Native Rights Matter Speech

By Michelle Hammock
My name is Michelle Hammock, and I AM a Hopland Pomo
Indian. It is an honor and privilege to stand here with you
today to discuss a big issue that is spreading like rapid fire. I
am 1 of 74 who was disenrolled from Hopland Band of Pomo
Indians in January of this year, without due process, and
with total disregard of our tribal constitution.
My ancestors are listed among every significant era of
Hopland Indian’s recorded history, the BIA’s first land
purchase of our rancheria in 1908 to address the California
homeless Indian problem, through the 1928 California
Indian Judgement Roll records, through the Rancheria
Termination Act, which led to the distribution of assets of
the Hopland Rancheria where the BIA specifically recognized
my grandmother’s right to tribal parcel land, and then finally
back again in 1978 when the tribe fought their way back into
federal recognition long before casinos and pot farms.
Then in January of 2016, this council concocted a plan that
included the intentional false claim that were we NOT racially
Hopland Indians. Without notice to our entire family or even
the general council of the tribe, my family was sabotaged
while the council made themselves the judge, jury and
executioner of our fate as Indians or not. They consulted
with no one other than their attorney, Lester Marston about
our disenrollment.
ONLY by the spread of rumors, did any of us learn that this
plan was actually being put into place and was soon going to
be executed! We had less than 48 hours to handle any of
Our tribe’s constitution does have a membership clause that
spells out instances of potential loss of membership. The

council however, disregarded every word of the constitution
and did things their own way. Because… Sovereignty.
Our tribes are given sovereign rights to determine who is a
tribal member. So once we are members, why do we have to
continue a song and dance in order to keep our
memberships? What is going on here, breeds corruption. IF
a member has a fundamental disagreement of policy or a
person, that should not be grounds for disenrollment.
Unfortunately, it is. Any opposition to the tribal council is
now grounds for disenrollment. Because.. Sovereignty.
There is no legal recourse for victims of abusive tribes.
None. There is no court of appeals for the victims of tribal
genocide to go to legally hold councils accountable for their
destructive behavior.
There is no financial burden on tribes for their blatant
violations of the Indian Civil Rights Act, nor their violations
of human rights as well.
The tribal court system is not just imperfect, it is a kangaroo
court. Where we spend grant and federal funds on a tribal
court system where our bullies are allowed to supercede any
decision the court makes in the first place. The tribal
council- not mutual court officials - decides who is entered
onto the docket or not. this again breeds corruption.
Take a good look at what is going on up at Nooksack Tribe!
Injustice to the max!
In January of this year , exactly after the tribal council voted
to disenroll my family, my aunt Sandy, who was at the time
Secretary of the tribe and had to vote on her own
disenrollment, was escorted out of the police station where
the cowards conducted the disenrollment meeting away from
the tribal members, and all of us whose fate hung in the
balance of their decision. After tossing out my aunt from the

police station, the fake tribal police officers gave my other
aunt a 3 day verbal eviction notice to move off of the
reservation. Funny- how Northern CIrcle Indian Housing
Authority didn’t jump in to defend the rights of their
participating tribe’s individual Native rights to due process.
No, they eventually sent her a notice without any actual
reason or description for the eviction notice. After a stint in
the hospital, She has since moved.
Then the tribal council sought out the supporters of our
family and sent them banishment letters to not step foot on
tribal lands. They have also banned tribal members For
asking questions, the tribal council makes egregious claims
of “inciting a riot” as reason to ban their citizens from their
own meetings.
Now, at first, I didn’t think the disenrollment was about
greed as much as I believed it was about hate and lies. The
family who disenrolled us had previously opened up an
investigation of my family who were on council at the time
back in 2004 (ish). After numerous ABC agencies spent a
year or 2 on the investigation and $2 million dollars of the
tribe's money, they concluded that there was no evidence of
misappropriation going on. But it was too late. This family
had already spent so much time and energy using the tribe’s
money in creating such lies against my family.
But the Division had already been created. Rather than
unity, this family solely focused on creating an “us” and a
“them” mentality.
A decade later, after years of bad management and
leadership amongst their own, my aunt Sandy was talked
into running for office again, for which she won. The seeds
of disenrollment were planted when this other family, who
had spent so much energy on my family’s smear campaign,
had seen the warm reception of my aunts win. And through
the tool of nepotism, their family members began being
placed in strategic positions of power. Like a dictatorship.

The chairwoman, runs a tight ship of corruption. She’s the
end all and say all of the tribe, regardless of who is running
the show.
Since our disenrollment, there hasn’t been a day that we
haven’t put our foot forward to stop fighting for our rights.
There is a group of great people from our tribe who also
realize they, too, were cheated out of their rights as tribal
members. By a fair count of their own votes. To be heard in
tribal council meetings that have since taken place. By
asking tribal authorities questions, to only be barred from
meetings and blacked out of communications. Now with the
pot farms being installed without consulting the members,
are now being threatened with trespassing on tribal lands.
ON TRIBAL LANDS, Natives are now being threatened with
trespassing on their own lands! Why? Because the tribal
council’s Sovereignty. Not the general members.
ANd when we try and consult with BIA, it falls on deaf ears.
IF you aren’t a tribal chair, you are nobody and nothing to
the BIA.
One of our prepaid right and benefit that is stripped is
ICWA; a federal law that attempts to protect our Native
children from forced adoptions and foster care to non native
homes. It is meant for our native children to maintain a
relationship with their culture, their tribe, their people. If
any of our children are in the ICWA system prior to
disenrollment, now, this puts every disenrolled child at
imminent risk for foster care outside of native homes,
adoptions to non native families, breaking every tie they
have with their tribe and its people.
This law, ICWA, cannot and will no longer continue to
guarantee our native* children their inherent “rights” to
their culture, because a couple of people on a tribal council
with a term limit, determined this political racial identifier for

