Opinion: Evidence shows Chumash Tribe's legitimacy in doubt

"In an earlier essay published in the Santa Ynez Valley Journal, it was established on the basis of historical documentation that current Chumash Chairman Vincent Armenta – as well as a substantial number of the so-called Santa Ynez Chumash – lacked genealogical or historical ties to any of the numerous independent Chumash villages which once dotted this region, as well as being descended from the original Santa Ynez Mission Indian community.

It must be understood, that historically, there was never a Chumash tribe, only scattered, independent, politically autonomous village bands. For Chairman Armenta to assert that his present-day group represents, or lays claim as a successor in interest to all the lands these historical bands or villages once occupied, is an abject fallacy. The Chumash never organized themselves into a politically united tribal entity.

Whilst we are discussing lands, what of the lands the present-day Santa Ynez Chumash call their reservation? This is especially important in light of Chairman Armenta’s current quest to establish a second 1,400 acre reservation/casino on the former 1,400 Fess Parker tract. A critical examination of the many historical documents available raises substantial questions concerning the legitimacy of their current reservation lands as a federal trust patent reservation.

In a Letter written by Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Carl Artman, dated May 16, 2007, Artman presented the current Bureau of Indian Affairs official position regarding the Santa Ynez Chumash reservation:

The reservation for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians was established December 27, 1901 pursuant to the Act of 1891 (26 Stat. 71-714, c.65) and the band has had a bilateral political relationship with the federal government since at least the Act of 1891."

Get the Story:
James P. Lynch: CHUMASH RESERVATION - WHAT RESERVATION? (The Santa Ynez Valley Journal 4/7)

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