Opinion: Questioning Chumash Tribe's legitimacy

"Vincent Armenta, Chairman of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians continued a litany of disparaging remarks concerning citizens groups and media outlets located in Los Olivos (POLO) and Santa Ynez (POSY), groups that have in the past questioned the Chairman’s leadership and tribal activities.

Behind all the comments and counter-comments made between the tribe and these two groups there is not only a question of distrust, but a core issue that centers upon the question of legitimacy. Myriad questions have arisen as to the legitimacy of the tribe, the legitimacy of the Santa Ynez reservation, and even the genealogical legitimacy of Chairman Armenta. We are confronted then, with three such core issues: tribe, reservation, and leadership. When these three issues are examined, we will be able to see why there is such a controversy.

First of all, there is the question of the legitimacy of the reservation. Chairman Armenta, in his May 2005 testimony presented to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee claimed that a reservation was established in 1901 for the Santa Ynez by the federal government. When the historical record is examined, we find this was not so.

Is it no wonder that residents of Los Olivos and Santa Ynez question the legitimacy of the current Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, its leadership, and by extension the legitimacy of their gaming facility established under the provisions of the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, and act intended for federally-recognized Indian tribes, residing upon federally established Indian reservations whose lands are held in-trust by the federal government. All POLO and POSY are asking for are accurate and honest answers to fair, legitimate questions."

Get the Story:
The Santa Ynez Chumash: A question of legitimacy (The Capitol Weekly 11/22)

Relevant Links:
Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians - http://www.santaynezchumash.org

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