Thursday, August 15, 2013
The Sycuan Reservation more than tripled in size as federal officials allowed 1,400 acres of Sycuan-owned land to be included in the reserve.
SAN DIEGO The Sycuan Reservation has nearly tripled in size.
Federal officials approved the tribe's application to add 1,400 acres to its existing reservation, land the Sycuan tribe bought some time ago.
Tribal Chairman Daniel Tucker said the expansion is more than just symbolic.
"This is about coming home," Tucker said. "Getting our land, having...our people live on the land with nice homes and being able to say, 'hey, this is where we live. This is our reservation.'"
Elder George Prieto offered a prayer in his native tongue.
"The good lord said we'll get our land back, and we are getting some of it back," Prieto said in the translation.
The nearly 1,400 acres being added run through the Dehesa Valley. The Sycuan Golf and Hotel Resort are now part of the reservation.
Congressman Darryl Issa was invited to speak. He pointed out the rural nature of the surrounding valley.
"The tribal presence to a great extent means that there will be open space sparsely populated where otherwise, there would be endless development in our county," Issa said.
The application took seven years to win approval. Amy Dutschke, regional director for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, said the original application was for 1,900 acres.
"And, of course, there was a number of endangered species and plants that the service was concerned about and the tribe worked in cooperation with the service to actually set aside that 600-plus acres out of their application," Dutschke said.
Dutschke said most reservation expansions are 10 to 40 acres.