The Narragansett tribe has stated that Dennis Champlain and his family are no longer apart of the group. Dennis Champlain and his extended family are amongst the thousands of people that have been ‘expelled’ from the various Native American Indian tribes over the years. These expulsions are usually the result of conflicts within the tribe or the arrival of a casino to the reservation.
The Narragansett tribe has removed about one-hundred and forty people out of two-thousand and four hundred movements. This action has become one of the issues in today’s election of the tribe’s leader. Officials of the tribe state they have the right to decide who is a member as a safety measure to prevent fraud by those who want a share of the gambling money.
But to those expelled, it’s not about the money; it’s about their identity as Narragansetts. They feel that the tribe officials are attacking their identity. This is not an issue that the United States government is going to step in. In 1978, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government shouldn’t intervene in most tribal affairs such as disputes over membership.
Casinos owned by tribes can generate billions of dollars over the years. The profits are often split up by the tribe by making payments to the members. However, the fewer members a tribe have, the bigger the amounts. It could look as if the expulsion could be motivated and driven by greed. However at the same time, it can attract people who claim ancestry to get the money.
In the case of Champlain, he can appeal to the trial court. But nobody told him how to do so.