In other words, because of disenrollment, our children can
now be sold to the highest bidder without the interference of
a tribe because Family A can’t get along with Family B so
Family A disenrolled Family B for any egregious claims
because… Sovereignty
All while under expensive consultation from the tribal
attorneys who advocate disenrollment as a “sovereign
Education, such as the Indian Colleges throughout America
for federally recognized Indians. Once disenrolled, the
student is then left to pack their things and leave because
they no longer are eligible for the prepaid benefit of
education that is only afforded to them if they are federally
recognized through a tribe. Too many of our native people
are not in the position to pay for college for their children or
themselves. Disenrollment seals a lot of college bound
natives’ fate without access to federally funded education.
Health care is getting slim for disenrolled Natives. The
budget of IHS will focus more heavily on only recognized
natives, where there was time, it was the whole Native
household that was covered for health.
Disenrollment is just NOT responsible and authentic
sovereignty. It is genocide. Plain and simple. It is an
annihilation of a people. It is the stripping of one’s identity.
It is theft. A contemporary tool and concept of mass murder
that formerly was reserved for acts of heinous or extreme
crimes against its own government or its citizens; which, it
is now being used as a way to wipe out political opposition.
They have an issue with ANYONE within the tribe, they go
and scrub their membership clean of their opposition.
They abuse the interpretation of their own constitutions,
interpretations that are mostly borrowed from their tribal
attorneys who are only securing their own future by stoking
the flame of chaos in the tribe. And our tribal councils are

none the wiser than to eat from the palms of these
It is a damn right shame that these councils are getting
away with this behavior. With no legal recourse for the
victims. For decades now. Too many “Law Making” agencies
have neglected or flat out refused to take charge and create
laws that address the issues of abusive tribal councils that is
still within the scope of respecting tribal sovereignty.
Federal recognition is at the tribe’s discretion only. Each
member usually goes through the same rigor and scrutiny of
the tribe’s enrollment process and membership is not
guaranteed, regardless of what the tribe’s constitution says
and what the prospective member’s lineage is. Which if done
in the spirit of fairness, is tribal sovereignty. What one has to
do in order to keep their citizenship with an unstable tribe
today, is breeding grounds for corruption. Now, if you
oppose the corruption within your tribe, your ancestral rights
are gone in a poof with a morally corrupt council. With
decades under its belt, disenrollment nearly guarantees the
genocidal act committed by these types of tribal authorities
untouched and unprosecuted by any other authority above
the tribal council level. Again- when left in the wrong hands,
Tribal court is a kangaroo court, presided over by the very
bullies that are the root cause of the suit to begin with.
We need laws in place that protect the individual Native.
Especially from abusive tribes.
We need to start advocating laws that put teeth into the
Indian Civil Rights Act that have the power to protect the
Individual Native.
We need to reform BIA, the federal government's least
efficient department that received over $2 billion to manage
our “affairs”.

Public defenders who are skilled and knowledgeable in
American Indian Law; funded specifically for individual
Natives who cannot afford to compete against the purse
strings of their tribes.
A 14th amendment style guarantee for proven indigenous
people where their citizenship is guaranteed, and under NO
circumstance, shall recognition be stripped from individuals.
And I am NOT talking about the CDIB cards that are based
off of blood quantum. Where only FEDERALLY RECOGNIZED
“blood” is tallied. That practice is unethical and the entire
system of blood quantum was design to bleed us out of
We’re talking full established federal recognition for proven
indigenous individuals, full benefits as if a member of a
federally recognized tribe. Health, housing, education, food,
clothing, grants, etc. There should be no reason at all for
why a fully proven Indian should be without these prepaid
benefits of a member of a tribe. It is fraudulent to think
otherwise. My ancestors paid the cost, made the agreement
with the government JUST as any other legitimately
recognized tribal member’s ancestor. The agreements and
the governmental contracts should not end because of
irresponsible tribal governance.
There are laws preventing the legal recourse for Natives,
despite the Indian Civil Rights Act and the Bill of Rights
being adopted by some tribal constitutions. Those laws need
to be reconsidered and/or destroyed.
Our voices are being snuffed out because of archaic tools
such as this. How do we stand firm with our voices as a
collective on huge issues like DAPL, or any American
Pipelines threatening real tribal sovereignty, ICWA, Native
Education, Murdered and Missing Natives, or any issue. How
do we stand firm and strong as a collective and try and build
a mighty voice together if we are slaughtering our own!?

We need our voices as recognized people in order to build
stronger voices on every Native Rights Issue!
How can Native Rights Matter if our voices are being ripped
You are not stepping on anyone’s toes being opposed to
disenrollment! Your public opinions against disenrollment is
not getting into anyone else’s business! You care, you are
concerned for your native people and all of our rights to
maintain our identities. Their Native Rights SHOULD Matter!
We are asking that the existing laws that have already been
created to protect the individual Native, be enforced. Tribal
leaders to be held legally accountable to their constitutions
and bylaws. And if they aren’t holding themselves to their
own tribal laws… then they need to be held accountable from
a higher authority. Whether that higher authority comes
from the Federal Government, or a global government.
Sovereign responsibly- to preserve our people, our heritage,
our rights, our sovereignty. Disenrollment is NOT
sovereignty. It is tribal genocide.
Thank you for your time!

Introduce indian legacy act