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Indian Bummer

Jennifer Patel
Photographs by Christopher Gardner

Caught in the Crossfire: Jennifer Patel, former coordinator for the American Indian Center of Santa Clara Valley job training program, left the center in the recent staff upheaval.

Shrinking resources, conflicting visions tear apart a local Indian community struggling to reconcile traditional values with modern problems

By Rafer Guzmán

THE FEW Indians willing to talk about what happened the night of April 17, 1996, refer to it as "the coup," "the massacre" or "Black Wednesday." They do this as a joke, a bit of gallows humor to hide their real feelings of betrayal, shame and anger. For this massacre was carried out not by Capt. James Cook or Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, but by other Indians.

Employees, volunteers and community members of the American Indian Center of Santa Clara Valley Inc. showed up for the board meeting at 6pm, as usual. The agenda seemed peaceful enough, but by the end of the gathering the center's chairman had resigned and the executive director had been fired. The next morning, six employees were handed their letters of termination with no reasons given. A week later, the librarian, accused of prejudice and embezzlement, was yanked from her post. Board members began dropping off one by one. By the middle of June, almost none of the center's original employees remained, and allegations of racism, sexual harassment and misuse of funds were flying.

"I feel that Indians--at this time, anyway--are fighting each other, and they've lost sight of who the enemy is," says Maxine Wilder-Burns, whose five-year career with the center ended on Black Wednesday. "I'm so ashamed of Indians now, I don't know what to do."

Some regard the shakeup, not the first of its kind, as a cyclical and natural occurrence. Others fear that the center will alienate the Indian community, scare off its funding sources and shut down--a pattern they've seen in Indian nonprofit organizations in Oakland, Temecula, Los Angeles and Eureka, all of which have gone belly-up within the last year. The American Indian Center of Santa Clara Valley may well be next, ending 26 years of service to a community with little to call its own.

"What nobody wants," says Jeanne Segura, who once operated a gift shop adjacent to the center, "is for the federal government to step in and say, 'Typical Indians, you can't take care of yourselves.' " She feels Indians want the opportunity for self-governance. "We used to be pretty good at it, you know."

American Indian Center
Center of Attention: The American Indian Center provides services to a geographically dispersed community from its site on The Alameda.

THE AMERICAN Indian Center occupies a small, boxy building on The Alameda, where it blends in with the surrounding warehouses and parking lots. Unlike many nonprofit agencies, the center does not reside in the heart of the community it serves. The valley's Indians have no barrio or ghetto to call their own; they come to the center from as close as a few blocks away, and as far as Fremont. They are, like Indians across the country, scattered.

Even before April 17, the center had its difficulties. Established more than two decades ago, the nonprofit center comprises a resource library, a community space, an art gallery and an alcoholism treatment center called Four Winds Lodge. For the last two years, the center has vied for a spot under the umbrella of the well-endowed United Way. Though recently faced with shrinking federal budgets, center employees held high hopes that 1996 would be the year they achieved the same clout as other ethnic organizations, such as the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the African American Juneteenth.

Former executive director Nolan Grayson, a Navajo, joined the center in 1992 after no less than five executive directors came and went in the previous four years. "Nolan was exactly who we wanted to have represent us," recalls Segura. "We wanted him there with his dapper suits and his good education and his Marine service history. That's the face we wanted to show the world."

In 1994, Grayson convinced the United Way to accept the center into its incubator program, which granted the center $25,000 each year for three years, a sizable fraction of the center's annual budget. (That fluctuating figure lies somewhere in the range of $500,000.) After 1996, the third year, the center could officially become a United Way agency, eligible for steady, need-based funding--if it met the United Way's list of requirements.

Those requirements include the signing of a non-discrimination policy and having an ethnically diverse board of directors. "Many times the agency is serving not just Indians, but anyone in the community who has needs," explains United Way's Jeannie Schmelzer. "So the idea is that you have to have a diverse board, because you're making decisions for the community."

