Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Palermo: Tribes angry at California AG Kamala Harris' land/trust letters to Interior

American Indians are outraged at the California Attorney General’s stepped-up opposition to tribal efforts to place land in trust for casinos, fire stations, water treatment plants and other purposes, according to tribal lawyers and lobbyists.

Although the Attorney General’s office has long been critical of tribal efforts to place lands in federal trust, tribal leaders contend the pace of the opposition letters have accelerated, and they reject the agency’s claim it is acting on directions of Governor Jerry Brown.

While Brown has worked cooperatively with Indian tribes on tribal-state compacts and other matters, the AG’s office over the past year has sent about a dozen letters to the Pacific Region office of theDepartment of Interior protesting tribal land/trust applications.

Two of the letters oppose efforts by the Cloverdale Rancheria of Pomo Indians and Mechoopda Maidu Indians to place land in trust for casinos.

Another AG letter opposes efforts by the San Pascual Band of DiegueƱo Mission Indians to place land in trust for a fire station. And yet another opposes a land/trust application by the Tule River Indian Tribe for a waste water treatment plant.

“We are shocked and dismayed your administration would take such a hostile position against tribes who seek to become more self-sufficient through the acquisition of an adequate land base,” the Northern California Tribal Chairman’s Association said in a June 12 letter to Brown.

Robert Smith, chairman of both the Pala Band of Luiseno Indians and the California Fee-to-Trust Consortium, a partnership of tribes and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, requested in a June letter to Attorney General Kamala Harris that she withdraw the letters, issue a moratorium on further comments and review her office’s policy on land/trust matters.

The letters “attacked the very foundation of the federal statutes authorizing land in trust acquisitions, fostering discord and misunderstanding between tribal nations and the state of California,” Smith wrote.

Harris has not responded to the requests.

  OP: She should remind Smith to mind his own business. When he follows his own tribal constitution, he could advise CA what to do.
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