Opinion | Trust

Opinion: Wealthy tribes shouldn't follow land-into-trust process

A view of the land-into-trust site. Photo from Chumash EA

Writer argues that the land-into-trust process shouldn't benefit "wealthy" tribes like the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians in California
Supervisor Peter Adam recently brought up the issue of re-examining the Fee to Trust for Indian Tribes. It is nice to have a representative that is saying what most of the constituents in Santa Barbara County are thinking. The Federal Government established Fee to Trust to help impoverished Indians get off the welfare rolls, not to help wealthy Indians get off tax rolls. Unfortunately that process has become a financial drain on states. Our local Chumash Tribe is asking the Federal Government through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which is run by Indians, to allow them to bring the 1400 acres known as Camp 4 into Fee to Trust. The Chumash are a tribe that would classify as being in the top one-tenth of one percent of income in the entire United States, yet they want to remove this acreage from the tax rolls which places a financial burden on the rest of the tax payers in this county. This land would not be subject to any local rules, regulations or taxing if brought into Fee to Trust. The Tribe would be allowed to build anything they desired on the property without having any County oversight.

It is past time to re-examine the Fee to Trust process and stop this granting of land to tribes that do not need financial assistance. We are all citizens of the United States and we should all be treated equally. Most of the members of the Chumash are living off the reservation and have assimilated into and are part of the community where they live.

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Mike Hadley: Fee to Trust for Indian Tribes (Santa Barbara Edhat 1/24)

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