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<b>NO TALK FOR YOU:</b>  More than two years ago, the Chumash tribe’s administration ​— ​including (from left) Vincent Armenta, Richard Gomez, Sam Cohen, and Frances Snyder ​— ​requested a government-to-government dialogue with the county over Camp 4 and others issues. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors officially rejected that request, telling them to take their development ideas to the planning department like everyone else.

Cynthia Carbone Ward

NO TALK FOR YOU: More than two years ago, the Chumash tribe’s administration ​— ​including (from left) Vincent Armenta, Richard Gomez, Sam Cohen, and Frances Snyder ​— ​requested a government-to-government dialogue with the county over Camp 4 and others issues. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors officially rejected that request, telling them to take their development ideas to the planning department like everyone else.


County Denies Chumash Special Treatment

Supervisors Say Tribe Should Go to Planners to Develop Camp 4 Property


Thursday, August 22, 2013
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Fearful that any sign of cooperation may make it easier for the Chumash to expand their Santa Ynez Valley reservation ​— ​thereby taking property off the tax rolls and, more worrisome to many, out from the control of the County of Santa Barbara’s rigorous planning rules ​— ​the Board of Supervisors decided in a split 3-2 vote to deny a request to open a government-to-government dialogue with the tribe. Instead, in front of a hearing room packed mostly with critics of the tribe, the majority of supervisors directed the tribe to go through the normal planning process like any other developer.

“For me, when we talk about government-to-government, we are talking about issues specific to their sovereign status on their reservation,” said 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr, who represents the valley and has loudly opposed the ongoing attempt to annex the 1,400-acre Camp 4 property to the Chumash reservation. “They are private-property owners like many of us are in the valley when we are talking about ownership of properties not to do with the current reservation.”

County Supervisors Doreen Farr (right) and Steve Lavagnino (Aug. 20, 2013)
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Paul Wellman

County Supervisors Doreen Farr (right) and Steve Lavagnino (Aug. 20, 2013)

In opposition to the vote were Supervisors Salud Carbajal and Steve Lavagnino, who both believe that a government-to-government dialogue would be appropriate. Carbajal said he believes the federal annexation process exists as a remedy to the “many, many wrongs that have occurred in our country” to Native Americans, whereas Lavagnino believes that denying the dialogue would actually backfire, explaining, “If we send a message that we don’t want to talk to the tribe, it sends a green light to Congress that they’ve exhausted all of their remedies, and the only outlet would be a legislative fix.”

Though the agenda item wasn’t specific to Camp 4, the property ​— ​which the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians bought from actor-turned-vintner Fess Parker for $40 million in 2010 ​— ​loomed over the proceedings. Almost every single one of the dozens of public speakers mentioned Camp 4 while lodging concerns over everything from unchecked development and scarcity of water to whether the tribe could be trusted to do what they have pledged. Filing an application to annex the land via the fee-to-trust process earlier this year with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the tribe ​— ​whose members historically lived in relative poverty until opening the Chumash Casino Resort in 2004 ​— ​has repeatedly said it intends to build 143 homes on Camp 4, not another resort or casino. The BIA produced an environmental report on that annexation, available at ChumashEA.com, and is accepting public comments on the proposal until September 19.

The crowd gathered for the County Supervisor discussion on the Camp Four property (Aug. 20, 2013)
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

The crowd gathered for the County Supervisor discussion on the Camp Four property (Aug. 20, 2013)

For the Chumash, Tuesday’s discussion was about more than Camp 4. “I believe that it’s time that Santa Barbara County step up to the plate, recognize the tribe as a government, and have those dialogues,” said Tribal Chairman Vincent Armenta, explaining that tribes have such relationships with jurisdictions across the country. “It would eliminate a lot of the confusion that’s going on.” Part of that confusion involves the 11,500-acre “Tribal Consolidation Area” (TCA) that the BIA approved on behalf of the Chumash as part of the ongoing application. Armenta suggested that, had the county already started the desired dialogue, the supervisors would have learned about that prior to this week.

