Saturday, May 17, 2008

Senate Committee On Indian Affairs: Please Call and ask them to say NO to Pechanga, a civil rights violator.

Dear Senate Committee and Senior Counsel Rollie Wilson,

Please do not consider transferring land to the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians at your meeting on Thursday.

The land should be transferred to all Indians with ties to the cultural and sacred sites. If a transfer occurs that fails to include ownership and use rights for all affected Indians, the Pechanga Band will do what it has done before and deny access to individuals who have undisputed cultural and lineal ties to the sacred sites but who are not considered Pechanga members.

I also oppose H.R. 2963 based on the Pechanga Band’s actions to deprive and deny individuals of their human and civil rights. No entity that participates in, supports, or otherwise partakes in human and/or civil rights violations should benefit from the public trust. The actions taken by the Pechanga Band -denial of due process, failure to provide equal protection of the laws, establishment of ex post facto laws, etc.- mirror those which led to the introduction and passage of the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 ("ICRA"). The ICRA was intended to “… protect individual Indians from arbitrary and unjust actions of tribal governments” and to secure for the individual American Indian the broad constitutional rights afforded all other American citizens.

However, Pechanga Tribal officials have hid behind the Tribe’s sovereignty to escape prosecution and to prevent the victims of their actions from seeking recourse for the injury and harm resulting from the human and civil rights violations. Although the tribal officials may be immune from suit, this does not equate to innocence of action.
Additionally, I would ask Congress to take a hard look at lands previously transferred to trust for the Pechanga Band. Specifically, the Great Oak Ranch was transferred with the intent of protecting it and its invaluable resources from a proposed transmission line project that threatened to negatively impact the Great Oak and other resources.

Over the course of several years, the Pechanga Band spent a great amount of time and money lobbying Congress to protect the Great Oak Ranch. Many meetings were held between Pechanga officials, government agencies, and Congressional members regarding the issue. During those meetings, it was stressed that the Great Oak and the Great Oak Ranch needed to be protected from construction impacts and the Pechanga Band had no intent to change the use of the ranch. In fact, Congressman Issa introduced at least one bill to protect the Great Oak and the Great Oak Ranch from the transmission project.

Today, with the Great Oak and the Great Oak Ranch spared from the transmission line project and the property transferred into trust, a portion of the Ranch has been turned into a staging area for on-going construction projects both on the Ranch and on adjacent properties. The character of the Ranch has been drastically changed and in no way reflects the “no change in use” mantra used by Pechanga officials in lobbying Congress and federal agencies for its protection and transfer to trust. Please do not consider a yes on H.R. 2963

DEMOCRATS 202 228-2589 Republicans 202 224-5429

PHONE: (202) 224-2251 Ask for Rollie Wilson

Please send your letters in opposition to the numbers above.

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