California tribe concerned about proposed bill

Siskiyou County, Calif. — A Northern California tribe is concerned about a bill that could restore a different tribe that was terminated by the federal government.

The Karuk tribe — which inhabits much of the Mid-Klamath Basin — says it isn’t opposed to the bill that would bring back the Ruffey Rancheria, but members say they are concerned about some of the language in it.

Joshua Saxon is the Executive Director of the Karuk Tribe.

He says California House Resolution 3535 caught him by surprise.

The bill was proposed by California State Representative Doug LaMalfa to re-store the Ruffey Rancheria tribe.

The Ruffey Rancheria tribe was legislatively terminated in 1961 and was no longer entitled to services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Saxon says Rancherias in California have a complex history and he’s afraid those who don’t actually have a lineage could take over, affecting indigenous rights, and well-established fishing and hunting rights.

“The way the bill reads now, there’s an unlimited amount of acreage of land that could possibly come with fishing and hunting rights anywhere in Siskiyou County,” Joshua Saxon said.

According to Representative LaMalfa the Ruffey Rancheria tribe has deep historic roots in the county and their termination was an injustice that should be fixed.

Representative LaMalfa says Ruffey Rancheria is a small tribe of 350 people and he thinks the impact to neighboring tribes will be minor.

He also says the bill will ensure that any land taken into trust by the tribe will be restricted to Siskiyou County and the exact amount of land will be up to the Secretary of the Interior.

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