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Published: December 20, 2012

NCTC comments on Dana Adobe Draft EIR

NCTC ‘s comments regarding the Dana Adobe Draft EIR:

Brian Pedrotti, AICP
San Luis Obispo County
Department of Planning & Building
San Luis Obispo California 93401

RE: Dana Adobe LUO/CUP

Dear Brian:

The Northern Chumash Tribal Council (NCTC) is providing the following comments for the draft EIR that the San Luis Obispo County Planning & Building Department has begun pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for the proposed Dana Adobe Land Use Ordinance Amendment and Conditional Use Permit.

The Dana Adobe was built by California Chumash Native Americans on a Sacred Chumash Village and Ceremonial Site.  The Nipomo area has been the home of the Chumash Nation for over 10,000 years.  The bluff where the Dana Adobe sits is a part of a large Chumash Village complex or district. The complex of villages, camps, ceremonial areas stretch from the foothills of Nipomo Valley to the Pacific Ocean.

California Native American Sacred sites are being lost at alarming rate, State and Federal agencies are mandating the protection of Native American Sacred Sites.  Since the beginning of times, the Creator and Mother Earth have given our peoples places to learn the teachings that will allow us to continue and reaffirm our responsibilities and ways on the lands from which we have come. Indigenous peoples are place-based societies, and at the center of those places are the most sacred of our sites, where we reaffirm our relationships. These sites must be preserved to continue our existence, and we believe the existence of all living beings.

Everywhere there are indigenous people, there are sacred sites, there are ways of knowing, there are relationships. The people, the rivers, the mountains, the lakes, the animals and the fish are all related. We know this, as did our ancestors in these lands long ago.  The sacredness is specific to its place and its people that speak to the sacred relationships between humans and their relatives.  Within the place and the cultural practice of Indigenous peoples are many of the answers that are essential to our collective survival.  The protection of sacred sites is, therefore, a United Nations recognized essential right, and it is an essential strategy for preservation of our future.

December 06, 2012 2:30 pm  •  Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Protection of sites held sacred by American Indian and Alaska Natives will be bolstered under a memorandum of understanding signed by four federal agencies and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

The memo signed Thursday by the departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy and Interior also calls for improving tribal access to sites that are on federal land.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says the agreement recognizes the shared responsibility the agencies have to respect and foster Native American cultural and religious heritage.

The agencies plan to work during the next five years to raise awareness about sacred sites. That includes developing a website, a training program for federal employees and guidance for managing sacred sites.

The agreement comes just weeks after thieves made off with rock carvings that had graced a sacred site in California’s Sierra Nevada

The current plans for the proposed Dana Adobe project completely overlay the Chumash Sacred lands which surround the Dana Adobe.  Religious and ceremonial practices of Californian Chumash Native Americans are inseparably bound to land and waters. The relationship between physical areas and religious ceremonies is a basic and essential component of our religions and cultures. Sacred sites are places where ceremonies and rituals have or are performed, traditional medicine is gathered, places of star studying significance, trees, rock outcroppings, streams, overviews, and places of life.  Sacred Places tell us who we are and where we are, and they must be protected.

California Native Americans came to the land of the Chumash because of our great weather and abundant food sources and peaceful life ways, and celebrated the wonders of Mother Earth and Father Sky. The incredible stories of the Chumash Peoples have been woven into the living Nipomo landscape, the land is alive, our stories are alive, and we are alive today.  Our Sacred Places are being built upon and the destruction of our culture is being impacted by the onslaught of development projects and public safety projects.  The Dana Adobe is a historic landmark and as such must preserve not only the Dana stories but the stories of the Chumash Peoples, the destruction of any portion of our Sacred Site is not within the scope of a Historic Landmark project, and would be a destruction of a magical living indigenous culture on a Sacred Site.

Laws, guidelines, regulation and ordinances that protect California Native Americans:

Constitution of the U.S., United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, SB 18, CEQA, American Indian Religious Freedom Act, Antiquities Act, Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act, Archaeological Resources Protection Act, Executive Order 11593, Executive Order 13007, Executive Order 13175,  Executive Order 13287, Historic Sites, Buildings, and Antiquities Act, National Historic Preservation Act.

