Members of local Native American tribes have shown their concern and disagreement regarding earthmoving that has begun in the northeast area of State Route 76 and Interstate 15 as the precursor to construction of a new road to serve a future community college campus and housing developments approved by the County of San Diego. The tribes have pointed out to the county on numerous occasions that the area contains ancient gravesites of tribal members.
According to John Fox of Rez Radio on Pala, Bennae Calac, secretary/treasurer of the Pauma Yuima Band of Luiseno Indians, said on Feb. 23 that “construction began very early, at sunrise, with the removal of stakes marking off sites that were not to be disturbed due to the presence of artifacts and human remains from an ancient Luiseno village.” Fox said Callac has called on all tribal members in San Diego and Riverside counties to support the peaceful demonstration that has been going on.
“Mona Sespe from the Pala tribe reports those sites began being covered over… before state-appointed American Indian cultural experts arrived to monitor the work,” said Fox. “Preservationists claim developers are violating the law, but the hearing for a temporary restraining order requested by the San Luis Rey tribe has been delayed for a week.”
The Pala Band of Mission Indians issued a statement Feb. 23 that they “stand in solidarity” with the San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians and the Pauma Band of Luiseno Indians in opposition to the “disturbing of ancestral tribal sites” by the construction of the Palomar College campus.
The main road, now under construction, would connect the new Fallbrook campus with at least three large residential and commercial projects proposed by developers.
“[These] will undoubtedly create irreversible damage to an ancestral burial site that must be protected,” said Pala Chairman Robert Smith.
“To excavate our ancestors without abiding by the law and protocol that applies to this particular project is deeply disrespectful and a violation of our rights as tribal people,” said Smith. “The legal framework that is in place to protect our irreplaceable tribal heritage must be adhered to. Further consultation and cooperation with the tribes is necessary to prevent any further desecration to our ancestors.”
Smith said the Pala Tribe “will pursue legal action against Palomar College if necessary to protect a site so rich in historical significance and ensure that our ancestors’ remains are treated with the respect they deserve.”
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