Law | Politics | Trust

President Obama endorses land-into-trust foe in Senate contest in California






U.S. Senate candidate Kamala Harris (D) on the campaign trail. Photo from Facebook

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden endorsed Kamala Harris in California's Democrat-only U.S. Senate race.

In a statement released by the Harris campaign, Obama and Biden cited the candidate's record as the state's attorney general. What they left out were her repeated attacks on the ability of tribes to follow the land-into-trust process, a key priority of the Obama administration.

As the state's top legal official, Harris tried to undermine status of land that was placed in trust for the Big Lagoon Rancheria more than a decade ago. The case was watched closely throughout Indian Country out of fear that her agenda could affect tribes nationwide.

But tribes breathed a sigh of relief when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Harris in June 2015. She did not ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision, a move that could have drawn negative attention to her campaign.

But even before that case, Harris tried to prevent tribes from acquiring homelands. Since taking office in 2011, she opposed at least 15 land-into-trust applications, Dave Palermo reported for Pechanga.net in February 2014.

The California Democratic Party Native American Caucus also criticized Harris for her efforts in yet another case that sought to diminish the boundaries of the reservation of the Colorado River Indian Tribes. A federal judge refused to entertain the matter in a win for the tribe.

The other candidate in the race is Loretta Sanchez, a member of Congress. The two Democrats advanced to the November general election after winning the most votes in a June primary.

Get the Story:
Obama endorses Kamala Harris in California Senate race (AP 7/19)

En Banc 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Decisions:
Big Lagoon Rancheria v. California (July 8, 2015)
Big Lagoon Rancheria v. California (June 4, 2015)

Earlier 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Decision:
Big Lagoon Rancheria v. California (January 21, 2014)

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