Indian tribes have long been held to be distinct political communities. This inherent sovereignty of tribal governments is acknowledged in the United States Constitution, as well as treaties, legislation and judicial and administrative decisions. Land is essential for tribes in order for them to function as governments. Tribal trust lands are especially important to this advancement. Tribes need trust lands so that they can provide governmental services for their members, such as housing, health care, education, economic development, and in order to protect historic, cultural and religious ties to the land.
The Indian Reorganization Act (“IRA”) recognized the need for tribes to have and govern their own lands to provide for the advancement and self‐support of their people. The legislative history of the IRA clearly shows the intent of Congress to address and ameliorate the extensive loss of land tribes had suffered. Specifically, the IRA made a change in federal Indian policy which would “establish machinery whereby Indian tribes would be able to assume a greater degree of self‐government, both politically and economically.” This is done through growing their land bases.
Every Indian tribe needs to have a homeland with clearly delineated authority to provide services to its members and jurisdiction over its lands to provide the necessary infrastructure and land use planning for future generations. With the exception of the small parcel Congress provided it for gaming in San Pablo, which is not large enough for a tribal homeland, Lytton Rancheria has been left essentially landless since it was terminated in 1961. For more than fifty years the Tribe has not been able to provide its members a homeland on which to have housing, community and governmental facilities, and to follow their religious practices without interference from outsiders.
TRIBE IDENTIFIES PROPERTY FOR HOMELAND
NEIGHBORHOOD - LOCATION & DESIGN
Located west of Starr Road, east of Eastside Road and south of Windsor River Road, the 124-acre proposed project includes 95 single family homes, 24 senior cottages and 28 townhomes. In addition, there will be a 18,000 square foot Community Center, a 4,200 square foot Retreat and a ceremonial Roundhouse, along with multi-use trails and open space.
The plan incorporates many sustainable features into the community as a whole, including the limited disturbance of the natural grade and preservation of existing trees; bio-swales and other stormwater runoff treatment/containment systems; cut-off luminaires and shielded lighting to avoid light pollution; water-efficient landscaping using primarily drought tolerant and native plant materials; energy-efficient buildings reducing energy use by HVAC and lighting systems and controls; and the use of renewable, recycled, and low VOC materials.
Once the land was identified and the design plans initiated, the next step was review of impacts and needs. Some of the property was outside of the Urban Growth Boundary for the Town of Windsor, limiting the Tribe's ability to secure sewer and water service to its homes and community buildings from the Town.
An Environmental Assessment (EA) was prepared for the project with two likely solutions identified for addressing this challenge. The two pathways for establishing sewer and water services to the residential project are a) seek a Service Agreement with the Town of Windsor or b) build and privately manage a water and wastewater treatment facility on additional tribal property.
While the Tribe would have the legal authority for option B on trust lands, they decided to pursue alternative A. With that in mind, Lytton took the first steps to prepare for a strong inter-government relationship with the Town of Windsor and the County of Sonoma. Learn more here.