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San Pasqual bars 50 from voting

VALLEY CENTER, Calif. – According to a BIA official, 50 previously unregistered tribal members who had recently been reinstated by the BIA were barred from voting in the tribal government election of the San Pasqual Band of Diegueno Mission Indians Jan. 11.

James Fletcher, a BIA superintendent, said he received many letters and calls complaining. He said they also reported that two candidates nominated for office were removed from the ballot.

Tribal security guards and San Diego County Sheriff’s deputies reportedly blocked the voters from the polls. Several calls made to the department for comment were not returned.

Tribal security guards and San Diego County Sheriff deputies reportedly blocked the voters from the polls. Several calls made to the sheriff’s department for clarification were not returned. But a YouTube video apparently taken on election day at the gates of the tribal administrative complex show tribal guards and several deputies denying entry to people claiming they were legitimate tribal members.

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“They have their list. They are going to allow those that are allowed in,” a deputy told the people, adding that the tribal council authorized him to restrict entry.

The 300-member tribe has not yet asked the BIA to acknowledge the results of the recent election, Fletcher said Jan. 22. It was unclear if and how the BIA would respond. The BIA advised the tribe in August that it could not recognize it as legitimate tribal governments because of two opposing factions were claiming authority. The rift centered on the disenrollments.

Meanwhile Tribal Chairman Allen Lawson and the enrollment committee have appealed a decision by the BIA’s Regional Director Dale Morris reinstating the tribal members after being unregistered because of questions of their Indian ancestry. The ruling said the tribal members were not erroneously enrolled in the tribe and remained eligible for the rolls. The appeal was made to the acting Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs George Skibine, Fletcher said.

The BIA’s director of public affairs in Washington D.C., Nedra Darling, confirmed the appeal was received and would be processed. “It will be reviewed and worked on. (An answer) won’t come tomorrow,” she said.