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Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians' Land in Trust Application Not Impacted by Supreme Court Decision

For Immediate Release


February 26, 2009

Contact: Eric Zell, Zell & Associates

(510) 414-8071 cell


Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians’ Land In Trust Application Not Impacted by Supreme Court Decision


Richmond, Calif.—  Earlier this week,  the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in the case Carcieri v. Salazar  addressing  the United States’ acquisition of land in trust for the Narragansett Tribe of Rhode Island (“Tribe”) under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.  Rhode Island challenged the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to take lands into trust for the Tribe based primarily on the argument that the Secretary lacked authority under the IRA to acquire land in trust for the Tribe. The State claimed that because the IRA granted the Secretary authority to take land in trust for tribes “now under Federal jurisdiction,” only tribes which were actually under Federal jurisdiction in 1934 could rely on the IRA as statutory authority for trust acquisitions.  Because the Tribe was not granted Federal recognition until 1983, and was admittedly not under Federal jurisdiction in 1934, the State argued that the IRA did not authorize the Secretary to acquire land in trust for the Tribe.


This opinion will have no consequence to the trust application and eventual trust acquisition of the North Richmond property for the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians, according to Chairman Don Arnold.   “Our Tribe was “under Federal jurisdiction” at the time of the IRA’s enactment in 1934,”stated Chairman Arnold.  “Most significantly, the United States purchased land for our Tribe in 1911, and that land, the Sugar Bowl Rancheria, was plainly set aside under Federal supervision for the exclusive use and occupancy of our Tribe.”  The Chairman continues, “Further, our Tribe had significant contact with the Interior Department and the various Federal Indian agents prior to 1934, and many, if not all of our tribal members during the early 1930s participated in programs of the Office of Indian Affairs.  The Tribe has already provided  the Bureau of Indian Affairs with hundreds of documents from the time the IRA was enacted showing that the Tribe was absolutely under Federal jurisdiction in 1934.” 


Lastly, Scotts Valley’s illegal termination in 1965 and subsequent judicial restoration in 1992 is irrelevant to the Secretary’s trust acquisition authority under IRA.  The Supreme Court was absolutely clear; the Secretary has authority to take land into trust for any tribe that was under Federal jurisdiction in 1934 and this unquestionably includes Scotts Valley.