A group of Temecula Indians and allottees is currently in Washington DC and we will begin making rounds tomorrow in opposition the the numerous proposed Pechanga Water Rights Settlement Acts.
We have been made aware that ther will be a hearing on the two (2) House bills- HR 4285 and HR 2956- on Thursday in front of the Subcommittee on Water and Power. Please read the attached letter in opposition to the proposed bills. It is important to get as many of these letters submitted to the Subcommittee prior to Thursday's hearing.
Please send them via fax to the following numbers (202)225-1931; (202)226-6953; (202)225-5929.
However, it may be easier to email your letter, once you have added your contact information at the end, to the following email addresses:
Chairwoman Napolitano Via email and/or fax
House Sub-Committee on Water and Power
1324 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Re: Opposition to HR 4285 and HR 5413
Honorable Chairwoman Napolitano and Committee Members:
I am a registered voter, and I submit this letter in opposition to HR 4285 and HR 5413 the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians Water Rights Settlement Acts (“Acts“).
In their current forms, both HR 4285 and HR 5413 fail to protect the property interests and water rights of hundreds of Temecula Indians and allottees.
Over the past six (6) plus years, Pechanga officials have disenrolled over 400 previously recognized tribal members. Additionally, hundreds more have been denied membership in the tribe under an illegal moratorium enacted to limit the number of people who benefit from the tribe’s economic development ventures.
Those who have been disenrolled and denied membership include many allottees that would be adversely affected by the Acts as they provide that the very officials who have stripped or denied the allottees of rights set forth in tribal and federal law shall be responsible for satisfying the very same allottees’ entitlement to water.
Additionally, the Acts fails to provide adequate protections for allottees against future abuses by Pechanga tribal officials in the settlement and allocation of their rights under the Acts. Stronger safeguards and greater penalties are needed to deter tribal officials from once again taking or denying ownership rights vested in allottees and others who may have rights under the settlement agreement and the Acts.
I also oppose the Acts as they fail to provide and protect the rights of the Temecula band or village of Indians, and their descendants. The Reservation was set aside by Executive Orders dated June 27, 1882 and August 29, 1893, for the use and benefit of the Temecula Indians.
Whereas the Acts reference the dates of the Executive Orders listed above as “priority dates” defining and determining the characteristics of the water rights, representative of the Temecula Band of Indians would be the appropriate parties to participate in the water rights settlement talks and the drafting of the Acts.
In fact, inclusion of separate representation of Temecula Indian interests would be consistent with decisions made by Pechanga tribal officials over the past six years where said officials have determined that Temecula Indians and Pechanga Indians are different people.
In spite of claims made by Pechanga tribal officials to represent the Temecula Indians and all allottees, this is not the first time that tribal officials may have misinformed Congress as to their true intent or motive.
In regards to a requested Congressional action to protect tribal fee lands and transfer said lands into trust, Pechanga Chairman Macarro testified to the House Committee on Natural Resources on April 17, 2002 that:
“The sole purpose of the (land) acquisition is the preservation and protection of the Luiseno people’s natural and cultural resources.”
And, when specifically asked if the Pechanga Tribe had “any plans for development of any kind on the Great Oak Ranch property”, Chairman Macarro’s response was as follows:
“No, we don’t. As stated in our application (to transfer to trust) … there is no (planned) change in use in the property,...”
Chairman Macarro was then asked if the Pechanga tribe planned to use the Great Oak Ranch for gaming purposes or any other purposes other than what he had just outlined. His response was, “No, the tribe does not”.
However, since the transfer of the Great Oak Ranch into trust, the Ranch has been turned into a staging area for on-going construction projects both on the Ranch and associated with the casino complex. The character of the Ranch has been drastically altered and in no way reflects the “no change in use” testified to and used by Pechanga tribal officials in lobbying Congress and federal agencies for its protection and transfer to trust.
Finally, absent an actual settlement agreement and resolution of the issues listed above, I believe it is premature to move forward with the Acts. There is too much uncertainty as to who has standing to represent hundreds of Temecula Indians and allottees who will be affected by the Acts and the settlement agreement.
Due to the Acts’ failures to adequately protect the rights of hundreds of allottees and Temecula Indians, and the other concerns/issues stated above, I re-state my opposition to HR 4285 and HR 5413 and respectfully request that you oppose the Acts until such time as the Acts are amended to protect the interests of all allottees and descendants of the Temecula Band or village for whom the reservation was set aside.
Thank you for your time and consideration.