The Chairman of the Chumash Indian Tribe has blasted comments questioning the framework of Native American Sovereignty made by Santa Barbara County Supervisor Peter Adam.
In a public meeting on Tuesday discussing the County’s legislative agenda in Sacramento, Adam questioned whether the system that created self-government for tribes should be evaluated.
“I think we should maybe be asking to revisit the whole Reservation system,” Adam said. “I think it’s inadvisable to have sovereign in-holdings in the middle of our nation.”
The comments drew a sharp response from Chumash Tribal Chairman Vincent Armenta.
“This type of ignorant comment shows what our tribe is up against when we try to work with the County of Santa Barbara, and it shows why these officials refuse to recognize our tribe as a government,” Armenta said.
“Tribal sovereignty is vital to the very existence of Native American tribes. It allows tribes to govern themselves and help protect the health, safety and welfare of their membership within the tribal boundaries. For an elected official to suggest the elimination of tribal sovereignty is beyond appalling. It’s a serious threat to Native Americans across the United States,” he added.
Supervisor Adam represents the County’s 4th District in northern Santa Barbara County. In a telephone interview Thursday afternoon, he denied he was advocating a repeal of tribal sovereignty, but does believe the laws that created the current status should be re-evaluated over time.
In a news release sent to reporters Thursday afternoon, the Chumash tribe said:
“Tribal governments have existed in the United States long before European contact, governing themselves through tribal laws, cultural traditions and religious customs. Today , there are 566 federally recognized tribes in the U.S., including the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.”