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Federal Board Dismisses Anti-Chumash Appeal

POLO and Other Groups Oppose Tribe’s Attempt to Bring Land into Reservation


Wednesday, March 27, 2013
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Citing a technicality, the Interior Board of Indian Appeals dismissed an appeal from several groups that oppose the Chumash bringing a 6.9-acre piece of land into their reservation. The decision applies to an appeal filed last year which questioned the authority of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in the matter. There are still other pending appeals in the complex process from 2005 that challenge the BIA’s decision to allow the land into the reservation.

The Chumash have hoped for 12 years to build a museum and cultural center on part of the 6.9-acre property but have faced opposition at every turn. They are now dealing with more blowback as they try to bring another 1,400 acres into their reservation, which would take the land out of the hands of local officials and off the county’s property tax rolls.

In a statement, the president of the POLO (Preservation of Los Olivos) board said the decision was not surprising and “extremely frustrating.” “The time that it has taken for decision making in this case has been determined by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Interior Board of Indian Appeals,” said Kathy Cleary in a statement. “It has been 8 long years since we filed our appeal in 2005 and we still have no decision. It continues.” POLO is one of four groups opposing the Chumash. In the statement, Cleary said POLO officials believe the order was wrong, and all of the appeals were filed correctly.

“For as much noise as these tribal opponent groups make fighting the tribe on virtually everything, it was surprising that they couldn’t even manage to follow simple instructions in filing an appeal,” said Sam Cohen, government and legal specialist for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.

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I remember the Chumash reservation in the 1960's,,, no one cared how poorly these people lived. Now they have money and legal representation, and anti-Chumash groups yell and scream. I personally am tired of grapes and wine tasting. As for Casinos,,, put up some Neon signs,,, a nice Chumash Museum,, a Culture center,, and tell the Chumash haters,,, to learn to live with their neighbors.

oldtimer (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2013 at 6:43 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Oldtimer: I DO find it ironic that those who complain about the effects the casino has had on the Valley (and I admit, I'm one of them) more often than not have no problem with the booze industry rolling in and taking over the Valley.

Booze, drugs, gambling...all interchangeable.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2013 at 7:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I glad someone sees what all kinds of vice does to a beautiful valley. I liked the old days when cattle roamed the hills, the only gambling was a local poker game, and wine came from France. I looked at the POLO website, they won't even put their names behind their anti-Chumash views. So let the Chumash push these no name locals around a little. They get fat on wine,, and the Chumash get fat on gambling. Everyone loses in the long run!

oldtimer (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2013 at 9:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

For those of you who weren't around the valley in the 1960's,,, let me tell you what it was like. When I drove from Santa Barbara I could count the cars I passed on one hand. Sometimes there were none
.The Airport had a bunch of 1958 Chevys for rent .Anderson's Split Pea was the main attraction. I would sometimes hunt deer on the reservation and was never harassed or yelled at. Sometimes a Chumash man would help me load the deer and I would give him $5 or $10. Everyone was friendly. Ranchers gave permission to hunt. No grapes, no casinos, no tourists, no movie stars, just the nicest part of California I can remember.

oldtimer (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2013 at 10:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

(Part one of two) Oldtimer: What a relief for me to see someone who's not sucked in by political ideology, and who gets the Big Picture.

I couldn't help but to see the irony in you mentioning the number of cars you passed because when I drive to work in Santa Barbara from Solvang on the 154, I cruise along at the posted speed limit of 55 and usually pass no one, but I'd say about 20-30 vehicles pass me--and sometimes so fast I can practically feel the air pockets created as they frantically fly into the fast line and compete with each other like dogs fighting over scraps of food.

When my family and I moved to the Valley in 2005, I foolishly thought I was moving to a more laid back lifestyle with the ennui of small-town living. I figured trading in the immediate coastal access as well as temperate summer days was worth leaving being the L.A.-North scene of S.B. No right or wrong there--as they say "to each his own" but our preference was for a slower way of life.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 28, 2013 at 5:11 a.m. (Suggest removal)

(Part two of three)
2008: I hear about a woman named Shelley Lane who was spearheading a group of locals who were growing concerned about the rapid growth of the wine bars in Los Olivos. I contacted her and said "count me in". I saw in her--as well as the Santa Ynez Valley Association--a groups of reasonable folks who were *truly* trying to preserve the way of life in the Valley. While I made it clear I don't agree with a lot of their overall politics (I lean more Libertarian) I shared their concern; after all, I've seen this game before--in Santa Barbara.

