House Passes Santa Ynez Chumash Bill H.R. 1491
Source: The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians
The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1491, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Land Affirmation Act of 2017, on Tuesday to send the bill regarding the tribe’s housing needs to the U.S. Senate.
The legislation ratifies the decision made by the Secretary of the Interior on January 19, 2017, to place approximately 1,400 acres of land, known locally as Camp 4, into trust for the benefit of the tribe.
The bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), was passed among legislation considered under suspension of the rules, a procedure that is used to pass noncontroversial bills through the House of Representatives. It now moves to the U.S. Senate for approval.
“Camp 4 is about tribal housing on tribal land, it’s about preserving our Chumash Culture, and it’s about bringing tribal members home,” said Tribal Chairman Kenneth Kahn. “We are pleased that H.R. 1491 continues to move forward and we look forward to the day that it becomes law.”
On March 14, H.R. 1491 was introduced by LaMalfa, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs. It unanimously passed the House Natural Resources Committee on July 25 and allowed the bill to be considered by a floor vote of the entire House of Representatives on Tuesday.
Since purchasing the property in 2010, the Chumash tribe has sought to place the land in trust so that it can build housing for its membership. In December 2014, the Pacific Region Director for the Bureau of Indian Affairs approved an application by the tribe to accept title to the Camp 4 property in trust.
The bill was aided by a recent amendment that proclaimed a signed memorandum of agreement between the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and the County of Santa Barbara regarding the Camp 4 land. The tribe’s membership approved the agreement and the county Board of Supervisors followed suit with a 4-1 vote on Oct. 31. As part of the agreement, Santa Barbara County pledged to support H.R. 1491 and drop its federal lawsuit.
U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA), the former Santa Barbara County Supervisor, submitted a statement of support into the official record prior to the vote on H.R. 1491.
“I believe that the locally negotiated agreement concerning Camp 4 between the Tribe and the County, which is incorporated in today’s amended version of H.R. 1491, is in the best interest of my constituents, and is an important step toward establishing a long-term collaborative relationship between all the parties involved,” Carbajal said.
The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians owns and operates the Chumash Casino Resort, which is located on the tribe’s reservation on Highway 246 in Santa Ynez, California. The tribe also owns Hotel Corque, Root 246 and the Hadsten House in Solvang and two gas stations in Santa Ynez. As the largest employer in the Santa Ynez Valley, the tribe employs more than 1,800 residents of Santa Barbara County.