San Diego County Indian tribe expels roughly 15 percent of members

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A billboard along State Highway 2 directs tourist and travelers to the Two Rivers Casino and Resort August 1, 2005 north of Davenport, Washington.

An Indian tribe in San Diego County has expelled 154 of its members, and those ousted from the Pala Band stand to lose out on a hefty share of the tribe's casino profits.

The tribal council made the decision Wednesday, the Fronteras Project reports.

The 154 people account for roughly 15 percent of the tribe's population, the North County Times reports.

Those people will no longer receive $150,000 in annual payments that members get from the tribe's casino, located on reservation land east of Oceanside.

Doug Elmets, the tribe's spokesman, would not say why the members were kicked out. He did say they could appeal the decision, but that the tribe had the right to determine its own members.

"The Supreme Court has held, and it is the law of the land, that Native American tribes have the ability to decide what constitutes and who constitutes their membership," he said.

This isn't the tribe's first expulsion. Last June, eight people were expelled from the Pala when tribal leaders claimed they didn't possess at least one-sixteenth Pala Indian blood, the minimum "blood quantum" required for membership.

Nationwide, tribes have exercised disenrollment rights for generations, but they have become more common as tribes have reaped profits from casinos that must be split among members.

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