Opinion | Politics | Trust

Column: Chumash Tribe land-into-trust bill stirs up opposition

Map shows land consolidation area for Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, including proposed trust land acquisition. Image from Camp 4 Fee-to-Trust Environmental Assessment

Columnist looks at the debate over H.R.3313, a bill to place 1,400 acres in trust for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians in California:
Considering how much money may be at stake, it was inevitable that the increasingly nasty fight between a Santa Barbara Indian tribe and its neighbors over a big parcel of undeveloped land would attract outside interest.

Enter Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale). Last October, LaMalfa introduced a bill ordering the government to take the parcel into trust, effectively adding 1,400 acres to the reservation of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians. That would place a tract once envisioned as the site of a big resort beyond the taxing power or land-use regulations of the county.

It's not unusual for members of Congress to introduce special bills for their friends and constituents. But the Chumash reservation is 500 miles from LaMalfa's district. Also, the local political representatives and the Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors oppose the transfers. And according to LaMalfa's local newspaper, the Redding Searchlight, he hasn't provided similar help to Indians among his own constituents.

LaMalfa's spokesman, Kevin Eastman, says LaMalfa merely wants to ensure that the Chumash tribe is "able to build homes for its members on land it purchased for that purpose, just as any American should be able to. The tribe has really gone out of its way to be a good neighbor ... but so far the county has refused to work with it."

It's actually much more complicated."

Get the Story:
Michael Hiltzik: Chumash have political backer in fight with Santa Barbara County (The Los Angeles Times 5/11)

Related Stories:
Rep. Capps opposes Chumash Tribe's land-into-trust measure (03/14)
Opinion: Chumash Tribe too wealthy to follow land-into-trust (02/03)
IBIA dismisses challenges to Chumash Tribe land consolidation (11/05)
Opinion: Far-away lawmaker introduces bill for Chumash Tribe (10/31)
Bill introduced to place 1,400 acres in trust for Chumash Tribe (10/29)
Vincent Armenta: Chumash Tribe strives to be good neighbor (10/24)

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