In her role as Tribal Chairperson for the Ione Band of Miwok Indians, Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell attorney Sara Dutschke Setshwaelo led her tribe in the successful acquisition of over 200 acres of trust land in Plymouth, California for the Tribe’s exclusive use and benefit. The acquisition involved negotiation of a multi-million dollar land purchase agreement and securing a commitment from the United States Department of the Interior to carry out its 2012 decision approving the Tribe’s land acquisition application.
The United States’ acquisition of this land in trust for the Tribe marked the end of a nearly two-decade long federal fee-to-trust process, involving approvals at various levels of federal government and litigation through a petition for a writ of certiorari before the Supreme Court of the United States. Members of the Ione Band – formally restored to federal recognition in 1994 – have worked for over one hundred years to restore a homeland for their people. In the near term, the newly-acquired trust land will be used for development of a multi-phased tribal gaming complex.
Sara was recently interviewed regarding the yearslong land-into-trust efforts that finally came to fruition in March. "Having a land base to call our own really changes things fundamentally when it comes to the exercise of our sovereign jurisdiction and our investment in the tribe itself and that community," she said. "Myself as well as other members of the tribe have listened to our grandparents and great-grandparents talk about their efforts to secure a homeland for the tribe, a land base for the tribe, recognition of the tribe, and literally, this has taken over 100 years." Read more of the Law360 article here.