"And for the first time in the history of the center," Grayson says, "non-Indians would be on the board, which I thought was wonderful. I don't live in a closed society. I live in a global society in the 20th century."

GRAYSON WOULD later find that not everyone in the center shared his vision. His strongest opposition came from a man he himself hired, a mild-mannered Navajo from Fresno named Kenneth Chester.

A soft-spoken and private man, Chester impressed center employees with his master's degree in public health and strong experience working with nonprofits. Until last December, Chester worked for 18 months as a community planner for Oakland's United Indian Nations. He also simultaneously functioned as a board member and treasurer of Oakland's Intertribal Friendship House.

"I felt that he should be given a chance," says Jennifer Patel, a former coordinator for the center's job training program. "He had the background. I felt he might be able to do wonders for that program, to secure a bigger funding base. I thought of him in a very positive way." Encouraged by Patel, Grayson hired Chester in December 1995 as program director of Four Winds Lodge.

When Patel met Chester, she was unaware that his organization in Oakland was on the verge of collapse. According to a volunteer at the Intertribal Friendship House who asked not to be named, the community demanded that the IFH's board members and executive director step down. The director refused, locking herself in the receptionist's office. The community put a restraining order on the director, who in turn put 26 restraining orders on the community. Subsequently, since neither the director nor the community could legally set foot in the IFH, it closed down. In the middle of the fracas stood Kenneth Chester, one of the ousted board members.

"When Chester first came on board, he would brag about it in a joking way," says Henry Morillo, a former counselor at the center. "He would drop one-liners like, 'Yeah, we did some stuff out there in Oakland!' We thought, 'What's he talking about?' He just said he had kind of stirred things up."

MORILLO WAS hired as a Four Winds counselor just a fortnight before Chester. Morillo grew up in San Juan Bautista, the son of farm laborers. He recalls that his elementary school often took his mostly Latino class to the fields and put them to work for the day. "Well, they called it a field trip," Morillo says. "We'd bring back what we got paid. It was sort of like vocational school." A Vietnam veteran and a one-time alcoholic (he celebrates five-and-a-half years of sobriety in June), Morillo now paints and hopes to major in fine art at San Jose State University.

Though Morillo identifies strongly with the valley's Latino culture, his grandmother was a California Chumash Indian. Several years ago, Morillo began to explore his Indian heritage.

What he discovered is that the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the federal agency which assigns roll numbers to recognized Indians, stopped handing out numbers to his tribe in 1972. Because his grandparents neglected to register with the BIA, Morillo is unable to call himself a "federally recognized Indian." Instead of the BIA number that many Indians proudly carry, Morillo clings to a yellowing newspaper article featuring a picture of his grandmother standing near the Mission San Juan Bautista.

Through friends at the center, Morillo learned that many staff members reportedly considered him "nothing but a Mexican" and resented his employment. "I'm getting questioned about my Indian-ness because I'm tight with the Chicano culture," he says. While manning the phones on his first day, he was confronted by a volunteer who demanded to know his qualifications for counseling Native Americans. "Hell, when I grew up, being Native American wasn't an issue," Morillo says. "We were just poor! Now, within the past five or 10 years, you go around trying to get your paperwork together, and you get people saying: Oh, here comes another wannabe Indian."

Morillo feels Chester was one who never considered him a "real" Indian. His termination notice--dated April 18--gave no reason for his dismissal, but when Morillo filed his grievance for wrongful termination, Chester revealed that he had been replaced, according to the Indian Preference Act, by Terrence Standing Elk, a Lakota. "I handed him my grievance," Morillo says, "and he just stamped it and said: muchas gracias."

discrimination

THE HISTORY of the California Indians, like all tribes, is one of broken promises, stolen land and outright termination. In the 1850s, the U.S. government strong-armed California tribes into trading land rights for acreage on reservations which never materialized. In the 1920s, the U.S. attempted to absorb Indians into mainstream society by refusing to recognize tribal identities. In the 1950s, hunter-gatherer tribes were said never to have had land rights at all. In the 1970s, Indians were paid paltry sums for the land the government took from them.

