Many members of Paulina Hunter descendents are receiving letters from Amy Dutschke, Regional Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, in response to our concerns over not being consulted on the Water Rights Bill that Pechanga was trying to get pushed through the last Congress.
From the BIA letters, here is where the DOI admits to our water rights:
The Department of the Interior recognizes that allottees have water rights on allotted lands and that the United States has a trust responsibility, independent of any responsibility to the Pechanga Band, to protect those interests.
The Department is currently reviewing the proposed settlement legislation and its effect on allottees within the Reservation.
Please remember that the Hunter family is one of the few original allottees to maintain their land on the reservation. We have homes on the original 20 acres we were allotted in 1895. We were part of the Temecula Band of Luiseno Indians, which somehow disappeared and became the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, which has FEW allottees in the tribe.
Second, while a settlement may contain a provision to the effect that a tribe shall have the right, subject to applicable federal law, to manage, regulate and control the on-reservation use of all of the water rights granted or confirmed by the settlement, it must also require that, within a set period of time following execution of the settlement, the tribe enact a comprehensive water code governing all water rights granted or confirmed by the settlement. OP: A tribe that came into existence 100 years AFTER we got our land would set up a code for water that is OURS and then put us at their mercy? Do you think the tribal council cares about water for allottees, or water for the casino? HINT: Tribal Chair Macarro does not live on the reservation, and rarely VISITS the reservation.
To be effective, the code should contain (a) a process by which any allottee may request and receive an equitable distribution of irrigation water for use on his or her allotted lands; (b) a decision making process that gives the allottee due process of law in deciding on such requests, including a process for appeal and hearing before an impartial judge or tribunal; and (c) a provision that the code does not take effect until the Secretary of the Interior has approved those parts of it, or any subsequent amendments thereto, that address irrigation water use by allottees. OP: Uh, yeah, Amy, we TRIED that with our disenrollment or rather extermination from the tribe. There IS no impartiality when someone who does NOT own land tells you what to do with your land.
We are aware that the Pechanga Tribal Government presented and discussed with the Tribal membership the Settlement Agreement, allottee rights and a section by section review of the legislation on Septmber 12, 2010.
OP: But were you AWARE that we, the allottees were NOT party to the settlement agreement? WE receive NO notice of the meeting, the presentation. WE were NOT party to the construction of the agreement. Pamela Williams was at a meeting with the tribe, interesting that we were not made aware of it. We have requested meetings with her and haven't heard back. We REQUESTED to be involved!
I. The Department of the Interior and Pechanga Band Failed to Notify Allottees of the Negotiations to Settle Water Rights
2. After several requests, the Department has not allowed us to participate in Negotiations
3. Pechanga Tribal Officials do not Represent the Interests of all Temecula Indians or Temecula Indian Allottees
4. Temecula Indian and Temecula Indian Allottees should be Parties to the Settlement Negotiations and consulted regarding pending Acts of Congress
5. Prior to any action, HR 5413, and other Acts, should be Amended to Reflect the Ownership Interests and Water Rights Due Temecula Indians and Temecula Indian Allottees not represented by Pechanga Tribal Officials
6. The term ‘Tribal Water Right’ should be Amended to Reflect Benefit for Temecula Band and Temecula Indian Allottees
7. Entitlement to Water Shall be Satisfied by the Department of the Interior, the Temecula Band, or the Pechanga Band; and Temecula Indians and/or Temecula Indian Allottees shall not be Subject to the Pechanga Water Code or other Pechanga Band laws
PROTECT OUR TRUST RIGHTS, Director Dutschke.