Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Pechanga Water Rights Bill that CHEATS allottees of Their RIGHTS up for Hearing on Capitol Hill

A bill to settle the water rights of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians is up for discussion on Capitol Hill this week.

The House Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans will hold a hearing on Thursday on a discussion draft of the settlement. A bill hasn't actually been introduced in the House at this point and prior versions have not cleared Congress despite years of lobbying by the southern California tribe.  OP: AND us, the opposition in 2010 and, we knew we were in trouble when Interiors lead negotiator wouldn't meet with us In 2013 we met with Sen. Boxer's people and with the HOUSE Natural Resources to defeat the bill.

On the Senate side, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs approved S.1983, the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians Water Rights Settlement Act, at a business meeting on February 3. The committee did not hold a hearing on the bill but a prior version received a hearing during the 113th Congress.

We wrote a letter to Rep Ken Calvert on the issue but funny, didn't hear from his team either...

Here is text of a letter we wrote to Sen. Boxer back then, the numbers were different for the bills:

Dear Senator Boxer,

I am writing you in regards to the recent Pechanga Water Rights Bill that was introduced in the Senate (S 1219) with your sponsorship. We have concerns, having had our tribal citizenship terminated by the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians.  Many of our family reside on an original Pechanga allotment of land granted to us by President McKinley.

We believe that no entity that participates in, supports, or otherwise partakes in human and/or civil rights violations should benefit from the public trust.  And this bill, as written certainly gives Pechanga benefits that we seem to be excluded from.

Please help us clarify WHY the tribe wants definitions of allottees changed?  Here is the draft of the first water rights bill of 2010 (which could be taken to mean purchaser of reservation land, whether Indian or not:

(4) ALLOTTEE- The term ‘allottee’ means a person who holds a beneficial real property interest in an Indian allotment that is--

(A) located within the Reservation; and
(B) held in trust by the United States.  

In the NEW definitions section allottee are defined at a member of an Indian tribe, notwithstanding the fact that allottee could be Indian without tribal membership.  As you know, Pechanga terminated the membership of 25% of their tribe, which has NO BEARING on our allotment; we are STILL allottees of reservation land and should have all rights.  

(4) Allottee.--The term ``allottee'' means a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe who holds a beneficial real property interest in an Indian allotment that is--
(A) Located within the Reservation; and

(B) Held in trust by the United States

By using the terms above, they are trying to rewrite history and redefine what an allottee of the Temecula Indian Reservation really is.  An allottee is one who received a reservation allotment from President McKinley and whose land has been held in trust by the United States for the allottee and their lineal descendents.


  1. Are you intending to exclude our family, as disenrolled Pechanga allottees, from any say in our water rights?
  2. Is it your intent in this bill to abrogate the Federal government’s trust responsibility to disenrolled Pechanga allottees?
  3. Why are allottees not required to be INDIAN for purposes of this law.
  4. Is it your intent to rectify the injustice of our disenrollment from the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians which was unconstitutional, according to Pechanga’s own tribal constitution, and return our tribal membership using Congress’ plenary power?

Under Section 5, TRIBAL WATER RIGHTS it states:

(3) Allocations.--Allotted land of an allottee that is located within the exterior boundaries of the Reservation shall be entitled to a just and equitable allocation of water for irrigation purposes from the water resources described in the Pechanga Settlement Agreement.

1,  Although we have had grape vineyards on our allotted land for over a century, does “irrigation purposes” include maintaining the water we have going into our homes for drinking and personal use?

2. Would the Pechanga Tribal Council be able to cut water off from members of our family living on our allotted land on the reservation, even though we have been on our allotted property for over a century?

Regional Director of the BIA Amy Dutschke said in a letter to us that:  

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.

Pechanga Chairman Mark Macarro and the tribal council have made NO ATTEMPT to discuss OUR WATER RIGHTS and how they will protect us.  We have over 175 family members with rights on our allotment #62, which has been in our family since 1895.

Please rescind your support of S 1219 until the Pechanga Water Rights Bill includes disenrolled original tribal allottees, and other allottees that have been denied membership, which number in the HUNDREDS.   

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