Archive » July 19, 2012
By SYVJ Staff
Open letter to the SB County Board of SupervisorsRegarding: Document Scope Specifically: Board Meeting of July 10 regarding ‘fee-to-trust’ decision of the BIA in favor of the Chumash Tribe. Generally: Chumash Tribal Expansion Preface: First Page One point of clarity Two points of reason FIRST: Clarity I – Regardless of what tribal leaders and their lawyers say this 6.9 acre fee-to-trust conflict is NOT about – beads, bowls and baskets being displayed in a new Chumash Cultural Center. This conflict is entirely about self-serving ‘Tribal Super Sovereign Nation’ expansion: 1) Expansion of wealth, 2) Expansion of political reach and influence, and 3) Expansion of its ability to dominate and influence activities in our Santa Ynez Valley...and, selectively, nurture influence over chosen governmental agencies.
SECOND: Point I – If tribal leadership actually wanted to embrace, share and grow mutual interests and resources within our community, they ought to take a lesson from the chief executive of the Oneida Nation Tribe Enterprises, of New York. This nation wants to show, and share, with their children and the community, how they were an important part of American history, the American Revolution. They are proud of the fact that they helped and supported George Washington and his army (note how the tribe is promoting sameness, not divisiveness). The tribe has chosen to initially give $10 million toward the construction of a museum about the American Revolution.
Perhaps the Chumash could take a fundamental lesson here. Certainly the “Chumash All American George Washington Highway” would be less “antagonistic” than current signs on the 154 Highway. Also, I posit that a center for United States Constitutional and Democratic Studies (at the UCSB Sedgwick Reserve?) would be much better received than a self-serving Beads, Bowls and Baskets Museum designed to ensnare customers and then deceptively attempt to legitimize the Casino Gaming Enterprise. Parents of impressionable grade school (and high school) children should be concerned about this disingenuous level of marketing where the sales target is actually for the Casino Gaming Enterprise, and not ‘so much’ about Chumash culture and history.
THIRD: Point II – Again, if tribal leadership actually wants an affiliate community partnership in the Santa Ynez Valley, they need to be more than a “Federally Recognized Tribe.” They need to be a Santa Ynez Valley-recognized tribe. That means that they need to show the community that their membership truly does represent Chumash heritage – both genetically (mtDNA, Ychrom, etc.), and as dedicated social tribal members (as opposed to casual business members). This would require transparency and honest openness, as to how some aspects of tribal governance, and law, actually functions.
In our opinion
We feel compelled to issue this letter that reflects our deep concern about “why” the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors exhibited such woeful preparation, attitude, behavior and etiquette during a recent meeting. We refer to the docket item of whether or not Santa Barbara County should appeal the BIA decision to allow the Chumash to take 6.9 acres into trust. The board’s politesse was undoubtedly premeditated with the intent to conciliate and mollify the predictable diatribes of the Chumash speakers. The problem is that you, our representative governmental body, went too far with politeness, and not far enough with matter-of-fact due diligence, and thus easily succumbed to the Bullying tactics of the tribal chairman and his followers. You allowed the chairman to promote himself into a position where he secured the mantle of a “dominant political power’” (of course, he was playing to his Super Sovereign Nation followers). You, our County Board of Supervisors (seeking to be politically correct) then played to his ego by giving him the green flag (no comments made about acceptable decorum) to make more emotional power-play statements such as – “I am disappointed that a hearing even needed to be held” or “How dare you question my grandparents? How dare you! I am embarrassed to come up here and fend for who I am, who my parents are.” As if these drama club enactments weren’t bad enough, other focused epithets were delivered time and again against Supervisor Farr. It was disturbing that no one on the board sought to defend one of their own, given the vituperative nature of the attacks.
Progressively, the events of the morning meeting all culminated into an afternoon specter of how well the emotional presentations of the Chumash tribe had worked. The board, however, was utterly complicit in this victory because it abrogated its responsibility to provide in-depth research to the community (and themselves) as to social, political and economic impacts of the fee-to-trust process. You, the board, did not offer any information as to what negative-positive impacts occurred in other communities when the fee-to-trust mechanism was invoked. The board failed to assess the likelihood-probability of future litigation with the Chumash tribe (ex. water rights) and the resultant high financial and emotional cost (divisiveness) to our community. The board failed to stress that property taken into trust does not have any ‘sun downer’ clauses, no 99-year lease provisions; it is in perpetuity (time without end, forever). . .and the Sovereign Nation has complete authority over the use of this land, while paying zero taxes. Sadly, we would conclude that the preparation of the board was not done in a purposeful and professional manner. To the tribe’s credit they sensed this limitation, played the emotional side very well, and proceeded to get what they wanted.
For, perhaps, some of the reasons above the County Board of Supervisors seemed tentative, unwilling, or unable, to counter the emotional barrage fired off by the Chumash tribe. We can only hope that the board would take a second look at this dilemma, this time, judiciously separating emotions from facts. Also, in fairness to Supervisor Farr, she did ‘nicely’ defend herself, and then promote the motion to challenge the BIA ruling, but again...this was done with modest comportment.
You are dealing with a Gorgon that has many faces of greed. You will never satisfy this medusa of “victim-hood” greed while current attitudes prevail. What you saw at the meeting is only the beginning of coached-malevolent people (a sad product of failed, and divisive, tribal governance) justifying their closed-culture tribal wants (the Mega-Casino). Supervisors, practice due diligence, do your homework and study the politics of tribal governance in these not so...United States of America. The staged and manipulated drama to justify unending requests for “more” will continue and grow in nature and scope, unless curbed by thoughtful and caring transformative socio-political programs. It is predictable (know and understand the Super Sovereign Nation concept) that sequential fee-to-trust requests will follow for 5.8 acres, then 10.3 acres, then 223.5 acres and then a request for 1,400 (Camp 4) acres, etc. After multiple “fee-to-trust standing” is granted new demands from the Chumash tribal leadership will then emerge that deals with (among so many other things) who has, and controls, water rights to these real estate holdings of the Super Sovereign Nation. What will predictably follow is costly (to the precipice of bankruptcy for some local government entities) legal battles regarding these “rights of control” over surface and subterranean water (upstream and downstream). There are many examples of this money-grab charade (it involves land swaps and other dubious financial manipulations); we suggest reviewing Gila Indian litigations in Arizona as a primer. Note: It is our understanding that in many instances the involved tribe(s) does not have to be bothered about litigation costs because they are being represented by lawyers who are funded with our tax dollars via the federal government.
There will always be a Tribal “bully” (or whatever) of some nature, as long as willing citizens (and their representatives) allow it. You have already seen the beginning of a very divisive and costly progression. Step up and act now, so this dilemma does not become your social and financial ‘black-hole’ legacy for future county supervisors. Now is the time to stop giving the current bully what he wants. Now is the time to instruct the bully, and his followers, that the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors are, and faithfully represent, caring people who seek social equality with the blessing of personal freedoms for everyone. What we DO NOT tolerate is avaricious greed that creates cultural divisiveness and loathing.
Santa Ynez Valley