They have also seen the migration of other Indian tribes into California. After World War II, Dillon Mayer--the man responsible for the Japanese internment camps--began a program of relocation for Indians returning from wartime service. Thousands of Indians from over a hundred tribes ended up in California. The result, according to San Jose State anthropologist Alan Levanthal, is "a very diverse population of people, representing many different cultures, which the dominant society lumps together as American Indians."

Levanthal is known for his work with the Muwekmas, a tribe still fighting for federal recognition under the leadership of Rosemary Cambra. A respected but controversial figure, Cambra once supervised the city of San Jose's exhumation and re-interment of Indian gravesites to make room for an expanding freeway. Many in the Indian community admire Cambra and Levanthal for their work with the Muwekmas. Others, many of whom worked at the center, object to Cambra's handling of the gravesites, question her Muwekma ancestry, and view her and Levanthal as opportunists. Due to personal and political differences, the center has always distanced itself from the two.

Just a few weeks after the April 17 upset, Levanthal spoke about the center. "It's a complexity of the historical and the cultural," he explained, "of personality, economics, prestige, power-brokerage. These are not necessarily negative things, but these are factors which contribute." He added, "You're dealing with an apartheid system. You have Indians who are federally recognized, relocated and abandoned in the cities, and then you have Indians who were once federally recognized, but are no longer, and so they're delegitimized."

"What's happened to Indian people over the last 500 years is they've lost their identity," Wilder-Burns says. "We've only got this little piece of paper the government gives us, and we use it as a damn weapon against each other."

MUCH OF the infighting appears to stem from the most basic of causes: a lack of money. For decades, the BIA and other federal agencies provided funding to various urban Indian nonprofit organizations, while the BIA oversaw the operations of those nonprofits. However, in the current era of sweeping national budget cuts, the California Indians are feeling some sharp pains.

"We've gotten guidance from the Washington office that priority would be given to reservations," says Mike Smith, deputy area director of the BIA's Sacramento office. "In fact, the funding for urban programs will be wiped out."

At the same time, Smith says, "Congress keeps saying that Indian tribes should take more of an active role in the administration of programs that affect their membership." Theoretically, as the BIA's role in Indian affairs shrinks, Indians' opportunities for self-governance should grow. "We're supposed to be working ourselves out of a job," BIA official Smith says, "and that's great. All of the money available to the tribes has been taken by the tribes, and has eliminated the federal government's part."

But it practice, it seems, the U.S. government expects California Indians to govern themselves on even less money than they've had in the past. This leaves a familiar taste of suspicion in the mouths of California Indians. As one T-shirt seen at a recent powwow reads, "Sure you can trust your government--just ask any Indian!"

The BIA's uneasy relationship with Native Americans dates back to its beginnings in the mid-1800s. Though ostensibly instituted as a friendly liaison between Indians and the United States, the BIA was actually part of the War Department. In 1884, the BIA joined the more peaceable Department of the Interior. Not until 1923 were Indians recognized as citizens of California. And not until 1934 did the U.S. pass an act allowing Indian tribes to become sovereign entities so that they and the U.S. could establish a government-to-government relationship.

"Many of the Indian people now are looking back at what's called the termination era," Smith says, "where the federal government was saying, 'You don't have the status of citizens.' Now we're in an era of recognizing tribes and tribal rights. But people are saying, 'If the government is going to divide the money, and not give fair shares to the tribes, and tell us we're on our own, it's another form of termination. It's another way of not recognizing us.' "

Indians in California may be ill-prepared for the task of self-government, according to BIA administrator Fayetta Babby, a Seneca-Cayuga from Oklahoma. Because few California Indians have acquired via postgraduate education the management skills necessary to run a nonprofit agency, Babby says, "many of the tribes don't have the infrastructure to operate some of these programs. But you give them the money anyway, and they're going to fail. It's really not their fault. It's that they don't have the training necessary."

