Developer and tribal faction leader way off base on claims

Dear Editor,
I am writing to correct several points Mr. Pierce wrote in his
letter to the editor on March 1. Both Mr. Pierce and Ms. Irene
Zwierlein have tried to differentiate their splinter group from the
legitimate Amah Mutsun Tribal Band by claiming we are from Santa
Cruz and that their splinter group is from San Juan Bautista.
Dear Editor,

I am writing to correct several points Mr. Pierce wrote in his letter to the editor on March 1. Both Mr. Pierce and Ms. Irene Zwierlein have tried to differentiate their splinter group from the legitimate Amah Mutsun Tribal Band by claiming we are from Santa Cruz and that their splinter group is from San Juan Bautista. All members of our Tribe descend from San Juan Bautista and are linked to the Mission prior to 1840, the date stated in the splinter group’s constitution. A number of our members descend from both Mission San Juan Bautista and Mission San Cruz.

Ms. Zwierlein formed the splinter group after she resigned as chairperson of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, in writing, effective March 18, 2000.

When Ms. Zwierlein resigned, one tribal council member joined her splinter group. The remaining seven council members continue to serve our Tribe in various capacities. We have made it very clear to Mr. Pierce that he is supporting an illegitimate splinter group, and not the true, historic Amah Mutsun Tribal Band.

Mr. Pierce falsely stated that to the “Santa Cruz Group … gaming is fine for them.”

Our Tribe has never taken a stance regarding gaming. Under my leadership, our tribal nation remains focused on working with our elders, universities, genealogist, and other professionals to restore and preserve our language and culture, to celebrate our history, and ensure our future generations grow up with pride and respect for their heritage.

Spending a tremendous amount of time and energy on issues related to the splinter group, the Sargent Ranch developer, and the California Valley Miwok does not help us attain our goals.

As chairperson I intend to appoint a committee to explore economic development alternatives once we have obtained federal recognition. Only after this exploration will our Tribal Council review the alternatives and decide how to proceed. Two large significant factors in making any decision will be; 1) is the plan consistent with our cultural beliefs and values, and 2) does the plan have community support?

We reiterate our opposition to Mr. Pierce’s plans to develop any portion of Sargent Ranch and strongly encourage the community to continue it’s opposition to this proposal. We are the Amah Mutsun People of San Juan Bautista, we speak for ourselves, and we will continue to support protection of open spaces and cultural resources in our aboriginal territory.

Valentin Lopez, Chairperson, Amah Mutsun Tribal Band

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