Hoeven Opening Statement at Legislative Hearing on California Tribal Land Bills

Apr 27, 2018

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, today convened a committee legislative hearing to receive testimony on two bills to take land into trust in California. These include:

  • H.R. 597, a bill to take lands in Sonoma County, California, into trust as part of the reservation of the Lytton Rancheria of California, and for other purposes; and
  • H.R. 1491, a bill to reaffirm the action of the Secretary of the Interior to take land into trust for the benefit of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians, and for other purposes.

The committee heard testimony from Darryl LaCounte, acting deputy bureau director of the Office of Trust Services at the Bureau of Indian Affairs; Kenneth Kahn, chairman of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians; Marjie Mejia, chairperson of the Lytton Rancheria of California; Mike Healy, councilmember for the City of Petaluma; and William “Bill” Krauch, chair of the Santa Ynez Valley Coalition.

Senator Hoeven’s full remarks:

“Good afternoon. I call this hearing to order.

“Today the committee will examine two bills:

“H.R. 597, a bill to take lands in Sonoma County, California, into trust as part of the reservation of the Lytton Rancheria of California, and for other purposes; and

“H.R. 1491, a bill to reaffirm the action of the Secretary of the Interior to take land into trust for the benefit of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians, and for other purposes.

“On January 20, 2017, Representative Denham introduced H.R. 597, the Lytton Rancheria Homelands Act of 2017.

“The bill passed the House of Representatives on July 11, 2017 and was received by the Senate on July 12, 2017.

“H.R. 597 would take 511 acres of land owned by the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians of California into trust for the benefit of the tribe.

“The Lytton Rancheria have spent years negotiating with the local county of Sonoma to form and approve a memorandum of agreement that would mitigate any potential off-reservation impacts from the land being moved into trust.

“The land, once in trust, would assist the tribe in further developing their economy and provide for additional housing.

“On March 10, 2017, Representative LaMalfa introduced H.R. 1491, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Land Affirmation Act of 2017.

“The bill passed the House of Representatives on November 28, 2017 and was received by the Senate on November 29, 2017.

“H.R. 1491 would reaffirm the Secretary of the Interior’s decision to place 1,427.28 acres of California land in trust for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, resolving years of litigation regarding the Secretary’s decision.

“After negotiating over the county’s concerns, the Tribe and the local county of Santa Barbara have also entered into an effective memorandum of agreement. This MOA provides for the mitigation of potential impacts once the land is in trust.

“On January 18th, 2018, Senators Feinstein and Harris requested this committee hold a legislative hearing on these two California tribal bills. I look forward to hearing the feedback from our witnesses on both of these pieces of legislation.”

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