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Tribe Seeks To Put Land In Trust

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The Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians wants to double the size of its Rancheria in the Mother Lode because the tribe says it has outgrown the area near Tuolumne City.

Tribe spokesman Kevin Day says the tribe is seeking to place 300-acres of land it owns into Trust.

The tribe would continue to pay in-lieu property taxes – according to the county, currently about $21,950 per year. That amount would increase each year as if the parcels were not placed into Trust, so says the county.

The federal Bureau of Indian Affairs approves the trust application. The county has no say in whether the land goes into a Trust.

Day also says the tribe will continue to follow the county’s environmental compliance requirements to the letter.

“We don´t have any problem in doing what’s asked of us and doing it right,” Day told Tuolumne County supervisors Tuesday. “We think the more guidelines and restrictions that are put on things, (results) in a better product coming out in the end.”

The tribe plans to build a new, permanent casino on its Rancheria near Tuolumne City and use the 300-acres to provide additional housing for Me-Wuk tribe members.

He explained the reasons why the tribe wants to expand: “Right now a person living off the reservation who is an enrolled member of our tribe doesn´t have any voting rights, per our constitutional by-laws,” Day said. “This would allow us to bring more of our people back to us.”

The supervisors agreed to send a letter to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in support of the tribe’s application to place the land parcels into Trust.