Editorial: County must treat Chumash Tribe as a good neighbor

A view of the Chumash Tribe's land-into-trust site in Santa Barbara County, California. Photo from Chumash EA

California newspaper calls on Santa Barbara County to improve its relationship with the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians:
The litany of litigation that began years ago is unlikely to stop there. There is a burr under the saddle of many of the tribe’s neighbors, a constant reminder of the actual definition of sovereignty, and how it gives the Chumash certain rights to do as they please with their own land.

The Valley squabble has expanded into county government, with a majority of the supervisors generally taking sides with those who oppose the tribe’s plans, now and in the future. Attempts to mitigate the hostilities with actual face-to-face negotiations — or even civil conversation — have failed, miserably.

One reason is that both sides are being stubborn about reconciliation. The county apparently feels obligated to stress its own self-importance when it comes to land-use concepts and rules, while tribal officials apparently feel compelled to fall back on the sovereignty angle, refusing to cede any authority to the other sovereign entity.

It’s a classic standoff, one that shows no signs of breaking anytime soon — and one that is doing very little in the way of good for the general population of the Santa Ynez Valley.

Our belief now and in recent years is that the tribe would be willing to play the county’s game — at least to a certain extent — if the county would fully acknowledge the tribe’s status with regard to sovereignty, and all that concept implies.

We also believe the fact that the Chumash have morphed from among the poorest citizens of the Valley to some of the wealthiest, and in a relatively short period of time, simply rubs some neighbors the wrong way.

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Editorial: Talking to break impasse (The Lompoc Record 7/10)

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