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Published on May 7th, 2011 | by ecsigmun

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Case Summary – Kawaiisu Tribe of Tejon v. Salazar

Case summary originally posted on Scribd.com

A Native American tribe in California has filed it’s Second Amended Complaint (SAC), in a lawsuit opposing the environmental document for a luxury resort development near Los Angeles. The Kawaiisu Tribe of Tejon is requesting a preliminary and permanent injunction stopping the Tejon Mountain Village project in Kern County. The Southern California resort development is being sued alleging Unlawful Possession, violations of NAGPRA, Civil Rights and CEQA. County of Kern, California, Tejon Ranch Corporation, Tejon Mountain Village, LLC (TMV) and the Department of Interior are Defendant’s in the Eastern District of California court action.

The EIR for the project lists more than 50 Native American villages and cemetery sites within the project study area and states that the resort corporation, TMV, “own the remains” of the Kawaiisu, and artifacts found in and around the graves, not requiring repatriation to the Tribe as contemplated by NAGPRA. The SAC addresses numerous cases of sacred cultural resource destruction that have been so far identified in conjunction with the proposed development. Plaintiff’s Kawaiisu Tribe of Tejon and Chairman David Laughing Horse Robinson filed the Second Amended Complaint on April 18, 2011.

The Kawaiisu are one of the ancient Great Basin Shoshone Paiute tribes whose pre-European territory extended from Utah to the Pacific Ocean and have continually inhabited the area from time immemorial. The Tribe descends from signatories to the 1849 Treaty with the Utahs, signed on December 30, 1849 and ratified on September 9, 1850. This treaty was the first tribal treaty signed by the United States after the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty. The Indian Non-Intercourse Act, 25 USC § 177 is incorporated in Article 4 of the 1849 Treaty and the legal proceeding.

The land, in controversy, was purchased by United States Indian Superintendent Edward F. Beale to establish the Tejon Sebastian Indian Reservation; it was the first Indian reservation in California. The reservation was established by Executive Order in 1853, 10 Stat. 226, 238.

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