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 Diegueño 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.
Could it be because of reservations like Pechanga that have asked for land to be put in trust and swore not to develop it and then turned it in to a golf course for the casino? Then told congress and the interior that once it is in trust they could do whatever they wanted to do with it.
It is sad that Pechanga is the face of Indian gamming here in CA. It is quite possible that Anonymous "August 13, 2013 at 4:56 PM" is correct and that and the other tribes who are like Pechanga are partially to blame.
Why put land in trust for tribes that eliminate legitimate members in order to increase their share of casino revenue? They can buy the land just like anyone else, and then there would be no questions asked.
Many tribes do buy the land. Then the land falls under the state and city tax brackets the zoning laws state and city environmental laws as well as public opinion for developing. So for the land to fall under federal protection of tribal land that is protected under treaties and congressional contracts it needs to be put in trust the same as all reservation land. The problem I see is that these tribes break their own constitutions and by laws disenrolling tribal members that can prove it and Embezzle money. They promise congress how or how not what they will do with the land and then when it is put in trust they do what they want and scream sovereignty we can do what we want no matter if its braking promises or braking civil or criminal laws.
To 8:55 AM
Right, and because of these abuses of sovereignty and violations of their own tribal laws they do not deserve the protections provided by trust status. The intent of corrupt tribal officers is easily understood. They want to add land to trust so they can use it to increase their wealth and power. Most of the time tribal members are not given an opportunity to vote on the land acquisitions, or don't realize that only the tribal officers will benefit from such transfers of land into trust.
Since there is no way to make Tribal officers conform with the plans for use submitted when applying for trust protection, their applications should be automatically denied. The game that politicians are playing with Indians needs to be stopped. The politicians want campaign contributions and endorsement from tribes, so they act as though they are in favor of issues important to tribal officers.
Individual Indians do not count however. We can have our civil rights violated, have our benefits and heritage stripped from us, lose our tribal citizenship without committing any offense against our tribe, and be denied any recourse in court, from the BIA, or from Congress.
Has any politician come out publicly and denounced the disenrollments of legitimate tribal members? Not if they want the money and support of corrupt tribal officers.
The injustice keeps mounting, and no one cares about the damage done to innocent people, victimized by greedy tribal officers with the cooperation of the people who are supposed to protect their welfare.
The disgusting record of Tribal Officers destroying their own people will work against all Indians. The same politicians that are making it possible to eliminate tribal citizens without reason or due process, will someday use this record of evil, and they will turn it against all Indians. Good Indians must act according to their conscience and depose the criminals that pretend to represent their tribes when it is evident that they only represent their own selfish interests.
Indians must act to restore freedom and rule of law or they too will one day face the loss of tribal citizenship. One day they may discover that the Federal Government is no longer interested in protecting their lands and sovereignty, because the lure of their casinos and the revenue they generate is too enticing to resist.
Very well said. *****
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