"Two congressional bills – one passed in 1919 and the other in 1932 – granted the city of San Diego certain lands within the Cleveland National Forest and the Capitan Grande Indian Reservation for a reservoir and water storage system. Between the two bills, nearly 2,900 acres of the Capitan Grande Indian Reservation was taken over by the city and most of it flooded by waters from the San Diego River for the Capitan Grande Dam and reservoir system.
The hearing transcripts are both fascinating and maddening, particularly the 1918 testimony of Mr. Cato Sells, who was then U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs
A hearing on the first bill was held in 1918 before the House Committee on Public Lands. During the hearing, Mr. Sells testified in favor of H.R. 4037 to grant a right of way to the city of San Diego “for reservoir purposes, contingent upon payment to the Indians of adequate compensation for the rights sought.” At the urging of Congressman Taylor of California, the easement or “rights of way” language was evidently revised to a grant of the Kumeyaay (at that time called “Mission Indian”) reservation lands to the city of San Diego.
Although the BIA had initially expressed some opposition to the proposed dam project because of the negative effect it would have on the Indians, Sells had no such qualms. During his testimony, Sells displayed a remarkable knack for doublespeak."
Get the Story:
Steven Newcomb: The moral stain of the Capitan Grande Indian removal
(Indian Country Today 9/24)