Rep. Huffman Introduces Bill to allow Lytton Rancheria to take tribal land into trust for housing and other non-gaming purposes

May 22, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) today introduced the Lytton Rancheria Homelands Act of 2015 (H.R. 2538), a bill to take lands in Sonoma County into trust for housing and other non-gaming purposes as part of the Lytton Rancheria reservation.  In 1958, the Lytton Rancheria, a federally-recognized Pomo Indian tribe, lost its homeland when it was terminated by the federal government.  That termination was later found to be unjust and unlawful, and in 1991 the Tribe was restored to federally-recognized status.  However, the restoration did not include restoring the Tribe’s reservation on its ancestral homeland.  Huffman’s bill, supported by the Lytton Rancheria, and the County of Sonoma, would allow the Tribe to return to a communal homeland near their original reservation.

“Congress has twice allowed for the Lytton homelands to be taken away, and I’m pleased to be authoring a bill to reverse this historic injustice,” Huffman said. “An important condition of my introducing this bill was that the Tribe negotiate an agreement with its local government neighbors to address their potential concerns, including the strong opposition to new casinos in Sonoma County.  The negotiated deal provides certainty for all parties, and provides a model for functional, respectful, productive relationships between local governments and tribes. This bill ensures that the Lytton Tribe, after many long years, can finally return to a homeland reservation -- and it does it in partnership with the Tribe’s local government neighbors.”

Margie Mejia, Chairwoman of the Lytton Rancheria praised Congressman Huffman for introducing the bill and said, “This is an important day for the tribe. It has been over sixty years since our land was lost to us and this bill represents the light at the end of the tunnel towards the day when we will finally, and forever, have a communal homeland from which our children will grow and prosper.”

“This legislation strikes a key balance in reestablishing a tribal homeland for the Lytton Rancheria, ensuring that the off-reservation impacts of tribal development are mitigated, and guaranteeing that the land will never be used for gaming,” said Chair Susan Gorin. “Absent this action, the County would have no ability to manage offsite impacts, or preclude gambling. The County appreciates the collaborative relationship with the Lytton Rancheria developed over many years of working on these issues, and Congressman Huffman’s leadership in protecting these agreements through legislation.”

No gaming will be conducted on the lands to be taken into trust by the federal government. The text of the bill can be found HERE and a map can be found HERE.

Sonoma County and Lytton Rancheria signed a memorandum of agreement on March 10, 2015, that details the development and management of the land.

Huffman serves as a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, which oversees tribal policies and lands. He introduced today’s bipartisan bill with Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock).