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Reps. Issa, Vargas re-introduce legislation to place sacred tribal land into trust

WASHINGTON – Rep. Darrell Issa, CA-48, and Rep. Juan Vargas, CA-52, re-introduced legislation to place 700 acres of sacred land into a Pala Band of Mission Indians tribal trust.

“This bipartisan legislation will preserve a 700-acre span of sacred tribal land and ensure the protection of timeless heritage, culture, tradition, and history,” Issa said. “I am proud to join my friend Rep. Vargas and provide the Pala Band of Mission Indians with new stewardship and the ability to manage and preserve their historical land into the future.”

The property includes the remaining portion of San Diego County’s Gregory Mountain that is not on the existing Pala Reservation. In 2019, Pala Band Chair Robert Smith testified to Congress that the land was historically occupied by Native peoples and is a site of an ancestral village, rock art paintings and ancient artifacts.

“As home to nearly 1,000 enrolled members, the Pala Band of Mission Indians’ land in San Diego County is rich in sacred history,” Vargas said. “I’m proud to join my colleague, Rep. Darrell Issa, in introducing the Pala Band of Mission Indians Land Transfer Act, which will transfer approximately 700 acres to tribal trust. This land has sacred sites, including portions of Gregory Mountain, which are part of their historical and ancestral landscape.”

“The Pala Band of Mission Indians looks forward to working closely with Congressman Darrell Issa as we aim to protect Chokla, our sacred mountain,” Smith said. “This legislation would place culturally-significant ancestral lands into federal trust and ensure the people of Pala can continue to preserve our legacy and traditions for future generations. We are grateful for Congressman Issa’s long-standing commitment to support this important effort.”

Darrell Issa is the Representative of California’s 48th Congressional District. The District encompasses the central and eastern parts of San Diego County and a portion of Riverside County, including the communities of Fallbrook, Valley Center, Ramona, Escondido, Santee, Lakeside, Poway, Temecula, Murrieta and the mountain and desert areas of the San Diego-Imperial County line.


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