Between 1944 and 1947, Jack Guzman, Jr. and his sister, Reyna attended Indian Boarding school at Chemawa, Oregon. Still landless, and completely ignored by the BIA but functioning as an unorganized tribal band, the Muwekma Tribe maintained its distinctive social ties and culture.

 

Between 1948 and 1957, the various heads of Muwekma households enroll with the BIA during the second enrollment period. During the early 1960s, a relationship was forged between Muwekma Ohlone families and the American Indian Historical Society located in San Francisco. The focus of this relationship especially centered on the potential destruction of the Ohlone Cemetery located in Fremont. The cemetery contained over 4,000 converted Mission San Jose Indian graves, as well as, the immediate relations of the Muwekma families who were buried there as late as 1925. During the 1960s the Ohlone Indian Cemetery was saved from destruction. In 1962, under the leadership of Dolores Marine Alvarez/Piscopo/Galvan and her daughter Dottie Galvan Lameira, they began to weed and protect the cemetery. Dolores Marine's two sons Benjamin Michael Galvan and Philip Galvan later became important leaders in this effort. By 1971, the title transferred to the non-profit tribal entity the Ohlone Indian Tribe, Inc. Afterwards, the maintenance of the cemetery has come under the stewardship of one of the Galvan families.

 

During the early 1980's, many Muwekma families came together to continue to conduct research on their tribe's history and genealogy, and they also considered applying for Federal Recognition. Between 1982 and 1984, the Muwekma Tribal Council was formally organized. By 1989, the Tribal Council passed a resolution to petition the U.S. Government for Federal Acknowledgment. On January 25, 1995, the Tribe's historical petition was submitted during a White House meeting of California Indian leaders. Additional research and documentation continued to be submitted, and on May 24, 1996 the BIA's Branch of Acknowledgment and Research (BAR) made a positive determination of previous unambiguous Federal Recognition (under 25 CFR 83.8) stating that:

 

"Based upon the documentation provided, and the BIA's background study on Federal acknowledgment in California between 1887 and 1933, we have concluded on a preliminary basis that the Pleasanton or Verona Band of Alameda County was previous acknowledged between 1914 and 1927.

 

"The band was among the groups, identified as bands, under the jurisdiction of the Indian agency at Sacramento, California. The agency dealt with the Verona Band as a group and identified it as a distinct social and political entity."

 

Even after obtaining a positive determination of "previous unambiguous Federal Recognition" the Muwekma Tribe still had to submit additional documentation (total of six linear feet) in order to satisfy the BAR's seven mandatory criteria (25 CFR 83.7).

 

Almost two years later, on March 26, 1998, as a result of submitting several hundred pages of additional documentation, Deborah Maddox, Division Chief of Tribal Operations, issued a letter to the Tribe stating that: "A review of the Muwekma submissions shows that there is sufficient evidence to review the petition on all seven of the mandatory criteria. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is placing the Muwekma petition on the ready for active consideration list as of March 26, 1998."

 

After being placed on "Ready Status," the Muwekma Tribal Council reviewed the Federal Registry and counted the number of tribes on both the "Active Consideration" and "Ready Status" lists. Muwekma was about the 24th tribe in line after factoring in both lists. Based upon the speed that BAR was processing tribal petitions, at the rate of approximately 1.5 petitions per year, it became very clear that it would take the BAR about 20 years before it would begin to review Muwekma's documented petition. The Tribal Council also wondered if there were any other tribes on either list with a formal determination of "previous unambiguous Federal recognition." The answer was "no." As a result, the Muwekma Tribal Council decided that a wait of 20 years was not acceptable to the Tribe, and therefore, sought alternative remedies. After failing to attain a date from the BAR (now called Office of Federal Acknowledgment) as to when the Tribe's petition would be reviewed, the Council had no choice except to consider legal action.

 

On December 8, 1999, the Muwekma Tribal Council and its legal consultants filed a law suit against the Interior Department/BIA - naming Secretary Bruce Babbitt and Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs (AS-IA) Kevin Gover, over the issue that the Muwekma Tribe as a previous Federally Recognized Tribe should not have to wait over 20 years to complete their reaffirmation process. This was a first in Indian Country and in the Courts. On June 30, 2000, Federal District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina, ruled in favor of the Muwekma Tribe and ordered the Interior Department to formulate a process to expedite the Muwekma's petition. On July 28, 2000, based upon the BIA's findings, Justice Urbina wrote in his Introduction of his Memorandum Opinion Granting the Plaintiff's Motion to Amend the Court's Order that:

 

"The Muwekma Tribe is a tribe of Ohlone Indians indigenous to the present-day San Francisco Bay area. In the early part of the Twentieth Century, the Department of the Interior ("DOI") recognized the Muwekma tribe as an Indian tribe under the jurisdiction of the United States." (Civil Case No. 99-3261 RMU D.D.C.)

