A view of the Lytton Rancheria's land-into-trust site in Sonoma County, California. Photo: Lytton Residential Development Environmental Assessment

Lytton Band moves closer to success with tribal homelands legislation

The Lytton Band of Pomo Indians is getting closer to securing a permanent homeland for its people in northern California.

H.R.597, the Lytton Rancheria Homelands Act, is due to be advanced at a Senate Committee on Indian Affairs business meeting on Wednesday. The bill places about 511 acres in trust for the tribe, whose original reservation was lost some 60 years ago under the federal government's disastrous termination policy.

"Having a permanent homeland for our people provides a continuity for the tribal government and for taking care of our members," Chairwoman Margie Mejia told the committee during a hearing on the bill in April. "Indian people think seven generations ahead so having this land enables the tribal government to plan for the future of its members."

Indianz.Com on SoundCloud: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs - Legislative Hearing to receive testimony on the following bills: H.R. 597 & H.R. 1491 - April 25, 2018

H.R.597 already passed the House so action at the committee level means it can be considered by the full Senate. The Trump administration has expressed support for the measure, which would resolve a land-into-application that has been pending at the Bureau of Indian Affairs for nearly a decade.

"We support the Congressional goals embodied in H.R.597," Darryl LaCounte, a senior BIA official who is serving as the "acting" director of the agency, told the committee on April 25.

If enacted into law, the bill would ratify an agreement between the tribe and the county that addresses land use, environmental protection and other issues. It includes a one-time payment of more than $6 million.

“The Lytton Rancheria have spent years negotiating with the local county of Sonoma to form and approve a memorandum of agreement that would mitigate any potential off-reservation impacts from the land being moved into trust," said Sen. John Hoeven (R-North Dakota), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. “The land, once in trust, would assist the tribe in further developing their economy and provide for additional housing."

Additionally, the bill includes a permanent prohibition on gaming for the 511-acre parcel. And future trust land acquisitions will be subject to gaming restrictions if H.R.597 becomes law.

The business meeting takes place at 2:30pm Eastern on Wednesday in Room 628 of the Senate Dirksen Office Building. It will be immediately followed by a legislative hearing on S.2599, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Reservation Restoration Act.

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Notice:
Business Meeting to consider H.R. 597, the Lytton Rancheria Homelands Act of 2017 (July 11, 2018)

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