News of the TCA shocked residents, as it encompasses a large part of the Santa Ynez Valley and is seen as an end-run around the usual hurdles for an “off-reservation” annexation, which is harder than taking over adjacent lands. The TCA designation also triggered a closed session prior to Tuesday’s hearing, with the supervisors directing staff to investigate what can be done to oppose that move, including whether litigation would be appropriate. Chumash critics were also dismayed to learn that the tribe had lobbyists in Sacramento last week, trying to obtain signatures in support of the Camp 4 annexation.

Longtime environmental activist Susan Jordan, who is taking a stand against the Camp 4 annexation because she fears it is an unparalleled proposal, was “thrilled” by the decision. “This is not about not talking ​— ​this is about having the right conversation between the right entities,” said Jordan. “What happens here will set a precedent statewide. That can’t be ignored anymore.”

The Chumash, however, were dismayed that their more than two-year-old attempt to open equal discussions with the county was denied. “Unless we have some sort of cooperative or intergovernmental agreement, the process moves forward without any participation by the county,” said the tribe’s government affairs liaison Sam Cohen after the decision. “They opted out of the process.”

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news of "the 11,500-acre “Tribal Consolidation Area” (TCA) that the BIA approved on behalf of the Chumash as part of the ongoing application[.]" REALLY does shed light on the Tribe's true intentions.
The lame BS about wanting to build homes on the bucolic 1,390 acre Camp 4 property now stands as an indictment of Sam Cohen and the tribal administration's honesty. As I wrote under Kettmann's Aug. 15 article, Armenta & Cohen are simply businessmen with the Tribe as a for-profit corporation and have every right to fight to get ahead. Yet they spoke intentional falsehoods: they want Gainey and another several thousand acres for their business plans, NOT just 1390 acres to house needy tribe members. They also have no plan to share their new wealth with the coastal band or other descendants.
We can't go back to chiding them for not acting like the "noble savage" [stereotype], and hoping they'd simply care for the land and protect it from western entrepreneurs and developers: No, they ARE the developers, and they won't be holding vision quests or ceremonies all over these 11,000 acres. There is very ample space for these rituals in the nearby 200,000+ acres of federally protected San Rafael Wilderness (& another 60,000 in the Dick Smith Wilderness).
The tribal members should study how maladroit and avaricious their tribal leaders have become. I support the Tribe and want them and their lineages to have money in this society. Fee-to-Transfer is NOT desirable in many ways, and hurray for SB County & Sup. Farr for refusing to play into their hands. Shame on Salud and Lavag. for dealing with them and wanting the open parley.
Remember, Armenta has said several times that the Tribe would go the Congressional route in any case. Line up at the Planning Dept. window, Mr. Armenta, and you can develop your tribal properties under the same restrictions as others.
Oops, the viticulture and wineries development seems to rush along... several posters have stated they get preferred treatment. Aren't the wineries also diminishing the Valley's original rustic and bucolic atmosphere??

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 22, 2013 at 7:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Greed is and always will be the bane of human existence.

howgreenwasmyvalley (anonymous profile)
August 22, 2013 at 9:32 a.m. (Suggest removal)

" Chumash critics were also dismayed to learn that the tribe had lobbyists in Sacramento last week, trying to obtain signatures in support of the Camp 4 annexation." Yes, that is very concerning, dismaying.

What is Das Williams's position -- did he sign the lobbyists' paper? He certainly seemed to be in the pocket of the Santa Ynez Chumash, doing their beck and call at the infomercial meeting last spring.

at_large (anonymous profile)
August 22, 2013 at 2:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yes, WHERE ARE YOU ON THIS DAS, speak out O people's Representative! Not hearin' ya?! Silence indicates much.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 22, 2013 at 2:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Excellent posts DrDan.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
August 22, 2013 at 3 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It's always a fight for resources. This is why the federal government only recognizes 126 people as tribal members when there are thousands in the area.

equala (anonymous profile)
August 22, 2013 at 3:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"Yes, WHERE ARE YOU ON THIS DAS, speak out O people's Representative! Not hearin' ya?! Silence indicates much."

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 22, 2013 at 2:48 p.m

So what you are saying is Das is staying neutral on this issue, like the definite article of the German language "das".

billclausen (anonymous profile)
August 22, 2013 at 3:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Now is the time for Federal recognition of the other Chumash bands.

