OP: Pechanga LIED when they told the Interior that they wanted 296 acres to maintain cultural significance to tribal life. There were very few tribal golfers back then, and fewer good ones.
Silver said tribes sometimes lose sight of that goal once a fee-to-trust transfer is approved. He cited the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians' application to transfer of 296 acres into fee-to-trust in Temecula as an example:
According to its stated purpose at the time, the tribe wanted to maintain existing cultural resources and native vegetation of cultural significance to tribal life, Silver said. Pechanga asserted in its application that given the "vast occurrence of cultural resources found on the site, no development is proposed."
Based on that assurance, the Bureau of Indian affairs concluded in March 2001 that the proposed annexation would not harm the environment. By early 2007, however, the tribe was building a golf course on a portion of the land, Silver said.
"This golf course development was especially troubling given the parcel's location within...the Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan," Silver said.
The majority of the 296.29 acres had been designated potentially sensitive habitat.
In response, Pechanga's General Counsel John Macarro, wrote, "Once the land is placed in trust, a tribe has complete zoning and planning authority over it and can change land uses just as a county or city can change or update its general plan or zoning designations."
Meaning: Just because we said we wanted to maintain cultural sites and don't propose development if you just give us the land free, doesn't mean we can't put a golf course there.