Law | Trust

Chumash Tribe asks county to enter land-into-trust agreement

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

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians is proposing a land-into-trust agreement with Santa Barbara County, California.

The agreement addresses the tribe's plans to use a portion of a 1,400-acre site for housing and a community center. It would be enforceable in court with a limited waiver of sovereign immunity, according to a summary posted by the county.

"The County of Santa Barbara recognizes the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians as an integral part of the County of Santa Barbara community," the document states.

The deal would require the tribe to compensate the county for lost property taxes at the site. In exchange, the county would drop its opposition to the tribe's application.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs already approved the application but the county is appealing. Congress is also considering H.R.1157, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians Land Transfer Act, to place the land in trust.

The tribe has long faced opposition from county officials and some within the local community. A group called Save the Valley tried to reopen a 1906 federal court decision that addressed the status of the tribe's reservation but a federal judge said the request came too late.

“Not only was this yet another frivolous lawsuit brought on by the local tribal opponents, but it stands to undermine every land title that can be traced back to the Catholic Church,”  Chairman Vincent Armenta said in a press release.

Get the Story:
Chumash Tribe, Santa Barbara County Leaders Talk Fee-to-Trust Agreement (Noozhawk 1/13)
Federal Court denies 'frivolous' motion against Chumash (The Santa Maria Sun 1/12)
Court finds in favor of Chumash on land rights, denies motion (The Lompoc Record 1/12)

An Opinion:
The Canary: Trees, bees, and sleaze (The Santa Maria Sun 1/12)

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