Though Babby would like to provide ongoing management and mediation training to Indian nonprofits, she points to her own annual budget of only $187,000 to serve all Indian students in California and Nevada. "My hands are kind of tied," she concludes.

indian center

IN EARLY April, Nolan Grayson saw a flurry of memos cross his desk. Some came from female employees alleging of Chester's "constant badgering and yelling" and his "preferential treatment" of male employees. Other, more upsetting memos came from clients in recovery at Four Winds Lodge. One, scrawled in almost illegible print, ended: "Thank you for taking the time to read this letter even though it is a bit sloppy but I had to hurry up and write it before I left." These memos complained not of Chester, but of the behavior of Terrence Standing Elk, house manager for Four Winds Lodge.

The Standing Elks enjoy a reputation as a traditional and spiritual Lakota family. They are, by all accounts, powerful and well-connected. Terrence Standing Elk was hired by Grayson late in 1994. Standing Elk's duties did not include counseling, but he lived and interacted with Four Winds clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Four Winds Lodge is a 90-day live-in treatment program adjacent to the center. Drawing on 12-step philosophies and Native American culture, the lodge aims to prepare alcoholics and drug addicts for a life of sobriety. During their first 60 days, clients are not allowed to leave the lodge. Only during the last 30 days of treatment may they work or attend school, and only then on the condition that they sign in and out with the house manager.

Standing Elk reportedly ran Four Winds under his own rules. One client wrote that when he first entered the program, Standing Elk informed him "there was two different programs here. One at the house and one at the front office--and what we do here is our business and I needn't tell them up in the front, particularly Maxine."

Still, reports reached Wilder-Burns and Morillo that Standing Elk was using the center's van to sneak clients out of the lodge and take them not only to the beach, but also to comedy clubs, bingo parlors and strip joints. He allegedly enlisted clients' help to disconnect the van's odometer cable so the mileage would not be recorded. "He always told us that we shouldn't tell anybody because the staff wouldn't let us do it anymore," wrote one client.

If Standing Elk felt these trips were harmless fun, Wilder-Burns felt they undermined the integrity of the program. "Twelve-step programs talk about honesty," she says. "It's on an everyday basis, and you have to live with changed behavior every day of your life. And if you don't have to be dependable and reliable, that's not changing--that's the same behavior you're used to." The clients, she feels, are not to blame. "A lot of them come in there because they're court-ordered. And the less they have to look at themselves and their disease, the happier they are. That's heaven to them. It beats jail."

Meanwhile, Standing Elk was bringing in his father and brothers to act as spiritual advisers to the clients. Morillo and Wilder-Burns say they found it hard to reconcile Standing Elk's behavior with his and his family's claims of spirituality.

The visits from the Standing Elks drove one more wedge between the center's two slowly forming camps. On one side stood Chester and the Standing Elks, whom Morillo only half-jokingly calls "traditionalists." According to Morillo, "They say, 'We're not doing it the white man's way! We're doing it the Indian way!' They just don't want to follow anything that has to do with rules." On the other side stood Grayson, Morillo, Wilder-Burns and other center employees who wanted non-Indians on the center's board. "We don't live in an all-Indian community," Morillo says. "We're urban Indians, all of us. Here we are nearing the year 2000, and these guys are talking about being 'traditional.' "

EVENTUALLY, GRAYSON felt he was forced to take action. Patel found that the mileage on the center's van did not agree with the charges on the gas card. The receptionist reported that Chester rather hostilely suggested she give up her disabled son, as he interfered with her job performance. One Four Winds client, whom staff members nicknamed "The Indian in the Cupboard," was reportedly found living in the lodge's basement during a four-day drinking spree. Another client left the program claiming sexual harassment by Standing Elk. Finally, several days after the barrage of memos, Grayson removed Standing Elk from Four Winds Lodge.

