by CHRIS T.
NGUYEN, Associated Press Writer
Originally posted 30 September 2004
Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday signed a bill that
will give American Indian tribes more protection over
their sacred sites on public land, allowing them to buy
property and shield it from development.
praised the decision and said it was a victory in a
battle to preserve cultural resources.
bill, which becomes effective March 1 and extends to
both federally recognized and unrecognized tribes, also
requires local governments to notify tribes about
possible future development.
a step in the right direction," said James Ramos,
treasurer and cultural awareness coordinator for the San
Manuel Band of Mission Indians. "It doesn't stop
the construction, but it gives us a say."
bill introduced by Sen. John Burton, D-San Francisco,
was one of the Legislature's most divisive and took
lawmakers and lobbyists nearly two years to reach an
accord since it was introduced in December 2002.
to pass a similar bill failed. Former Gov. Gray Davis
had vetoed a bill that would have given tribes authority
to block development on both private and public land
near their sacred sites.
the Burton bill, California tribes had wanted tighter
restrictions on development on public land containing
sacred cultural resources, while developers, businesses
and local governments worried about burdensome
escalated into a bitter debate -- tribes alleged racism
and insensitivity to their issues, and lobbyists
complained casino-rich tribes were exerting undue
bill, which the Legislature passed in August, will
require local governments to notify tribes when they
change their development plan and gives tribes 60 days
to say whether the plan would harm any sacred sites.
also will be allowed to buy public land and put it under
cultural easements that will shield it from development,
similar to conservation easements that environmental
groups use to preserve land.
Wood, environmental specialist for the California Native
American Heritage Commission, said Thursday the new law
will help tribes preserve their land, artifacts and
sacred sites, but it does not provide additional
protections on private land.