*The proposed project must be designed to avoid Chumash Cultural Resources.

*The scope of Cultural Resource mapping must be through and complete.

*Longitude and latitude mapping of all Cultural Resources identified during surveys or excavations.

*Significance of the Clovis Point found on leased property.

*Significance of Ceremonial Circles found on the leased property.

*Significance of the all the Chumash Cultural Resources in the surrounding area.

*Significance of the Ethno history.

*Significance pre-history and history of the Chumash Peoples who lived at the Dana Adobe.

Aesthetics – proposed project site will completely block out any potential for Sacred Ceremony by not allowing Chumash of today to have the peaceful surroundings of the site and by covering the site, this covering or capping will not allow for ceremony to occur.

Biological Resources – The Animal and Plant Nations will be impacted by this very large events center, with up to 1,500 people at a time, this will have serve impacts to the habitat for several sensitive plant and wildlife species, including the CA Red Legged Frog, White-tailed Kite, wetland and riparian habitats.

Geology and Soils – The proposed car/truck bridge and foot bridges are usually hazardous and are lethality zones for endangered spices.

Flood plain issues are very important for creek erosion and the larger storms that will come with global warming.

Emergency Access – for the amount of people (1500) at the events center is a concern.

Transportation to and from the proposed events center must be thoroughly reviewed.

Water – need to consider all cumulative impacts to surface and groundwater.

Land Use – project is an LUO Amendment, access considerations must be review thoroughly, and

must be consistent with San Luis Obispo County General Plan and Planning Area Standards.

– President Barack Obama

 Remarks Before Signing the Tribal Law and Order Act

 July 29, 2010

“I intend to send a clear message that all of our people whether they live in our biggest cities or our most remote reservations have the right to feel safe in their own communities, and to raise their children in peace, and enjoy the fullest protection of our laws.”

– Attorney General Eric Holder

“This Administration is taking concrete steps to redefine the government relationship with Native Americans. By working together, by using every tool at our disposal, by facing up to hard truths and by refusing to ever back down or give up, we can make a real difference and we will.”

– Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez

“I have made the Civil Rights of American Indians a priority for the Civil Rights Division. For far too long Native Americans have experienced discrimination and injustice, and the federal government can and must stop such discrimination.”

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples assures that all indigenous people have the right to be who they are, that they have the right to exist as distinct peoples, and that they have the right to “maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures.” We have the stated right to “practice and revitalize” our sacred cultural traditions and customs.

The Declaration affirms the rights of indigenous peoples to “manifest, practice, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies,” and “to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites.”

The Declaration recognizes that much of what indigenous peoples hold sacred in this world has been taken or otherwise lost “without their free, prior and informed consent or in violation of their laws, traditions and customs,” and it calls for states to provide redress “through effective mechanisms” and “through fair, transparent and effective mechanisms developed in conjunction with indigenous peoples concerned.”

The phrase “through effective mechanisms” appears twice in Articles 11 and 12, serving to underscore the fact that nation states should utilize the power of regulatory, legislative and other authorities to assure that the rights of Indigenous peoples to practice and worship in sacred sites and continue religious and cultural ways of living are secure. We are in the midst of a great planetary crisis, a holocaust of lost species and disappearing indigenous peoples. In the Western hemisphere alone more than 2,000 indigenous nations and tribes have become extinct in the last 500 years. Languages and species are rendered extinct that we may never know existed. This speaks to the pace of extinction, the pace of the holocaust. Changes in technology deepen and widen the threats we face as indigenous peoples, and accelerate the pace of destruction. We must recognize the vast scale and urgency of the common threat. The ability to pray at our Ceremonial Sacred Sites remains an essential element of the preservation of Mother Earth for all races and Peoples.

Please call us if you have any questions.


Fred Collins
Tribal Administrator
Northern Chumash Tribal Council

Northern Chumash Tribal Council: 
Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary: 
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