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
August 22, 2013 at 3:31 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Sam Cohen looks like he is saying "hey, throw that guy outta here".

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
August 22, 2013 at 3:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"This is why the federal government only recognizes 126 people as tribal members when there are thousands in the area."

The Federal Government isn't who is limiting the rolls; it is the current members who decide if others can share in the gambling profits. The tribe has decided they prefer getting $50,000 a month each rather than sharing with the other thousands of Chumash descendants in California. I know a few card carrying Chumash who would be happy to put their DNA up against anyone who gets a Chumash Casino stipend. The 'information age' will be seen by historians as an era of the big hoax.

karenjones (anonymous profile)
August 22, 2013 at 6:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

As a resident of Solvang who reads the local news, I find it interesting that Armenta and his acolytes are always quick to write op-ed pieces letting the readers know of their financial donations. You can read into that what you want, but their constant self-promoting makes them look as though they are trying to buy their reputation.

The best source for this is http://syvnews.com/

I don't know if they have any op-ed pieces this week.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
August 22, 2013 at 11:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Mr. Armenta and the rest do not represent the Chumash as a whole, Most of those tribal band members would show a closer relation To Manny Pacquiao, then to an actual Native American, Want to shut people up take a DNA test silence the others forever......As for development of Camp 4, without a doubt it would be developed and will be developed, Santa Barbara County is not setting a presidence for the State nor the Nation, What the County did do is set themselves up for a long road of Litigation of which in the end you will lose , Sad but true, that tribe and any other has more power then any municipality not to mention the full legal support of B.I.A for you idiot's in the valley that means' Federal Gov't, You think the county is broke now, Just wait, You may have caused a set back but I promise it will bite you in the Rear, Mrs. Farr when all is said and done Armenta and his cronies will still be there Camp $ will be a beautiful Resort with World Renowned golfing, and you will all be reaping the rewards of the added tourism Dollars, And you Mrs Farr will but left holding the Bag for being so out spoken.......But you stood up for what you believed in, however with your political Career on the line you should have not been so incompetent and researched more of how Tribal Gov't works and what in fact Federal Recognition is all about...

Truelocal (anonymous profile)
August 23, 2013 at 3:23 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Wow Truelocal, "Most of those tribal band members would show a closer relation To Manny Pacquiao, then to an actual Native American". That is a hell of a generalization and racial stereotype...
Big money attempts to control and manipulate things whether under the guise of "poor mistreated Native Americans" or "greedy white developer".

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
August 23, 2013 at 8 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Certain federally-recognized Indian tribes are "sovereign nations", having specified rights over their lands, as do other sovereign nations. We all know that. But that does not mean freedom from others' rules and regulations.

Say, for instance, Canada bought some land in Maine or up-state New York and wanted to provide housing or use it for whatever legal purposes. It would have to be obey the laws of Maine or New York. Say, for instance, the sovereign nation of Mexico decided to buy some land in Texas or Arizona or New Mexico, land that once had been part of Mexico; the sovereign state of Mexico would have to obey the relevant state land use laws for development. The purchased land would not be incorporated into Mexico, subjected to its land use laws.

What is the difference for the tiny Chumash Nation buying the much larger than its reservation, Camp 4?

The entire fee-to-trust needs to be looked at on the national level and evaluated in the light of the 21st century. Everything that's in the pipeline now needs to be held in abeyance for this reevaluation.

at_large (anonymous profile)
August 23, 2013 at 8:25 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Sounds as if they may move their needs to the State of California with a little stipend to seal the deal; just my take on it but don't be too surprised if they do.

dou4now (anonymous profile)
August 23, 2013 at 8:28 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The television show, "Who do you think you are" brings many revelations about the history of the person being profiled.

I vote DNA tests for all and the sharing of all profits with all Chumash Descendants, DNA test mandatory , not just a select few that played the BIA game.

A series of interesting articles, LA Times, and subsequent book written by a white dentist in Orange County, CA traced his ancestry back to an African born slave that became a freeman in the Colonial South.

We are all Heinz 57.

