Something Inside Us Is Broken

By Yulu Ewis

This past Friday night, I had the pleasure of attending the musical Something Inside Us Is Broken at Sacramento State for their Native American week celebration. This musical was put on by On Native Ground and is considered to be a “courageous success story of the Nisenan Tribe of Northern California, through the frontier of Sutter’s reign on the Sacramento family” (Jack Kohler). And they did not disappoint. The message was heard loud and clear throughout the Hinde Auditorium. This was the first time that the Natives (California Indians) have told their version of history. As a fellow Miwok, I was moved to tears during some parts of the musical because it was hard to hear about Sutter’s deception, treachery and slave trade of my ancestors, the original people of this land.

LittleDove, a local member of the Auburn Maidu/Miwok tribe who played Pulba, one of the local tribal women in the story, told the audience that this musical was actually very therapeutic and healing. Since local Natives haven’t had their story told before, this was a way for them to cleanse themselves from the pain of their past. Maggie Steel, another one of the cast members said that “they had to tell the truth because otherwise we are doomed to repeat it.”

This piece of information hit me like a lightning bolt because history is repeating itself. But, instead of outsiders like John Sutter coming in and destroying our way of life, we are doing it for people like him.

On Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 9:15am The Hopland Band of Pomo Indians elected council let over 70 members appeal their disenrollment status. Each appellant was given 2 minutes to speak before the tribal membership meeting started at 9:30am. In January of this year, the tribe voted to disenroll over 70 members of the tribe. But the appeal came to no avail. The tribe voted against their appeals and even allowed members to cast their vote before hearing from the appellants. They even went as far as removing tribal members who spoke up or tried to make motions on the floor.

Michelle Hammock, a disenrolled member of Hopland speaks up adamantly about the injustice that has happened to all of the members of her family. “I would advise tribal families to prepare now. Even the ones who believe they are safe from such a situation. Call a family meeting now, prepare a leader and a backup leader of the family. Find people’s talents and start delegating those individuals to be in charge of those talents that are relevant to helping their family fight or research. Be ready now to furnish any document you can get you claws on before something new happens. Preparation is key.

Many disenrolled members, with the help of the Indian community, have protested and rallied outside the reservation and the casino. The have asked for a boycott of the Hopland Sho-Ka-Wah Casino until the illegal disenrolling ceases and the members are reinstated. Hammock states that one of the ways that we can help our communities is having our elders “be willing to advise leaders.” She says that this is “where people get scrambled. Folks naturally want to hand leadership to the eldest and sometimes the eldest is in the best position to advise and counsel.”

As I sit back in the auditorium, I am faced with a very real and dangerous truth. Something inside of our communities is truly broken. And, if we do not stand up and try to fix the broken piece. It might be too late.

Please sign my petition to ban tribal disenrollment and stop tribal corruption at: . Please visit these sites on Facebook for more information: #STOPTRIBALGENOCIDE and Disenrollment.


Published by Kristen Debler