Monday, February 27, 2012
Native Americans want construction to halt on a road leading to a major new development in North County. A judge will rule on whether to grant an injunction to protect an ancient Indian village and burial ground where Highway 78 crosses Interstate 15.
Heavy equipment is already cutting through fields at the junction of Interstate 15 and Highway 76 for an access road to a new Palomar College campus. Hundreds of new homes are also part of the project, which is an area where the county's new General Plan Update allows development.
But the developers, including Pardee, have long known the area has special significance to several Indian bands. Over several years, negotiations to re-inter "found objects" elsewhere have failed to satisfy the tribes, who say their wishes have not been respected.
Native American monitors are at the site and say excavations have unearthed several new potentially significant artifacts.
Attorney Steve Macdonald represents the San Luis Rey band. He said tribes want the road realigned, which developers say is prohibitively expensive.
“When they say there’s no alternatives, sure it’s going to cost money,” Macdonald said. “This isn’t like ‘poor Palomar College’ trying to put in a road, this is a circulation road for what I understand is well over a thousand homes."
Macdonald said the tribes don’t want bones and other artifacts to be re-interred where looters could find them. He said the location where the road is being built is the site of the second chapter of the Creation Story for many Native Americans living in this region. He said it is a continuation of the story that began further north in Riverside County and was a major reason why tribes opposed the controversial Liberty Quarry.
Palomar College said in a written statement it recognizes the sensitive nature of the Horse Ranch Creek Road and will continue to work closely with the tribes. However, the road is fully permitted and they intend to continue building it.
On Tuesday, a judge in Vista will hear the plea for an injunction to stop the road work to give all parties time to decide how to preserve the site.