 

Between September and October 2000, following the court order, and after consultation with BIA/BAR staff, Muwekma submitted another two Exhibit volumes which demonstrated how the 400 enrolled members of the tribe are descended from full-blooded ancestors or siblings of those ancestors listed on the three Federal Indian Population Schedules (Census) of 1900 and 1910 for Washington, Murray and Pleasanton Townships, Alameda County, and from Kelsey's 1905-1906 Special Indian Census.

 

As a result on October 30, 2000, the BAR and Tribal Services Division of the BIA, responded to the Court Order and issued the following statements and conclusions:

 

"Do current members ‘descend from' a previously recognized tribal entity?

… When combined with the members who have both types of ancestors, 100% of the membership is represented. Thus, analysis shows that the petition's membership can trace (and, based on a sampling, can document) its various lineages back to individuals or to one or more siblings of individuals appearing on the 1900, "Kelsey", and 1910 census enumerations described above."

 

On July 25, 2002, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren issued the following statement in support of the Muwekma's restoration on the floor of the House of Representatives:

"The Muwekma Ohlone Indian Tribe is a sovereign Indian Nation located within several counties in the San Francisco Bay Area since time immemorial.

 

"The Congress of the United States also recognized the Verona Band pursuant to Chapter 14 of Title 25 of the United States Code, which was affirmed by the United States Court of Claims in the Case of Indians of California v. United States (1942) 98 Ct. Cl.583.

 

"Meanwhile, as a result of inconsistent federal policies of neglect toward the California Indians, the government breached the trust responsibility relationship with the Muwekma tribe and left the Tribe landless and without either services or benefits. As a result, the Tribe has suffered losses and displacement. Despite these hardships the Tribe has never relinquished their Indian tribal status and their status was never terminated.

 

"Simultaneously, in the 1980's and 1990's, the United States Congress recognized the federal government's neglect of the California Indians and directed a Commission to study the history and current status of the California Indians and to deliver a report with recommendations. In the late 1990's the Congressional mandated report - the California Advisory Report, recommended that the Muwekma Ohlone tribe be reaffirmed to its status as a federally recognized tribe along with five other Tribes.

 

"I proudly support the long struggle of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe as they continue to seek justice and to finally, and without further delay, achieve their goal of their reaffirmation of their tribal status by the federal government. This process has dragged on long enough. I hope that the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Department of Interior will do the right thing and act positively to grant the Muwekma Ohlone tribe their rights as a Federally Recognized Indian Tribe. … To do anything else is to deny this tribe Justice. They have waited patiently and should not have to wait any longer."

 

On August 29, 2002, California Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante wrote a letter supporting the Tribe to Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs, Neil McCaleb

"I write to urge you to support Petition #111 by the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe for reaffirmation of Federal Acknowledgment.

 

"The Muwekma Ohlone Tribe meets all of the criteria for reaffirmation set by the court as well as the Bureau of Indian Affairs' acknowledgment criteria. The tribe is a previously recognized tribe. It has demonstrated that it has had a trust relationship with the United States from 1906 to the present and Congress has never terminated their relationship.

 

"The tribe's membership descend from an historical tribe and they are not members of any other Federally recognized tribe.

 

"After compiling data and completing extensive research, the Muwekma have presented a compelling case for the tribe's Federal Acknowledgment. I respectfully urge you and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to carefully review their Petition."

 

On September 6, 2002, the BIA made its Final Determination against the future of our tribe - the Bureau of Indian Affairs said in effect "yes, the Muwekma Tribe is a historic and previously Federally Recognized Tribe … and yes, the Muwekma Tribe was never legally ‘terminated' by any Act of Congress … and yes, 99% of the members descend from the previously Recognized tribe … but, NO! the BIA will not Acknowledge the Muwekma Tribe because as a landless tribe it does not meet the standards that the BAR staff subjectively and selectively employs in its Recognition Regulations." In retrospect, it appears now that the same BIA staff and solicitors whom bitterly opposed the Muwekma Tribe in their lawsuit, were the same people who made the Final Determination - a determination that AS-IA McCaleb just rubber-stamped. He never even independently looked at any of the tribe's evidence.