That seemed only to intensify the mood at the center. Reportedly, the now-fired Standing Elk appeared at the center the next day with his mother, Clara, who went from employee to employee demanding that her son be rehired. ("As if I had been the one who fired him?" said one baffled staff member.) Chester, who had received much support from Clara Standing Elk when he was ejected from Oakland's IFH, wrote Grayson a memo stating that he refused to remove Terrence Standing Elk from the Lodge. Grayson then terminated Standing Elk and Chester for what he called "gross violations."

That move resulted in the upheaval of Black Wednesday. Grayson says the April 17 board meeting "went as usual," though the room was crowded with perhaps 20 or 30 members of the community not usually seen at meetings. "We were going to nominate new members," Grayson says. "Three members, who haven't been coming to meetings or trainings, wanted to be put on the board. We put them on the board. Right away, one of them made a motion to have the executive director terminated." Grayson pauses. "And that was it."

Allegations of mismanagement and misconduct were left almost untouched at the meeting. The community--in this case, friends of Chester and the Standing Elks who felt members of their respective tribes had been wronged--galvanized around the larger issue of whether the center was about to be put in the hands of non-Indians.

Segura says the meeting was little more than a shouting match, and little less than a lynch mob. Some in the crowd slammed Grayson for not being able to speak his own language. One person cryptically alluded to Morillo as "Mr. Mud," a Mexican pretending to be an Indian. All clamored for a return to "the Indian way."

The intimidation worked. The board's chairman voluntarily stepped down. Grayson refused to budge, demanding that they fire him. They did. "When they made the motion," Grayson recalls, "I said, 'Okay, I'm out of here.' " Segura walked out halfway through the meeting. "I didn't want to see the rest of it," she says.

Kenneth Chester replaced Nolan Grayson as the center's executive director. Terrence Standing Elk became a Four Winds counselor, and later the program director. After April 17, the American Indian Center would have a different face to show the world.

Rosemary Cambra
Fresh Voice: New board member Rosemary Cambra says the center is reorganizing to improve the working environment for Indian people.

'AROUND HERE," says Bea Woodard, another casualty of Black Wednesday, "the Indian way is: if there are rules and regulations that people don't like, then we do it the Indian way, which is to bypass everything."

A gravelly-voiced woman in her mid-50s, Woodard has been with the center since its beginning and once served as its executive director for a number of years. She's seen the center's periodic flare-ups, and she's weathered the storms. "This time," she says, "maybe because I'm older, I certainly haven't lost any sleep over it."

Yet she remains, like many in her community, troubled by the issues surrounding the center. "We can't be traditional," she states. "We'd have to shed the clothing that we wear because they're Western, and we'd have to go back to the land, which is gone."

Though she, her daughter and her adopted 3-year-old son are all enrolled with the BIA, Woodard sympathizes with those who are not. She feels that drawing fine ethnic lines does more to damage Indian culture than preserve it. "The people who are promoting themselves are the people who need to have some kind of recognition," she says. "I believe that Mexican people are Indians. I'm half Canadian-Indian. Are the Indians in Nicaragua less Indian because they were born in Nicaragua?" She adds, "I think a lot of it's just jealousy. And that's not part of our culture, it never was."

Curtis Reeves, a former executive director, believes the center's problem lies with a community unwilling to follow rules. "I think once bylaws are written and established and have been accepted by the community, people have to respect those," he says.

Reeves voluntarily left the center years ago when the community found fault with his leadership. He rather diplomatically points the finger at both the old and the new administration. "The center is supposed to have bylaws and procedures that aren't vulnerable to outside interference," he says. "Once people have been elected and hired to manage its business, they shouldn't be vulnerable to small groups who come in."

