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The two Democratic California U.S. senators–Sen. Alex Padilla and Laphonza Butler, have introduced 172 acres of land into trust for the benefit of the Jamul Indian Village. 

Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) 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,” Sen. Padilla said. “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,” Sen.Butler said. “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.”

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 Jamul Indian Village Chairwoman Erica M. Pinto says putting the 172 acres will honor the ancestors of the tribe. 

“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,”  Erica M. Pinto, Chairwoman of the Jamul Indian Village said.  

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.

Full text of the bill is available is here.

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