Bill to Re-establish Ruffey Rancheria Causes Controversy, According to the Karuk Tribe

Press release from the Karuk Tribe:

Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) recently introduced a controversial bill to restore a terminated Indian Rancheria which would be handed over to a group of California Natives that have so far failed to demonstrate a lineal connection to it. The bill would re-establish the Ruffey Rancheria, terminated by Congress in 1958, re-write Ruffey’s enrollment criteria from 1905, and allow the new group to claim unlimited reservation lands anywhere in Siskiyou County bypassing the administrative process other tribes must face. On these lands they could place casinos, stake water claims, and impact fishing rights of other Tribes and commercial fishermen.

Karuk and other area tribes have contacted Congressman LaMalfa more than a dozen times in four months asking for more information.. “So far, the concerns that have been raised by area Tribes that would have their rights and resources impacted have not been adequately addressed by Congressman LaMalfa,” says Karuk Chairman Russell ‘Buster’ Attebery. “Why the rush, and why so much secrecy?” asks Attebery.

Concerns over the bill are spreading throughout California’s Indian Country. In recent days the Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association (SCTCA), the Northern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association (NCTCA) and the California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) have all written LaMalfa and members of the House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular, and Alaska Native Affairs urging a re-hearing on the bill to get answers. Together these groups represent 70 federally recognized tribes from all over California.

“We are concerned to learn that several tribal commenters in California and Oregon have raised questions about the group affiliated with HR 3535 that have gone unanswered,” wrote Southern California Tribal Chairman’s Associated (SCTCA) Robert Smith.

In referring to questions raised by the Karuk Tribe and others, Northern California Tribal Chairman’s Association Chair Garth Sundberg wrote, “These questions go beyond the bill’s text and address a range of critical issues such as whether the group are the lineal descendants of the final distributes [of the terminated Ruffey Rancheria] and…concerns regarding the group’s self-disclosed interests in the trust land of their neighbors.”

This outpouring of concern has led the Ranking Members of the House Committee on Natural Resources and Subcommittee on Indian Affairs to call on LaMalfa to hold a rehearing on the bill. In a recent letter to Chairman Rob Bishop, Representatives Jared Huffman, Raul Grijalva and Norma Torres wrote that “the questions that have been raised by these letters speak to fundamental issues that impact the rights and resources of many diverse interests….[,] a second hearing would address these important issues, and would ensure that tribal restoration is a transparent, historically accurate, and accountable process.”

Although the original Ruffey Rancheria was on a small creek near the town of Etna, miles from the Klamath River, LaMalfa’s bill would allow them to establish reservation lands anywhere in Siskiyou County and exercise water and fishing rights, adding more chaos and confusion to long running debates between tribes, fishermen and area farmers. This concern led Noah Oppenheimer, Executive Director for the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA) to write Chairman Bishop, warning that suddenly granting a new tribal entity fishing rights on the Klamath River “might well disrupt and destabilize the current federal, state, and Tribal salmon allocation systems for the entire Klamath Basin and much of the west coast.”

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48 comments

    • Looks like there are two sides to this story. Worth the read!

      • Paul R. Jones

        Really!!! two sides…not so. As of the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, there are no more “Indians” with the original meaning of our Constitution…only U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” entitled to no more and no less than every other non-Indian U.S./State citizen. Politicians-state and federal-are duping you into believing that they-politicians-can pass common law that makes a select group of U.S./State citizens distinguishable because of their “Indian ancestry/race!” Where is that authority in our Constitution?

        • OK, fine. I’m not an Indian anymore. I just hope I’m always distinguishable from you.

          • As a U.S./State citizen, you still are not entitled to have your “Indian ancestry/race” made distinguishable from any other U.S./State citizens under our Constitution.

            • As a full blood Taos Pueblo citizen born in the Taos Pueblo in a room where my ancestors have been born going back nearly 600 years, long before this country was established, and as tribes are distinctly referenced in the Constitution, I am an American Indian, distinct from others not as a racial class, but as a special political class. If you don’t like it get the Constitution amended.