Yet the sore spots within the community--federal recognition, maintaining an all-Indian board, how best to preserve an endangered culture--have been opened and reopened by factions every few years since the center's very beginning. "It's a periodic thing," Reeves says. "I feel a lot of good people have been undermined by sidebar issues that don't focus on what the needs of Indians in Santa Clara Valley are all about." Even the center's former employees, much as they pride themselves on their professionalism, have considered rallying their own warriors and fighting fire with fire.

Reeves swore off any involvement with the center years ago. "I just stay out of it. It's too controversial for me."

MEANWHILE, THE center rides in rough waters. While Richard Winship, a hopeful Four Winds client, waits in the lobby to meet a counselor, the receptionist tells three callers that the lodge will not be admitting anyone for the rest of the month. Winship nods empathetically with each call. He says he has been told repeatedly that the center has overspent and must temporarily close its doors.

Winship, a Choctaw from Milpitas, has been waiting for entrance to Four Winds since last December, when he was sentenced to 100 days in jail for being under the influence of methamphetamines. Winship asked to enter a substance abuse program instead of serving time, and the judge agreed.

Winship has been knocking on Four Winds' door ever since. He also has tried other programs, but to no avail. One San Francisco treatment center had a six-month waiting list. "I told the judge that," Winship says, "and he just laughed. He said, 'Mr. Winship, we might just have a nice little cell for you.' "

Winship's probation officer is pressuring him to enter the same program he first said he would, but time is running out. "I might just go to jail and do my time," he says. "It's quicker. But the reason you don't want to go into jail is because you get a jail attitude. And once you get out, it takes a long time to get rid of that attitude."

Every day, Winship cycles down from Campbell to the center, where he spends whole afternoons sitting on the couch in the lobby, waiting to speak with Chester or Standing Elk. "I had to become a royal pain in the ass," he says, "calling them after hours at 5 or 6 in the morning because I could never get them during work hours."

Having clocked in more time at the center than some of the employees, Winship says, he's heard constant bickering among the staff. "While all this fighting is going on, I'm left in the dark, waiting to get in," he complains.

"This is the kind of thing that's holding our people back," he adds. "Don't let them kid you--the Indians are still pissed off. They're still angry. They may act nice, but they're still continuing the fight. It's just that they're fighting amongst themselves."

THE NEW management at the center proves reticent to speak to the press. Terrence Standing Elk cannot be contacted in person or by phone; one receptionist claimed never to have heard of him at all. Kenneth Chester, however, agrees to be interviewed at the center at 2pm on a Monday.

Chester appears 45 minutes late, bringing with him a handful of recently installed board members. Surprisingly, two of them are Alan Levanthal and Rosemary Cambra, who sit at a conference table. The third, Vernon Smith, lies on a couch reading a Sharper Image catalogue. Chester doodles on a yellow note pad, allowing Levanthal and Cambra to field most questions.

Cambra, a short, rotund woman with a shock of white hair, takes control of the meeting by refusing to discuss what she calls "personnel issues." "I don't want to get into this," she says. "I don't think we ourselves should sit down and discuss among the public and among ourselves, openly, personnel issues. What we're looking at is how we can reorganize and better change the environment, and the working environment for Indian people."

When asked to respond to criticism of the center's perceived "traditional" philosophy, the board bristles. Cambra refuses to answer the question unless she is told the names of the center's critics. Levanthal dismisses the topic as "hearsay," claims never to have heard of "traditionalism," and suggests looking up the word in the dictionary. Chester answers, "I work for the board."

Smith, however, rears up off the couch. "We're doing good here, and we want to do good for our people," he says. "Traditionally, and culturally. That's all we got left. And you want us to fill you in on our tradition and our culture? Why you ask us to share our culture and our tradition with you when you got everything else you got--and we had?"

"What he's really talking about," Levanthal interjects, "is that he's dealing with the view of the dominant society and how the dominant society decides how it will cast and frame issues without understanding what real critical issues are for native people."

