Column: Language and non-language on PL280
"I finally understand why the sheriff and the Soboba Indians don't hit it off:

They don't communicate in Luiseño, native language of the Soboba band. They don't communicate in English, native language of the sheriff. They miscommunicate in a nonlanguage nobody understands.

A couple of days ago, the tribe, the Sheriff's Department and Indian law experts met to discuss Public Law 280 -- a 55-year-old federal law that places reservations in California and other states under authority of state and local law enforcement.

The sheriff isn't nuts about enforcing PL 280 (says he's just following the law). The tribe isn't nuts about how the sheriff enforces the law. And everyone thinks whoever wrote the law did a lousy job. So here we are, inching toward what could be a rare agreement on something! And what happens?

They start speaking that nonlanguage. Start talking about "retrocession."

A UCLA law prof volunteers that retrocession has worked in the past. The tribe's chairman says he'd like to look into retrocession. But how does the sheriff feel about retrocession? Nobody seems to know. What is retrocession?

Let's start with what it isn't. A word. My dictionary flows from "retroactive" to "retrofire." So what do they mean when they say "retrocession"?

Fifty minutes with a therapist who wears bell-bottoms and a paisley shirt?"

Get the Story:
Dan Bernstein: 'Word' imperfect (The Riverside Press-Enterprise 8/14)

Related Stories:
Soboba Band seeks state certification for officers (8/13)
Hundreds attend Soboba Band forum on Public Law 280 (8/12)
Soboba Band forum on Public Law 280 on Monday (8/8)
NIGC visits Soboba casino amid fears of violence (8/8)
State orders parolees to leave Soboba Reservation (8/7)
County sheriff won't attend Soboba Band forum (8/5)
Sheriff worried about more violence at Soboba (8/4)
Tensions continue between Soboba Band and sheriff (7/31)
County sheriff asks NIGC to close Soboba casino (7/30)
Sheriff accused of negligence in Soboba man's death (7/25)
Soboba Band signs mediation agreement with county (7/8)
Soboba Band to sign law enforcement agreement (7/3)
City seeks delay in Soboba Band land-into-trust (7/2)
County official blames Soboba leaders for violence (5/30)
County sheriff hopes to improve tribal relations (5/29)
Soboba Band meets with county sheriff again (5/23)
Soboba Band meets county after fatal shootings (5/19)
Soboba Band plans to sue county over shootings (5/16)
Soboba couple killed while hiding from police (5/15)
Column: Law and disorder on Soboba Reservation (5/15)
Soboba chair cites 'war' against county 'calvary' (5/14)
Two dead in shootout at Soboba Reservation (5/13)
Soboba man killed in gunfight on reservation (5/9)
Overall crime rate has dropped on Soboba Reservation (1/23)
Rise in violence cited on Soboba Reservation (1/10)
Arrest made in homicide on Soboba Reservation (4/18)
Second homicide on Soboba Reservation in 2007 (4/6)
County to stop patrolling Soboba Reservation (8/21)
Soboba Band cancels law enforcement pact (8/15)
Weapons cache seized on Soboba Reservation (5/5)
Soboba Band expands police services agreement (03/29)
Soboba Band signs law enforcement contract (06/29)