The Cahuilla Band of Indians in Riverside County was looking for a new engine to fill out its growing fire department, so the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians stepped in to help. The Chumash donated their own used truck, valued at $130,000 and capable of holding more than 500 gallons of water.
“We recently purchased a new Type 3 engine for our fire department, so when we learned about the Cahuilla’s need for a truck, we decided to offer them ours,” said Kenneth Kahn, the Chumash’s tribal chair. “The truck still performs well and holds significant value on the resale market, but helping another tribe advance its own fire department by donating a critical vehicle felt like the right thing to do.”
The Cahuilla were grateful. “A donation like this, one that is primarily focused on the preservation of life, means so much to us right now, and in a time of emergency, it will mean the world to those it saves,” said Cahuilla Tribal Chair Daniel Salgado. “Because we are in a rural area with a large land base, we are often the first ones on the scene.” The Cahuilla Fire Department has battled a number of fires in Riverside, including the 2018 Cranston Fire that burned more than 13,000 acres. Along with the Chumash Fire Department, it has an agreement with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to respond to fires throughout the U.S. The Chumash Fire Department has six full-time employees, up to 10 seasonal employees, and two engines in its fleet. In 2017 alone, it responded to more than 100 fires in 10 states. “This donation does have deep cultural meaning to us because reciprocity is one of our core values, and we believe it is why we were able to survive and still be here today as tribes,” Salgado said.