 

Nonetheless, under the BAR's Summary Conclusions Under the Criteria (25 CFR 83.7) of the Muwekma petition, the BIA did in fact determine that: "The review of all the evidence in the record concludes that the Muwekma petitioner has satisfied the requirements of 25 CFR 83.7 (d), (e), (f), and (g). That is, the petitioner's constitution and enrollment ordinance describe its membership criteria and governing procedures, its members have demonstrated their descent from the historical tribe (in this case, from the Verona band last acknowledged by the Federal Government in 1927…"

 

…In addition, Congress may consider taking legislative action to recognize petitioners which do not meet the specific requirements of the acknowledgment regulations but, nevertheless, have merit." (Pages 7-8)

 

At this point, the Muwekma Tribe had exhausted the regulatory process and through this arduous and demeaning process, the Tribe encountered the very same "gross negligence" and "crass indifference" with the current BIA bureaucrats and decision-makers as it had encountered seventy-five years earlier with Superintendent L. A. Dorrington in 1927.

 

Even with the supporting evidence contained in the 1998 Advisory Council on California Indian Policy's reports to the U.S. Congress on the present status of California Indians, this justice issue, like many other Native American civil rights and justice issues before it, has fallen upon deaf ears. The Congress once again has refused to act upon the very Commission that it has funded with taxpayer money in order to correct what it has deemed "errors of the past."

 

In the ACCIP report on Acknowledgment entitled Advisory Council on California Indian Policy Recognition Report - Equal Justice for California the Council issued the following conclusions about previously Federally Recognized tribes in California whom were disenfranchised by Sacramento Superintendent, Lafayette A. Dorrington:

 

"The Dorrington report provides evidence of previous federal acknowledgment for modern-day petitioners who can establish their connection to the historic bands identified therein. Clearly, the BIA "recognized" its trust obligations to these Indian bands when it undertook - pursuant to the authority of the Homeless California Indian Acts and the Allotment Act - to determine their living conditions and their need for land. The fact that some were provided with land and others were not did not diminish that trust.

"Among those California Indian groups that have petitioned for federal acknowledgment, there are several who can trace their origins to one or more of the bands identified in the Dorrington report. The Muwekma Tribe is one whose connection to the Verona Band (id, at 1) has been recently confirmed in a letter from the BAR, …"

 

The ACCIP completed its mandate to report back to the Congress on the issues confronting California Indian tribes and the Federal Recognition Process. A copy of the 1998 ACCIP final report was submitted by the Tribe to the BIA as part of its response to the BAR's initial "Proposed Findings." In their Final Determination the BAR made clear that it would not review or consider any evidence prior to 1927 and after 1985, even though it had encouraged the Tribe to do so during the Tribe's Technical Assistance meeting on November 7, 2001. The BAR staff sidestepped their own recommendation by stating:

 

"Given these conclusions of the Proposed Finding under criterion 83.7(a), that the period prior to 1927 is outside the period to be evaluated and that the petitioner met this criterion during the period after 1985, it is not necessary to respond to the petitioner's comments and arguments for those two time periods." (page 9)

 

 

The Muwekma Tribe is now in the process of responding to the Final Determination - the BIA's Final Solution to rid the United States of another legitimate historic tribe. The Tribe is presently seeking resolution through the U. S. District Courts. Hopefully, the Muwekma Tribe will once again prevail, by providing the evidence to an impartial third party - in this case the Justice System.

 

The Tribe intends to demonstrate that the BIA: 1) failed to protect the rights of our tribe, 2) failed to treat our Tribe equally with other tribes who, with similar legal histories, were administratively restored without having to go through the regulatory process, 3) failed in its professional and ethical responsibilities to evaluate our petition under the regulations in an objective and unbiased fashion (e.g., 25 CFR 83.6(d) "A criterion shall be considered met if the available evidence establishes a reasonable likelihood of the validity of the facts relating to that criterion. …" and 83.6(e) "Evaluation of petitions shall take into account historical situations and time periods for which evidence is demonstrably limited or not available. The limitations inherent in demonstrating the historical existence of community and political influence or authority shall also be taken into account," 4) failed to consider all the submitted evidence collectively for each decade of the 20th century and for each criterion, and, 5) violated the Administrative Procedures Act by virtue of the fact that the same BIA decision makers who opposed the Tribe in our lawsuit were the same people who made the Final determination.

