At the anti-tribal town hall meeting a few weeks ago, tribal opponent groups presented a variety of scenarios designed to incite panic. The problem? Their information was based on fantasy, not reality.

Please come to our public meeting tomorrow night, Sept. 16, for a dose of reality. Beginning at 6 p.m. in the Samala Showroom at the Chumash Casino Resort, you can get the facts about tribal land development, placing land into trust and the tribe’s plans to build tribal housing on our Camp 4 land. 

Rather than rattle off an entire list of reasons to be afraid of an elusive nonexistent boogieman, our distinguished panel of speakers will set the record straight and provide you with solid information on tribal government, tribal land and tribal housing.

Our speakers will include:

- Tribal Chairman Vincent Armenta has been the leader of our nation for a dozen years and has participated in the tribe’s significant success in business as well as in cultural preservation. From developing and operating a popular destination resort to resurrecting its native language, our tribe has taken significant steps forward under his leadership.

- Carl J. Artman served as the United States Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs with jurisdiction over the Office of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education from 2007 to 2008, and he served as the Associate Solicitor for Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior from 2005 to 2007.

He is a member of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin and is a professor at Arizona State University College of Law and director of its Tribal Economic Development Program.

- Kevin Bearquiver, an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes of North Dakota, began his federal career in 1998 with the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Redding.

He also served as the lead person for a consortium of 57 California tribes, which involved a special project for transferring land into trust status. He assisted in creating and implementing the standard operating procedures for processing fee-to-trust acquisitions within the division. 

During his tenure more than 6,000 acres were placed into trust for California tribes. He is the assistant director for the Bureau of Indian Affairs Pacific Region.

- Dave Shaffer is the executive director of the All Mission Indian Housing Authority, an organization whose mission is to provide safe, affordable and decent housing for Indian people residing on reservations that incorporates traditional concepts and values.

I am confident that our panel will provide the answers to questions that you may have regarding the complex issues surrounding placing land into trust, tribal land development and tribal government.

I have been disheartened to see the continued attempts by local tribal opponents to tear down the wonderful relationships we have carefully built in the community. By harping on fabrications that they know are false, they are only serving to divide a community by deceit. 

I sincerely hope that the members of the Santa Ynez Valley community will attend our meeting tomorrow night and see for themselves that we are simply a tribal government that wants to build tribal housing on tribal land.


Richard Gomez is the vice chairman of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.