‘It’s a real stab in the heart’: of a Native American tribe

The 77-year-old suffered the most from attacks on his family history.

Six years later, he and three other family members still face eviction from their homes surrounded by a cascade of mountains and vast land.

As for her granddaughter, Santana Rabang, telling her her story earlier this month, she saw him cry for the first time. She said that she only wanted to relieve her grandfather’s pain.

“It was really hard for me because my grandfather is such a pillar within our family,” she said. When I saw my grandfather crying, I burst into tears. It was tough for me because when I went that day it was as if I was bearing my grandfather’s injury, his sister’s injury and his brother’s injury.

Rabang’s family members are among 63 people in 21 tribal homes facing expulsion by the Nuxack Tribal Council, the tribe’s governing body elected by tribal members. The council alleges that tribal members are no longer eligible for their homes as their nominations have been canceled and they cannot prove their ancestry.

The eviction plan highlights concerns about the federal government’s responsibility to protect civil rights and whether it interferes with Native American tribal sovereignty. The US Constitution gives tribes the right to regulate internal affairs. However, various federal agencies have urged the tribe to delay eviction plans. Tribal members started receiving eviction notices in December last year, but the rest were put on hold due to bad weather in the region.

Only nine tribal families received the notice, of which Rabang’s family was one of them, including his 79-year-old brother Michael Rabang, 80-year-old brother Francisco Rabang and his 74-year-old sister Norma Eldredge. Tribal leaders have announced that eviction plans will resume this month.

“It’s a direct attack against who I am and how I was raised,” Rabang Sr.’s granddaughter Santana told CNN. “When you’re saying that my granddad isn’t a nooksack, you’re saying that his mom wasn’t a nooksack and everyone in front of him. It’s a real stab in the heart.”

Gabe Galanda is an Indigenous rights lawyer counseling “Nuxack 63” who are all facing expulsion. He had been representing tribal members facing eviction since 2013, but was then internally denied representation by the tribal council in 2016 for not having a tribal business license. Galanda said that after seeking a tribal business licence, he was told that his privilege to practice law, especially in Nooksack, had been revoked. He told CNN that the tribal council “ignores its own laws and proceeds as it pleases.”

Tribal members planning to be evicted without due process of law have been specifically denied the right of legal counsel guaranteed under the Knuckles law and the federal Indian Civil Rights Act, according to Galanda.
In this November 6, 2015 photo, Seattle attorney Gabe Galanda, center, listens to Nooksack tribal members before a lunch meeting with some members facing nomination from the tribe on the Nooksack Reservation near Deming, Wash.  Galanda is fighting nomination for three years (Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times via AP)

“I’m basically practicing law in the court of public opinion and diplomatic tribunals because these politicians have devoured the tribe, devoured democracy, violated due process, violated human rights and I Will not let these people help save themselves from eviction.” told CNN. “They have no capacity to get justice.”

In addition to possibly losing their homes, 63 tribal members are already missing out on tribal benefits, including health services, educational aid and financial stipends.

CNN has contacted the Nukkad Tribal Council several times requesting comment regarding the planned evictions.

In the past, the council has said that more than 200 members did not follow the rules of citizenship properly and therefore are not citizens of the street corner. He added that these members have not taken their “proof of descent to the Enrollment Office” but can re-enroll as a citizen at any time.

In a recent press release, Tribal Council President Roswell Kline said, “We encourage all who are not eligible to nominate to move forward, as we did after the nomination six years ago. Nooksack The tribe will not be distracted or distracted by those who oppose our sovereignty.”

call for intervention

Earlier this month, UN human rights experts called on the United States to halt the planned evictions over potential civil rights violations. UN experts were also concerned that those facing eviction would be denied the possibility to enjoy their culture and use their language in community with others.

“We urge the US government to respect the right to adequate housing … and to ensure that it adheres to its international obligations regarding the rights of indigenous peoples,” experts said in a press release. ”
The Tribal Council said in a statement that the UN press release was “filled with inaccuracies” and “lies” and that the UN failed to contact the tribe.

The United Nations is also concerned that evictions will disproportionately affect the elderly, women and children, who are “some of the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Both the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) of the Interior have also urged the Nukkad Indian tribe to delay their eviction plans.

Nooksack Police Office Jeremy Hoyle "Nooksack 63"  To give eviction papers to the houses.

Since last year, HUD has sent several letters to the tribe and ordered the BIA to investigate possible violations of the Indian Civil Rights Act and the Bureau of Indian Affairs requirements.

Last December, HUD’s Northwest Office of Native American Programs (NwONAP) sent a letter to the Nooksack tribe advising them to delay any pending or planned evictions until the BIA found it in violation of the Indian Civil Rights Act. has not completed its investigation.

“The BIA respects tribal sovereignty and supports tribal self-determination,” the BIA told CNN. “Accordingly, we seek to work closely with our tribal partners to protect the rights of both tribes and individuals.”

The BIA’s investigation looked at only nine of the 63 tribal members who had received eviction notices and whether their planned evictions were carried out in accordance with the terms of rental agreements and nuisance Indian Housing Authority procedures. The investigation ended earlier this month and found no violations.

HUD told CNN, “HUD is working to provide families with information about housing resources, so they are aware of possible options. HUD is working closely with the Department of the Interior and communicating with the tribe.” built in.”

Earlier this week, HUD informed the Nooksack Tribe of the BIA’s findings about nine specific individuals living within the tribe’s rental units. According to an email sent by HUD to Chairman Kline, “the DOI’s limited review has concluded that the Nuxac Tribe eviction process has so far been carried out in accordance with the terms of the rental agreements and NIHA procedures.”
Thomas Carney, NWONAP administrator at HUD, said in an email that the findings “do not preclude HUD from launching future monitoring efforts, including in relation to any potential planned evictions of additional families.” The tribe is still planning to evict the remaining tribal members.

Tribal members scheduled for eviction are requesting that HUD take all possible steps to indefinitely stop evictions, prevent police harassment and bullying, and guarantee due process of law.

The decades-long fight over ‘tribal sovereignty’

After early retirement, Michelle Roberts and her husband and son moved into the Nooksack managed land about 15 years ago. The 57-year-old wanted to be closer to her parents and to have a “good and quiet life”. The life he thought would turn into a nearly 10-year battle over the nomination.

In 2013, the Nooksack Tribal Council began to cancel the nominations of over 300 members of the tribe, leading to its name “Nook 306The council has said that the nominated members are descendants of a Canadian ancestor who was not a legal Nooksack member, making them ineligible to be enrolled in the tribe. They were officially dismissed in 2016 and 2018.

Roberts was on the council for two years before her nomination and was then removed. They believe the eviction plan is a “power grab” and the council has “abused tribal sovereignty and taken it lightly.”

The Nooksack Tribe’s enrollment department did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

Growing up, the Santana were part of both the Rabang Nooksack Tribe and the Lummi Nation, another indigenous tribe in Washington state. She was 16 when the nomination battle began and was told she was not eligible to be a member of the Nooksack tribe. She then went through a transitional period where she was questioning her identity as an indigenous woman.

“I think they don’t want us in Nooksack at all – they want to completely displace us from our traditional homeland,” she said. “I grew up with these people and even though I’m not related by blood to a lot of people on the opposing side, we all consider each other to be family.”

Rabang said that ever since the enrollment began, tensions have spread among the community of around 2,000 tribal members. “There is so much division because if someone wants to speak on the right, they can’t because they will become a target.”

Galanda told CNN that the eviction plan violates international universal human rights. “The unacceptable truth is that Indigenous Americans on Aboriginal lands do not have the protections of civil rights,” he said.


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