 

On March 26, 2004, Congressman Richard Pombo (R), Chair of the House Committee on Resources wrote to Chairwoman Rosemary Cambra stating:

 

"The Committee on Resources will hold a Full Committee Oversight Hearing on Wednesday, March 31, 2004 … . The hearing will focus on the Federal recognition and acknowledgment process by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Among one of the subjects covered will be whether the current process is working properly and in a timely manner, and what alternatives exist to improve the system. I cordially invite you to testify at this hearing.

 

"You have had significant experience with this subject matter and information regarding your experience would be most helpful to the Committee. …"

 

Chairwoman Rosemary Cambra gave testimony before the House Committee on March 31, 2004 and offered an alternative for the Muwekma Tribe. Chairwoman Cambra, requested of Congressman Pombo to introduce legislation during this session to restore the Federally Acknowledged status of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe.

 

More recently, on April 21, 2004, former Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, Kevin Gover, provided testimony before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on proposed Senate Bill 297. In his testimony addressing the "Structural Issues with the Federal Acknowledgment Program" former AS-IA Gover provided the following statement:

 

"As has been well documented, I did not always agree with the judgments and opinions of BAR researchers and the attorneys from the Solicitor's office who advised the BAR. I came to believe that the BAR and its attorneys had been essentially unsupervised for many years and that the Assistant Secretary's office had become little more than a rubber stamp for their recommendations. …(Page 3-4) [Emphasis added]

 

In his continued testimony on S. 297, former AS-IA Gover made the following points:

 

"… My primary disagreement with BAR staff related specifically to the assignment of weight to specific evidence, the inferences that could fairly be drawn from the evidence, and the degree of certainty about historical facts required by the regulation. I believe that BAR staff, being of trained as historians, anthropologists, and genealogists, applied too difficult a standard. I believe they sought near certainty of the facts asserted by petitioners. They dismissed relevant evidence as inconclusive, even though conclusive proof is not required by the regulations. Moreover, BAR staff seemed thoroughly unwilling to give evidence any cumulative effect. While any given piece of evidence, when considered cumulatively, can make a sound case. … I do believe that, in accordance with their training, they applied a burden of proof far beyond what is appropriate and far beyond what is permitted by the regulations. …" (Page 5) [Emphasis added]

 

In former AS-IA Gover's "Suggestions for Amendments" he puts forward the following:

 

"… First, I strongly believe that certain petitioners, which already have been denied recognition, should be permitted another opportunity under the revised process established by this bill. … Into this category I would place Mowa Choctaw. Finally, I remain convinced that the Chinook Tribe is deserving of federal recognition, and I believe that, if Assistant Secretary McCaleb had the resources provided by this bill available to him when he addressed the Chinook petition, the outcome well may have been different. There may be other tribes, such as the Duwamish and the Muwekma who should be eligible for reconsideration as well." (Page 7) [Emphasis added]

 

The Muwekma people have had enough of this "Apartheid System" of government, of inequities, of invalidating us as the aboriginal tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area, of making our people refugees within our ancestral homeland. We will not stop fighting for our rights or for the rights of the other legitimate tribes in California and in the United States! We have suffered enough indignity by being totally disenfranchised within our homeland. The Muwekma people have united and now hold hands with our past as we look towards the future with our children and our grandchildren. This is our last stand, our fear is that without restoration as a Federally Recognized tribe, our Tribe, will through time, no longer have any social mechanism to keep our people and traditions together. This is our last stand! We have no land, we have no places set aside for our people, and we have no rights whatsoever. Without a positive court decision, within a generation or two, our ten thousand-year history and heritage will certainly be reduced down to a few sentences in some obscure history book or notation on the Internet. This is our last stand and all we can now do is hope and pray that we will once again be successful in our lawsuit against the Department of Interior, BIA, BAR and Department of Justice. Aho!

 

We Will Make Things Right For Our People And Dance For Our Children!

 

Makkin Mak Haššesin Hemme Ta Makiš Horše Mak-Muwekma, Rooket Mak Yiššasin Huyyunčiš Šinniinikma!

 

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