My letters to the editor as well as to the Mayor of Solvang and the city council there (the town in which I live) achieved nothing. The political situation up here is articulated best by Mayor Richardson when he said "who among us is wise enough to craft an ordinance" (per the wine bars) while he openly opposed casino expansion. Huh?...
Grand Avenue in Los Olivos was a bastion of art galleries a few years ago, I did not see one art gallery tonight when I went through there but one wine bar/tasting room after another. Seeing the potential for higher rents the landlords jacked up the prices--the rent for the well-known Judith Hale art gallery was $5000 monthly and went up in one fell swoop to $10,000--and of course, put her out of business. Of course, the cloistered coterie of businesspeople and politicians who run the show benefit, and pass the collateral damage onto those who live in the area with loud drunks, and a reduction of public safety. Same deal in Solvang and throughout the Valley, while Mayor Richardson--of whom I was an ardent supporter when I moved here--says "let he free market decide" (or words to that effect).

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 28, 2013 at 5:15 a.m. (Suggest removal)

(part three of three)
So here we have a place that was once self-sufficient, laid-back, and whose residents went about their business earning the livings and living their lives now becoming choked with traffic during the day, with businesses forced out by greedy landlords, and people driving to and fro under the influence. Of course it isn't just the wine crowd, the Casino *is* worthy of the disapproval POLO hurls toward it--even if their morality is selective. The local paper (The Santa Ynez Valley News) is a Bully Pulpit for the Casino's leaders as they make sure to let everybody know about their financial contributions to the Valley. (So much for altruism) The Casino also wanted to expand their liquor license. (I guess the many millions of $$$ isn't quite enough and of course, with such a shortage of places to drink in the Valley...) and the police blotter is resumé of criminal activity at the Casino.

What I don't understand is why couldn't the Feds have given the tribe a 5-star hotel and restaurant and maybe even some other businesses? Why does it always come down to gambling? (I don't want to get into whether the Chumash or any other tribe should or shouldn't get these benefits, nor am I wanting to get into the DNA arguments about who is or isn't a Chumash) The goal of giving them financial grounding and self-sufficiency could have happened without throwing the Valley under the train. (Not to mention the various Casino spokespeople feeling the need to justify their business with their weekly op-ed pieces to the paper)

Nonetheless, when all is said and done, the Valley is not run for the people who live there, but for tourists, and also with the main drawing cards of booze and gambling.

While my financial situation necessitates that I have to sell my parents' house and leave the Valley, and the death of my parents has been incredibly painful, I feel strangely blessed because seeing such a beautiful place being run into the ground by superficial profiteers is something that I'd rather not take part in, so to Mayor Richardson, POLO, Vince Armenta, and the other high-rollers running the place, all I can say is "good luck" but don't complain about the crime, traffic, and to use a Jimmy Carter-ism "malaise" that will come as the result of failing to realize how good life was before short-sighted greed paved Paradise and put in a parking lot.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 28, 2013 at 5:16 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Well said Bill,,, to think that gambling and grapes could ruin a wonderful place like Santa Ynez. Project life in the Valley another 50 years and think of what will be. You can call it " historic" , you can build another museum , but I could see years ago it was time to move on. So I did!! California as I new it is gone forever. I used to be invited to the RV ride every year.? That too is a thing of the past, just a lot of rich drunks playing cowboy! It gone Bill,,, long gone,, and it will never return! Sad,,,

oldtimer (anonymous profile)
March 28, 2013 at 9:26 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"the Valley is not run for the people who live there" Santa Barbara isn't either. The whole area has been taken over by wannabe aristocrats and vampirical business entities.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 28, 2013 at 12:08 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Needless to say, when the elections were held last November, I didn't vote in any of the local races. Why participate when none of the people represent the interests of the average person that lives here? Indicative of how bad it is is the fact that Mayor Richardson ran unopposed.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 28, 2013 at 3:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I sincerely think you should run, you may not win right off but you'd def build strong support over time BC. In the end, even if you lose at least you could push real issues and ideas into the forefront.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 28, 2013 at 3:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

And the Grapes of Wrath,,, just keep growing!!!

oldtimer (anonymous profile)
March 28, 2013 at 9:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Thank you for the kind words Ken, but I think even a Lake Cachuma full of bleach and detergent couldn't clean the unwashed masses.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 28, 2013 at 10:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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