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Opinion: Chumash Tribe too wealthy to follow land-into-trust

Filed Under: Opinion | Trust
More on: bia, california, chumash, ira, land-into-trust

Writer says the Indian Reorganization Act was never meant to benefit "wealthy" tribes like the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians in California:
In a recent interview, the Chumash tribal chairman made the point that the community’s resistance to the annexation of Camp 4 was not about money or building houses, it was about race.

An unfortunate statement, but a demonstration of the chairman’s need to divert attention from the economic aspects of this legal issue. Here’s why:

Since annexation comes at huge cost to everyone else in the community, annexation law requires the tribe to demonstrate an "immediate need" or "necessity" for housing or economic development.

But, according to tribal documents, the casino generates profit of about $1 million per year per tribal member, of which about $600,000 is distributed to each member every year. This is over 30 times the average personal income in Santa Barbara County. Chumash tribal members are in the top 10 percent of the top 1-percent income group in America.

Even if all 1,300 descendants were admitted to the tribe, the individual income still would be over $100,000 per year each, nearly four times the personal income in the state and county. This tribe would remain one of the highest-income communities in the entire United States.

Get the Story:
Bob Field: The economics of Camp 4 annexation (The Santa Maria Times 2/1)

Related Stories:
IBIA dismisses challenges to Chumash Tribe land consolidation (11/05)
Opinion: Far-away lawmaker introduces bill for Chumash Tribe (10/31)
Vincent Armenta: Chumash Tribe strives to be good neighbor (10/24)

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