The following article was posted on May 11th, 2016, in the Santa Maria Sun – Volume 17, Issue 10 :


The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians isn’t happy with Rep. Lois Capps’ (D-Santa Barbara) endorsement of the Chumash Marine Sanctuary on May 2.

Newly minted tribal chairman Kenneth Kahn blasted Capps in a letter sent to her on May 4.

“The Santa Ynez Band of Indians recoil in disbelief about your public display of support of the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary,” Kahn wrote.

Lois Capps’ opposition to Camp 4 is the reason behind the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Tribal Chairman Kenneth Kahn’s rebuke of her endorsement for a marine sanctuary.

Local efforts to create the marine sanctuary have been going on for the last 15 years, although the Santa Ynez Chumash haven’t taken a position until now.

Spearheaded by the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, the designation of a marine sanctuary would impose federal guidelines to manage the coastal waters from Cambria to Santa Barbara and protect them from fossil fuel exploitation.

But Kahn said this endorsement means little to the Chumash, considering Capps opposes HR 1157, the federal bill that would allow the tribe to take complete control of a nearly 1,400-acre piece of land known as Camp 4.

The bill’s author, U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa (D-Richvale), said the bill would address a housing shortage on the reservation.

The Camp 4 subject is a controversial one within the county. LaMalfa’s bill would effectively leave the county without the authority to collect taxes from the land in the future, although a fee-to-trust that would give the county some money for the land upfront is currently in the works.

The tribe has repeatedly said it needs Camp 4 because its 137-acre reservation is not enough to house 136 members and their 1,300 descendants, although some are concerned the land will be used to build more gaming facilities.

“You have repeatedly opposed the efforts of the tribe to acquire land for housing its members and their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren,” Kahn wrote. “How can you extol a marine sanctuary, the boundaries of which were stolen by military force from the Chumash people?”

In an emailed statement from C.J. Young, Capps’ press secretary, Capps said the Camp 4 matter should be resolved at the local level. She’s sided with local leaders on the issue, although negotiations between the county and the tribe were recently put on hold.

“Congresswoman Capps continues to believe that congressional interference would be inappropriate while this process is still ongoing,” Young wrote in an email.