March 23, 2021 (Pala) -- On March 17, 2021, Congressman Darrell Issa introduced the Pala Band of Mission Indians Land Transfer Act (H.R. 1975), a bill that will transfer approximately 721 acres of land adjacent to the Pala Reservation into federal trust status. This land was purchased by the Pala Band of Mission Indians in 2016 in order to prevent the construction of a landfill on sacred Chokla (Gregory Mountain), a site of tremendous cultural significance to Pala’s people.
“The Pala Band is grateful to Congressman Issa for his partnership and willingness to introduce this bill. Transferring the Gregory Mountain cultural property into trust ensures that it will be forever protected as a part of the Pala Reservation. The Pala Band also wishes to acknowledge Congressman Juan Vargas, who has worked with the tribe since 2016 to facilitate this land transfer, according to a press release issued by the tribe.
“The Pala Band of Mission Indians wants to thank Congressman Issa for working with us to protect our sacred lands,” said Pala Band Chairman Robert Smith. “With his help, we will be able to maintain our ancestral stewardship over Chokla and the other sacred sites located on this deeply significant cultural landscape. We are also grateful to Congressman Vargas for his efforts on Pala’s behalf over the years.”
The Pala Band of Mission Indians is a federally recognized tribe whose reservation is located along the Palomar Mountain range approximately 30 miles northeast of San Diego. The majority of the over 900 tribal members live on the 12,000-acre reservation, established for Cupeño and Luiseño Indians, who consider themselves to be one proud people - Pala.