              Article I, Section 2, Clause 3 states that “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States … excluding Indians not taxed.”According to Story’s Commentaries on the U.S. Constitution, “There were Indians, also, in several, and probably in most, of the states at that period, who were not treated as citizens, and yet, who did not form a part of independent communities or tribes, exercising general sovereignty and powers of government within the boundaries of the states.”
              Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution states that “Congress shall have the power to regulate Commerce with foreign nations and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes”, determining that Indian tribes were separate from the federal government, the states, and foreign nations; and
              The Fourteenth Amendment, Section 2 amends the apportionment of representatives in Article I, Section 2 above.

  • Please visit Ruffey Rancheria site to get the correct facts:

    https://www.ruffeyrancheria.org/setting-the-record-straight/

    Ruffey Rancheria was established in 1907 for a group of 57 “landless” Indians. During the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. government pursued policies intended to end all California tribes. When this was found to be illegal in the 1980s through the “Tillie Hardwick” court decision, Ruffey Rancheria was one of 6 that were left behind.

    Ruffey Rancheria through the original lineal descendants have worked to restore the tribe by working with ALL local, state, federal, and Tribal partners (including the Karuk) because Ruffey Rancheria sees the value in being good neighbors in the community.

    • Paul R. Jones

      As of the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, there are no more “Indians” within the original meaning of our Constitution…only U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” entitled to no more and no less than every other non-Indian U.S./State citizen!

      This whole “Indian tribal” thing is a plain fraud upon the United States Constitution.
      It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is for politicians-state and federal-to dumb down as gullible non-Indian U.S./State citizens into believing that they-politicians-can pass common law that regulates from the womb to the tomb the health, welfare, safety, benefits, capacities, metes and boundaries of a select group of U.S./State citizens made distinguishable from all other non-Indian U.S./State citizens because of their “Indian ancestry/race” at the same time the Constitution’s 14th Amendment’s ‘equal protection’ foreclosed the very same politicians from enacting common law regulating from the womb to the tomb the health, welfare, safety, benefits, capacities, metes and boundaries for select group of U.S./State citizens with ‘slave ancestry/race’ all without a shred of Constitutional authority to do so.

    • Hi,
      Any chance that some of the original Ruffey Rancheria Indians are descendent from the Chimariko who were scattered from the Trinity, South Fork Trinity, and New River area around the turn of the 19th/20th centuries? Accounts say they went to the Scott Valley and to Shasta.
      Thanks and good luck.

  • clearlake fool

    Although the original Ruffey Rancheria was on a small creek near the town of Etna, miles from the Klamath River, LaMalfa’s bill would allow them to establish reservation lands anywhere in Siskiyou County and exercise water and fishing rights, adding more chaos and confusion to long running debates between tribes, fishermen and area farmers.

    what if they want to TAKE all of Yreka , or all of lower klamath game reserve . will this bill allow them to just take anything anywhere in siskiyou county ??? even others private property ?
    doesnt sound right

    • Please see above comment.

      You are misinformed about just “taking anything, anywhere in Siskiyou County.” This is about righting a historical injustice. Ruffey Rancheria wants to be a partner with all.

      • clearlake fool

        nothing in your link addresses that , it only talks about people
        says nothing about land .

      • Mount Shasta?

        Where will you build your casino with one in Redding and another in Yreka already?

      • Where will your casino be?

      • Paul R. Jones

        What ‘historical injustice’ might that be? A reminder and with rare exception, the Indian tribes lost the wars and with their loss, land. As of the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, there is no Constitutional authority anyone can provide for making U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” distinguishable from other non-U.S./State citizens!

