Thursday, June 27, 2013

Pechanga Gets Support in Water Rights Issue. Are Allottee's Water Rights Protected?

Yesterday, the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians Water Rights Settlement Act was introduced in the United States Senate (S. 1219) and House of Representatives (H.R. 2508).    

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced the bill in the Senate and was joined by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), an original cosponsor. 
Cong. Ken Calvert (R-CA) introduced the bill in the House of Representatives and was joined by a bipartisan list of lawmakers who co-sponsored the legislation including Cong. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Cong. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Cong. Jeff Denham (R-CA), Cong. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Cong. Paul Cook (R-CA), Cong. David Valadao (R-CA), Cong. Tom Cole (R-OK), Cong. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Cong. Betty McCollum (D-MN), Cong. Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Cong. Raul Ruiz (D-CA), and Cong. Dan Kildee (D-MI).

Pechanga Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro said, “Generations of Pechanga leaders have endeavored to secure our access to this important resource and there is nothing more important to the future of our tribe.  This Settlement will finally secure a permanent source of water for our tribal members for generations to come, while ending the costly and protracted litigation process.  We extend our thanks to Sen. Boxer and Sen. Feinstein for their support in the Senate.  We are also grateful for Cong. Calvert’s leadership on this bill in the House and we look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to bring this next and final chapter to a close.”

The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Mission Indians Water Rights Settlement Act quantifies the Band’s reserved water rights in the Santa Margarita River Watershed.  The legislation also authorizes necessary infrastructure to guarantee a permanent supply of water to the Band through cooperative agreements with the local water purveyors, including Rancho California Water District, Eastern Municipal Water District and Metropolitan Water District.  Importantly, the legislation will provide a coordinated effort by the parties to manage the water within the basin that will bring all residents of the Pechanga Reservation a safe and dependable water supply for the future. 

The authority for Congress to legislatively settle Pechanga’s water rights resides in Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the Constitution, which grants Congress with the power “to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”

We wrote about this issue in 2011 when the Tribe LIED to Congress that only a dozen or so allottees had interest in the land, when there were closer to 200.  Here's that link.

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. 


Anonymous said...

No wonder neither one of Senators Boxer or Feinstien cared to much about the letters I wrote last year about dis-enrollment at Pechanga and Pala. They support the Senators so the Senators supports the tribal leaders which everyone seems to not understand by calling them the tribe when they are not the tribe but dictators that have taken over the tribe Mark & Robert.

Anonymous said...

The more money Pechanga spends to get their water rights bill, the less they have to give to existing tribal members.

'aamokat said...

"The more money Pechanga spends to get their water rights bill, the less they have to give to existing tribal members."

But that isn't why we are against them getting exclusive control over our water as they could find an excuse to cut us off from our water we are supposed to get as allottees. We need to have a say so on water issues but we were not included in the negociations or included in the decision making process within the tribe so nobody, officially, is speaking for us and our water rights.

We didn't get due process and fairness in our disenrollment proceedings so we are supposed to trust Pechanga now with our water rights?

Anonymous said...

I'd say that we need to do something to protect our water rights. What do you suggest 'aamokat??

White Buffalo said...

It is still my belief that the US government has a fiduciary responsibility to the allotted land holders whether they are tribal members or not. It is unfortunate that it will take an illegal action by the tribe. say cutting off your water, and then leaving no recourse to address the issue. Then it become an issue that the BIA could conceivably take action against the tribe to insure the allotte's water rights are maintained.

'aamokat said...

For starters, we need to contact our congressman and senators and tell them to oppose the bills until our water rights are guaranteed. Can we trust Pechanga to look out for our interests when we were given no due process during our disenrollment proceedings? I have alread contacted Congressman Ken Calvert's office and told them just that.