Chairman Tahj Gomes of the Ruffey Rancheria. Photo: Ruffey Rancheria

Tahj Gomes: Ruffey Rancheria seeks to correct 'historical injustice'

With lawmakers set to advance a controversial bill to restore federal recognition to the Ruffey Rancheria at a markup session on Capitol Hill, Chairman Tahj Gomes explains why his tribe is asking Congress for help:
In 1907, the Department of the Interior purchased land for a group of 57 landless Indians who were living near the town of Etna in Siskiyou County. The tribe became known as Ruffey Rancheria after its namesake tribal elder, Old Man Ruffey, and maintained a relationship with the federal government that lasted for more than a half-century.

In the 1950s, Congress pursued policies intended to end the legal existence of California’s Indian tribes. Ruffey Rancheria was one of more than 40 Indian rancherias that suffered this fate when in 1961, its 441-acre reservation was distributed to just four members who supported termination and ignored others, violating their due process rights to be consulted regarding termination.

Based on these and other unfair practices, members of many terminated California Indian tribes sued the federal government in 1983 and ultimately prevailed in a class-action lawsuit. Ruffey Rancheria was among a few tribes not eligible for the class action due to legal technicalities. It is one of the last that has not been restored to federally recognized status.

Because Congress terminated the tribe, only Congress can reinstate it.

Read More on the Story:
Tahj Gomes: How Congress can correct a historical injustice to Ruffey Rancheria (The Sacramento Bee May 7, 2018)

House Committee on Natural Resources Markup:
Full Committee Markup (May 8, 2018)

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