Dear Supervisor Peter Adam,
I was disappointed to read your comments in a recent Lompoc Record article questioning the sovereign nation status of Native American tribes. It is unbelievable that such statements would be made in any context, but I am especially disappointed to see them come from an elected official. I appreciate and respect free speech and the freedoms that come with being citizens of this great nation of ours, but publically espousing such misinformed views only serve to minimize the very real and brutal history of repression that Native Americans have endured.
The ugly truth is that Native people were placed on reservations that look nothing like their original homelands. In regards to the Chumash Nation, I would remind you that their original land base spanned from Paso Robles to Malibu and inland to Bakersfield. But that is not the land they live on today. Instead, they were provided with 99 acres of land of which a large percentage was and remains a river bed.
As for the tribal sovereignty, I could not be more appalled by your statements. Long before European settlement changed the landscape into what is now this great country of ours, tribes lived on their land as sovereign nations with unique and rich histories and customs. A long body of federal statutes and case law have recognized and upheld the sovereignty powers of Native American Nations.
As the chairman of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, I stand with the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, and urge you to apologize for your hurtful remarks.
California Assemblymember Luis A. Alejo represents the 30th District (D-Watsonville) and is chair of the California Latino Legislative Caucus.