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.