Manataka® American Indian Council




Kawaiisue tribe sues over ranch development

By Jacob Adelman
Los Angeles, California (AP)

This video tells the story:


A tribe has filed a lawsuit to stop the development of a 5,000-acre gated resort community on a sprawling ranch some 60 miles north of Los Angeles that it claims as tribal land.

The lawsuit filed during November in federal court in Fresno argues that the U.S. Department of Interior failed to recognize the Kawaiisu Tribe of Tejon’s legitimate claim to areas of the 270,000-acre Tejon Ranch property where the Tejon Mountain Village project is planned.

It also argues that Kern County supervisors ignored the existence of historic tribal sites when they approved the project during October. The suit names the interior department and the county.

The project, which includes 3,500 homes, two golf courses and several resort hotels, “will create irreversible damage to the tribe and is an unlawful act that meets the definition of genocide and ethnocide,” according to the lawsuit.

The suit seeks an injunction suspending development, as well as more than $4.5 billion from the Department of Interior in compensation for resources extracted from the land and the tribe’s pain and suffering.

Interior Department spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

Phone messages left with Kawaiisu Chairman David Laughing Horse Robinson and Kern County spokesman Allan Krauter were not immediately returned Thursday.

A coalition of environmentalists filed a separate lawsuit over the project last week, arguing that county officials ignored its potential impact on the California condor while discounting flaws in the its water-use plan and other environmental impacts.

Tejon Mountain Village is the smaller of two developments planned for the Tejon Ranch Co.’s property, the largest piece of privately held land in the state. A separate 23,000-home project known as Centennial is currently undergoing environmental review.



Update from Chief David Laughing Horse Robinson



Manataka, Thank you for alerting Indian Country to the struggles of the Kawaiisu tribal people at the California Tejon Ranch project in October. Here is an update.

I did file a legal action after the project was approved.  The Tejon Mountain Village development EIR states: "the property owner (who is also the owner of the remains), and of any associated archaeological materials."

They are saying this corporation owns our ancestors remains and sacred objects…on the Reservation set aside for our people. We who live, the unborn and our ancestors are made into slaves and property by this statement. This grave robbing is not allowed for the remains of the dominant culture. Also, no other CEQA EIR environmental document in California has ever made such a statement.

The case is filed in California Federal Court. I had to file the case without an attorney (Pro Se) because California Environmental law has a 30 day filing deadline once a project is approved.

Right now I am defending my right to proceed with the case Pro Se (until I locate an attorney) with the Motion to Dismiss hearing set for February 22,
2010. I did ask for a 90 day continuance so that I have more time to secure an attorney.

I have updated the tribal blog with the latest court filing, the Opposition to the Motion To Dismiss. It was filed Friday. URL for the PDF:


Pogmatog Magot (Creator Knows)

David Laughing Horse Robinson



Update from Chief David Laughing Horse Robinson



our February hearing was continued to mid-May.

We are now fundraising to pay attorney fees and have made a video for that effort on YouTube called: Kawaiisu Tribe of Tejon Lawsuit and Sacred Sites on Tejon Ranch It can be found at this URL: .

Our Tribal blog has also been updated with more information about the case:

Thank you for everything you do for our communities.

Pogmatog Magot (Creator Knows)
Horse Robinson