County Zoning for All.

howgreenwasmyvalley (anonymous profile)
August 23, 2013 at 12:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

good, and yet there should be NO Co. Zoning in the Tribe's 130 Reservation acres; we do have to honor the U.S. Government's 1901 (think McKinley was Pres., but he was assassinated that year so it might be TR) treaty agreement with the indigenous pre-existing sovereign nation [with limits], the Santa Ynez Band of the Chumash.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 23, 2013 at 4:35 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I wonder why they think they are special?

zuma7 (anonymous profile)
August 23, 2013 at 8:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

They are clans of human beings whose direct ancestors lived here for some thousands of years prior to the European colonization of western USA; they have a unique government-to-government legal status with the USA; that's all rather special.
What do you really mean by "special", zuma7? I've read your other posts so I get your insinuation, and I do not agree.
The indigenous peoples of all areas and regions on the earth are special, no? We can learn from them, and I don't mean idolize or set up too high, they were and are human bands, they hassle and sometimes do good and then bad things.... I enjoy driving out to SYValley on the lovely Chumash Highway (154), and without doubt my hiking buddies and I are roaming out on their sacred lands (e.g. San Rafael Wilderness etc.) far more than 90% of the tribal members. When they act as protectors of these wonderful lands, then they truly are special. When some of them just want to commercially develop areas I see them simply as another corporation, hence hoping they build HOMES on the 1390 acres but don't get fee-to-Trust.
The slow genocide by the pioneers was an evil thing, and these survivors deserve our respect and mindfulness. Just sayin'

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 24, 2013 at 6:45 a.m. (Suggest removal)

They aren't "survivors" Dan. They're descendants. I hope you can see the difference. They were born with a silver spoon (a legal casino) in their mouths. Should that give them the ability to ride roughshod over anyone that gets in their way? I think not.

Yes, we committed atrocities against Indians in the past as we have against African Americans. But it shows no logic to provide special benefits to those that never experienced these atrocities. Unless it's just that you want to relieve ourselves (as a race) from the sins of our ancestors.

Botany (anonymous profile)
August 24, 2013 at 7:16 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"Say, for instance, the sovereign nation of Mexico decided to buy some land in Texas or Arizona or New Mexico, land that once had been part of Mexico; the sovereign state of Mexico would have to obey the relevant state land use laws for development."
-- at_large

I believe that's a flawed analogy because merely purchasing a piece of land, regardless of who the purchaser is, is not the same as fee-to-trust (which was established by Congress and has been litigated in Federal courts with mostly, but not 100%, one-sided results).

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
August 24, 2013 at 9:55 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Its about time the Indians have to answer to the same rules and regulations we do, especially in this case where their nation is annexing previously unsovergn property.

Its like a divorced spouse....she's given a few years of alimony to get her act together....it's not supposed to be a handout....either she does, or she doesn't but either way, the dole stops after a few years.

So should it be here...in this case the Indians have had GENERATIONS to do just that...they've largely done it, and now it is time for them to behave like citizens

thomas592003 (anonymous profile)
August 25, 2013 at 8:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

There's only 126 Indians who get the stipend...and thousands of other relatives? what's with THAT?????

I think a few more Indians should poke their noses under the Wigwam...

thomas592003 (anonymous profile)
August 25, 2013 at 8:11 a.m. (Suggest removal)

they are descendants of those few who "survived" the encounter with Spanish "missionaries", Botany. It's completely FALSE to state "They were born with a silver spoon (a legal casino) in their mouths." -- check your history, O landlord. The first Chumash casino was a tiny operation in 1994 [that's 19 years ago], and only grew large in 2003 (190,000 sq ft).
I am no fan of the Chumash Casino, and oppose fee-to-Trust, but your comment Botany and the gross comments of thomas59... reflect ignorance and racism.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 25, 2013 at 11:42 a.m. (Suggest removal)

OK, Dan. About 1/3 were born with a silver spoon in their mouths, the others were handed it by the federal government. And you say that you are no fan of the casino, but if it weren't for the casino, we'd never be having this discussion. And your narrow-minded insults and accusations of racism have no merit.

Having different rules for people based on their race meets the definition of racism, wouldn't you say?

Botany (anonymous profile)
August 25, 2013 at 3:27 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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