Padilla, Butler Introduce Legislation to Preserve Jamul Tribal Land

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Alex Padilla and Laphonza Butler (both D-Calif.) introduced legislation to place approximately 172 acres of land into trust for the benefit of the Jamul Indian Village. Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.-48) is leading companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

The Jamul Tribe’s ancestral lands have diminished over time from over 640 acres to just six acres, which now comprise the Tribe’s entire trust land base, making it one of the smallest reservations in the country. In 2005, Jamul tribal members voluntarily moved off of the reservation to allow the Tribe to pursue economic development to become self-sufficient and less reliant on the federal government. In order to build a true homeland for its members, the Jamul Indian Village has purchased four parcels of land, comprising 172 acres of land in San Diego County, which it holds in fee. The Jamul Indian Village Land Transfer Act would allow the Tribe to place these lands in trust in order to bring their tribal members back to live on their reservation and develop a permanent and proper homeland.

“After years of sacrifice in their efforts to achieve self-determination, the Jamul Indian Village deserves a true homeland to preserve their sacred history and bring together generations to come,” said Senator Padilla. “I am honored to work alongside the Jamul Indian Village to enhance the Tribe’s community development and permanently safeguard their home for the benefit of their members.”

“This legislation is important and necessary to honor the Jamul Tribe’s sovereignty over their native homeland,” said Senator Butler. “Generations of tribal members stand to benefit from the economic development made possible by this bill, and I’m proud to be part of the effort ensuring the Jamul Indian Village can permanently reclaim and restore their ancestral territory.”

“This critical legislation will help bring our people back to the community that has been our home from the beginning of time.  It will also achieve the restoration and protection of our culturally significant ancestral lands,” said Erica M. Pinto, Chairwoman of the Jamul Indian Village. “By bringing the land we own into trust, Congress will help our Tribe honor our ancestors and their sacrifices.  On behalf of the Jamul Indian Village, we’d like to thank Senator Padilla for the introduction of this legislation.”  

On the largest parcel covered by the bill, the Jamul Indian Village plans to develop housing for their tribal members and to establish administrative offices, a health clinic, a child care center, educational services, a community center, law enforcement offices, and other community resources for tribal members. The other parcels contain the only physical access road to the Tribe’s reservation and the Tribe’s historical church and cemetery.

The legislation is endorsed by San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Senator Padilla is a strong advocate for restoring tribal ownership of their ancestral lands. Last year, President Biden signed into law a series of Padilla’s bills to restore tribal stewardship of sacred federal lands and ensure that our federal land management laws respect tribal sovereignty. The package included laws to take more than 2,500 acres of land in the San Jacinto Mountains into trust for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, to place roughly 1,000 acres of federal land located in Humboldt and Siskiyou counties into trust for the Karuk Tribe, and to permit the Bureau of Land Management to sell and lease certain public lands to tribes below market value if used for recreational or public purposes. The first tribal land transfer under the Bureau of Land Management program occurred recently when 88 acres of land were transferred back to Susanville Indian Rancheria. Furthermore, earlier this year, Padilla and Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) introduced similar bipartisan legislation to strengthen tribal parity for the transfer of surplus federal property to tribes if used for specified public purposes.

Full text of the bill is available is here.

A map of the parcels to be placed in trust is available here.


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