Chukchansi tribe cuts dozens from membership rolls

Tribal leadership is taking action to shrink the total membership, in turn increasing the monthly payout for each remaining member.

The Chukchansi Tribe is once again slimming down its membership rolls in a controversial move that is seeing dozens of people ousted from the tribe. 

The backstory: Last year over 60 members were kicked out of the tribe, which was followed up by another 49 members who were disenrolled last month. 


  • It’s the latest controversy for the tribe in the last decade. In 2015 the federal government temporarily shut down Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino after a tribal dispute turned violent. 

The big picture: Recently over 60 members received notices that they will be removed from the tribe. 

  • The decision is based on a common ancestor who they all share and claim eligibility through: Jack Roan. 
  • The tribe claims that Roan was not actually of Chukchansi blood, making them ineligible by the tribe’s constitution. 
  • Roan, according to the tribe, is actually of Pohoneechee Indian blood, a band of Miwok Indians native to California. 
  • Over a decade ago the tribe attempted to remove some of Roan’s descendants from the rolls but was unsuccessful. According to a report from McClatchy, those individuals were able to prove that Roan was of Chukchansi blood. 

Why it matters: A smaller tribal roll would mean a higher monthly check from the casino earnings for the remaining members. 

  • Last year the tribe had around 1,800 members before the disenrollments started. 
  • The casino reportedly brought in nearly $44 million in revenue last year. 

What they’re saying: Attorney David Dehnert, who represents many of the members who were disenrolled or have recently received notice of disenrollment, told McClatchy that the Chukchansi Tribe’s actions are egregious. 

  • “It’s deplorable what they are doing to their own people,” Dehnert said. “They should be taking care of their people.”
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