Editorial: County stonewalling Chumash Tribe on development

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

California newspaper calls on officials in Santa Barbara County, California, to treat the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians with respect:
Most economic powerhouses, even the newest ones, earn the respect and admiration of local governments, but so far only the city of Solvang has acknowledged the tribe’s value as a business partner. The Board of Supervisors continues to treat the tribal government as a wayward stepchild.

The county’s behavior would alienate just about anyone, but to their credit, tribal officials have mostly been level-headed about the gulf of silence. They realize that members of the board majority are concerned about their political futures. Politics and common sense aren’t often found in the same sentence, so the board’s refusal to recognize the tribe’s status is no surprise.

Rep. Lois Capps has inserted herself into the debate, saying congressional approval of such legislation would set a dangerous precedent, allowing Congress to intervene in what she describes as a local issue.

She’s correct about the Camp 4 debate being local. The point she seems to be missing is that it will be difficult to reach a compromise if the Board of Supervisors refuses to (1) acknowledge the tribe’s status as a sovereign government, and (2) won’t open talks with tribal officials.

Our guess is that, once the board agrees to recognize tribal rights, and agrees to open talks about Camp 4, a reasonable compromise can be reached. But it won’t happen if the board majority decides it’s in the best interests of local citizens to let Congress decide the fate of a local issue.

As long as tribal sovereignty is a reality, there is no logic or common sense in the county Board of Supervisors continuing to stonewall negotiations with the Chumash.

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Editorial: Talking through problems (The Lompoc Record 6/26)

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