Myth Versus Reality

Myth: Having a sovereign nation in Windsor is inevitable. There is nothing anyone can do about it.

Truth:  The Lyttons are prohibited from taking Windsor land into full sovereign nation trust for three reasons:
1) A Supreme Court decision (Calcieri v. Salazar) prohibiting the Department of the Interior from taking land into trust for tribes formed after 1934 (the Lyttons settled in Alexander Valley in 1937);
2) A stipulation attached to their tribal status in 1991 stating that they could not violate the Sonoma County General Plan;
3) The fact that they already have a 9.5-acre reservation in San Pablo, and their homeland, according to the Attorney General Kamala Harris, should now be considered Contra Costa County.

Truth: If we can stop H.R. 2538, we can stop the land from going into trust. The Town of Windsor has the right to publicly oppose the Lyttons’ development. If the Town of Windsor publicly opposes H.R. 2538, it will be very difficult to push the bill through the U.S. Senate and Congress; the bill relies on local support.

Myth: According to H.R. 2538, this project is just a small residential project designed to provide housing for a landless tribe.

Truth: The County of Sonoma has approved a massive commercial development as part of this project. That development includes: a 200-room hotel; restaurants; shops; spa; two event centers; tasting room; 200,000-case winery.

Truth: The tribe is not landless, and in fact has 9.5 acres of reservation land in Contra Costa County.

Truth: The tribe has 220 members (some of them presumably children), and the housing development includes 361 units.

Myth: If H.R. 2538 does not pass, the tribe will build a casino in Windsor.

Truth: The tribe was already prohibited from building a casino in Windsor. According to Tribal Chairwoman Margie Mejia, “In fact, Sonoma County, where most of our ancestral lands are located today, forced a provision in the final court stipulation. The provision forbids the Tribe from acquiring and using any land within the county for any purpose not included in the Sonoma County General Use Plan. Our neighboring tribes have not had to deal with such restrictions.”  According to Senator Dianne Feinstein, “…it took until 1991 for a court to restore the Tribe to its rightful Federal status, but the decision didn’t grant the Tribe any land and it forbade them from engaging in activities prohibited under the Sonoma County general use plan. Effectively, the court prohibited the Tribe from gaming in Sonoma County.”

Myth: By supporting H.R. 2538, we are helping to pull Native Americans out of poverty. If you oppose H.R. 2538, you must be prejudiced against the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians.

Truth:  Many members of the tribe already live in Sonoma County. They are our friends and neighbors, and our childrens’ friends and neighbors. We are happy that their homeland is also our homeland, and want to live alongside them as equal citizens for generations to come.

Truth: The Lyttons gross in excess of $180 million per year at their San Pablo Casino. That amounts to more than $800,000 per tribal member per year. They spent $1.9 million on political lobbying in the past five years. They have purchased more than $50 million worth of Sonoma County real estate, and have invested tens of millions of dollars in local development projects. Thanks to their casino in San Pablo, they do not suffer from poverty.

Truth: We are very happy for the Lyttons’ good fortune. We welcome them to our neighborhood as citizens with equal rights. The Lyttons already enjoy many advantages that regular citizens do not: tax-free income derived from gaming, and the use of a sovereign nation in another county. As such, we do not think they need a second sovereign nation and second profit center in Windsor, and respectfully request that they live among us as neighbors and friends and landowners with equal rights and responsibilities. If they would like to build a winery on agricultural open space, we respectfully request that they follow the same Sonoma County PRMD process that all other developers do. We ask that they not build a resort on agricultural open space because it is in direct violation of the Sonoma County General Plan.