Levanthal feels that to ask about traditionalism is to miss the larger issues. "Think about the resources here, look at where we're located," he says, sweeping an arm around the shabby room. "And think about what has been given up: my native people."

Though Levanthal is not a Native American, he complains of the rules that govern nonprofits in California, which he feels undermine Indians' cultural integrity. "It demands strict conformity that you constantly yield up your native identity, and your native way of thinking, in order for it to conform to this dominant society's view on how nonprofits should function. And after you've expended 98 percent of your efforts there, with the remaining 2 percent you now have the luxury of taking care of the needs of the people."

The subject turns to the hard work Chester does. "This man can go on to a much better job without the headaches," Levanthal says. "Something must be keeping him here, and it's certainly not the salary." Smith speaks of the failing programs and funding sources Chester has rescued. Cambra laments that the interview has taken up so much of Chester's valuable time. "This man is inundated with work!" she cries. "This man knows it, and he's really trying to tell you he's performing!"

From among the board's enigmatic answers comes the glimmer of a new policy: In these lean times, the center must tighten its belt and make some tough, and possibly unpopular, calls.

Chester acknowledges that he has asked the United Way to "clarify" their requirement of an ethnically diverse board. "They said they encouraged diversity," Chester explains. "And I told them that the Indian population is a very diverse group, coming with different nationalities, coming from geographically different areas. Some grew up totally in an urban setting, some migrated in from rural areas or reservations or rancherias."

There are hints that the center's open-door policy is slowly closing: BIA documentation, which has always been a requirement of those seeking center services, must be strictly enforced. Chester notes that if U.S. investigators audit the center, they can demand proof that the government's money was spent on documented Indians. "We're the only ones that have to prove that we're a race," Chester says. "Blacks can have their program, they can come in and say, 'I'm African American,' and they get services. Hispanics, same thing. They're never asked for documentation."

If some call this traditionalism, Levanthal responds, "the antithesis of that would presumably be assimilationist, which means to say that there is no worth in being Indian, there is no worth in finding strength within one's tribe, and one should basically give up the ghost and be absorbed in the larger mainstream American society." He adds, "An assimilationist ideology coming from non-Indian people is an ethnocidal policy."

THE CASUALTIES of Black Wednesday have received little sympathy from their community. "I'm not as distressed by the uprising at the center as others are," says one Indian elder. "Even though it's painful at the moment, it's sometimes beneficial." Joe Salque, chairman of the Advisory Council on California Indian Policy, seems rather pleased with the new center. "We always say that if you let one non-Indian on the board, they'll take over the whole program," he says. "In San Jose, if you let one Hispanic on the board, it'll turn into a Hispanic program."

Meanwhile, the center's funding agencies proceed cautiously. Despite the fact that its five-year partnership with the center's library has all but dissolved, the city of San Jose has granted the center $17,000 for the upcoming year. The center has asked for an extension to apply for $300,000 from the Indian Health Service in Sacramento. A spokesman, who notes that IHS is aware of the center's problems, says the money will likely be awarded. While the Department of Labor has sent a federal representative to perform a review of the center's job training program, it has also given the center $130,000. For reasons unspecified by the United Way, the center did not meet the criteria to receive its third year of funding.

Morillo says that most people tell him to try not to be bitter and to move on. He begins classes at San Jose State in September, and now works in a machine shop to pay his rent. Patel reports that she has had job offers from another nonprofit out of state. Segura, who closed her gift shop to show support for Grayson, continues to look for another location. Woodard devotes her attention to her adopted son. Yet, though few are willing to say so, they still seem to feel deeply disappointed by their community.

"People say they wish they could do something, but then they just sit back and watch what's going to happen," Woodard says. "They'll just wait until a decision is made, and then they'll be on the side of the winner. Those people never lose."

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From the July 18-24, 1996 issue of Metro

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