  • It sounds like what happened to the Ruffey Rancheria was travesty of justice. I suppose everyone should be allowed to advocate for their own interests, but the Karuk point of view is clearly based on selfishness and greed. If the Ruffey side of the story is true, it should be corrected by giving them back what’s rightfully theirs.

    • Paul R. Jones

      A reminder and with rare exception, the Indian tribes lost the wars and with their loss, the land. Get over it.

  • Good luck to the Ruffey group. If more Californians knew their history, this would have been cleared up years ago.

    • If more U.S./State citizens knew our Constitution, none of this would be happening.

    • Right On ! Very well put! Thank you for standing up for our people 🐢
      Our Native roots were stripped from us and our Tribe scattered. I wish that these Obviously Ignorant People would do some research before spouting off with such venom. Do any of you know our history? Do you know how our Ancestors were enslaved,murdered,poisened, and marched off their lands? Do you know that the Native American Holocaust was even worse than what happened to the Jewish people? Read a book! Investigate, gain some knowledge and maybe you will learn The Real History of The United States of America!

  • When was anything involving native politics NOT a controversy?

    • According to Chairman Dingleberry of the Karuk, there’s nothing controversial about his views. He believes that all those other tribes with a documented historical presence in our region were actually Karuk. Therefore, he gets to be the only official spokesman on this subject. Any other possible motives for his “concerns” are beside the point. End of story, please move along.

      • It’s “Attebery”. And most Indians in Siskiyou County were Karuk, AS WAS RUFFEY. See Pg. 16 of:

        https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/downloads/cr56n243q&ved=2ahUKEwj09P6B9uraAhVYHGMKHUkkDd04ChAWMAB6BAgIEAE&usg=AOvVaw0CTnqxppQbi328kFs5n86b

        Also, Rancheries aren’t tribes, and I doubt any of the proposed members are “landless” as was the criteria to move onto the Rancheria back then.

        • The chairman doth protest too much, methinks.

        • Correction – most Indians in Siskiyou county were SHASTA, not Karuk ..BIG difference between the two.

          • You’re 100% correct but don’t expect the truth to influence Dingleberry’s narrative. He seldom mentions the Shasta, and when he does, it’s as if we’re some sort of urban legend. Look at what he did in Yreka. Don’t be surprised when he tries to rename our mountain as a monument to himself.

        • “Guest” – You must be the same individual that recently interviewed on KMUD, claiming the location of the Ruffey Rancheria would give them claim to “senior fishing rights” on the Klamath river. What a bunch of Hogwash!

          Nothing in the Ruffey legislation gives them water, treaty, or any special right. This leads me to believe that you haven’t even read the legislation; or maybe you just don’t understand it…..

          What are you afraid of anyway? Or are you just hating on Indians?

      • He just wants to be the only show in town. He knows a lot of members just want checks. Everyone knows this. Typical politician, doesn’t want any competition. Casino money sounds good. Promise of big checks helps people keep quiet. These are just promises. Again, typical politician. Most the money ends up in a few pockets. There’s a lot of bad blood out there but now days it’s all about money. He doesn’t speak for all the members of the tribe and he know this.

        • “Big Checks”and “all about the money”?! Geez, the casino just opened up a couple weeks ago! How quiclky people are to stereotype and try rile up the ignorent. Good grief…
          Well, I’m a member and he does a fine job speaking for me.

          • Pot meet kettle

          • Well I’m a member too and of course there have been promises made. I’m sure we’ll see abuse with casino profits just as we have with TANF funds. The benefits always goes mostly to the administration. Anyone who says otherwise has never worked for the tribe.

    • Paul R. Jones

      The ‘controversy’ flows from politicians-state and federal-who know nothing about our Constitution. As of the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, they are U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” entitled to no more and no less than every other non-Indian U.S./State citizens. And, our Constitution makes for no provisions for ‘treaties’ with constituency.

  • Where will Ruffey locate their casino? Mount Shasta?

  • It’s interesting how the government at one time tried to exterminate the tribe, followed by eventually supporting a small number of survivors with federal recognition, followed by terminating their status to encourage “full assimilation.”

    Now the government is willing to restore their status, only to have another tribe object.

    It reminds me of the old saying, “with friends like that, who needs enemies?”

    At minimum, Ruffey should be restored. The idea that we shouldn’t do that because they might want to use a piece of land to make a living is absurd.

  • Paul R. Jones

    Where is the U.S. Constitutional authority for a politician-state or federal-to enact common law legislation that makes a select group of U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race”-since the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924-health, welfare, safety and benefits distinguishable because of their “Indian ancestry/race?”

    • Have you read the constitution, and do you know what a treaty is?

      • Paul R. Jones

        Yes to both questions. Do you know what a treaty is and have you read our Constitution…begin with the 14th Amendments ‘equal protection’ provisions? To help you to understand our Constitution and the treaty clause, here’s an unbiased assessment of Treaties and there are no treaties with Constituency!
        http://lexrex.com/enlighten
        The object of treaties is the regulation of intercourse with foreign nations, and is external.
        An especially interesting piece of evidence supporting the conclusion that the Treaty Clause was intended and understood by the Framing and that the Treaty Clause was intended and understood by the Framing and Ratifying Conventions not to authorize the President and Senate, by a treaty, either (a) to override the Constitution, in whole or in part, or (b) to make domestic law (as distinguished from governance of relations with foreign governments),

        [Section 52.]

        “Treaties are legislative acts. A treaty is a law of the land. It differs from other laws only as it must have the consent of a foreign nation, being but a contract with respect to that nation . . . 2. By the general power to make treaties, the Constitution must have intended to comprehend only those objects which are usually regulated by treaty, and cannot be otherwise regulated. 3. It must have meant to except out of these the rights reserved to the States; for surely the President and Senate cannot do by treaty what the whole Government is interdicted from doing in any way.”
        Another fallacious statement is that a treaty “can override the Constitution;” which defies historical truth, as we have seen. A related and most preposterous allegation is that a treaty “can cut across the rights given the people by the constitutional Bill of Rights”–than which nothing could be further from the truth, partly for two reasons: the Constitution does not authorize any such treaty and, secondly, the people are, of course, given their rights by God and not by themselves through their own creation: the Constitution (including its Bill of Rights, or Bill of Prohibitions, Amendments). The quoted statement is farcical.

    • Check out Article One, Section 8 of the Constitution. That’s where it grants Congress the authority to regulate relations with Indian tribes.

      • Paul R. Jones

        Wrong! Post passage of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, there are no more “Indians” within the original meaning of our Constitution…only U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” entitled to no more and no less than every other non-Indian U.S./State citizen.
        This singular SCOTUS decision (there are at least 2-more SCOTUS decisions affirming our Constitution’s fierce protection of one’s citizenship: Adarand and AFROYIM ) affirms that once U.S./State citizenship is achieved, politicians-state and federal-have no authority to ‘enlarge or abridge’ one’s U.S./State citizenship absent an Amendment to our Constitution…please provide that Amendment.
        United States Supreme Court OSBORN v. BANK OF U.S., (1824) No. 80
        Argued: Decided: March 19, 1824
        “A naturalized citizen is indeed made a citizen under an act of Congress, but the act does not proceed to give, to regulate, or to prescribe his capacities. He becomes a member of the society, possessing all the rights of a native citizen, and standing, in the view of the constitution, on the footing of a native. The constitution does not authorize Congress to enlarge or abridge those rights. The simple power of the national Legislature, is to prescribe a uniform rule of naturalization, and the exercise of this power exhausts it, so far as respects the individual. The constitution then takes him up, and, among other rights, extends to him the capacity of suing in the Courts of the United States, precisely under the same circumstances under which a native might sue. He is [22 U.S. 738, 828] distinguishable in nothing from a native citizen, except so far as the constitution makes the distinction. The law makes none.”

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