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Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians, California

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A burial ground sits in the way of a proposed power-line route and tribal members asked U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer to help preserve the site. The California Democrat introduced an amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill to place more than 700 acres of land owned by the tribe in a federal trust. If approved, the legislation would allow the tribe to bypass the procedure review by the BIA. San Diego Gas & Electric wants to run a 500,000-volt power line through the area. The $271 million route would run through southwestern Riverside County and link the utility's grid with one operated by Southern California Edison. SDG&E officials said the proposed federal legislation wouldn't derail the company's project. "There are variations of our line that don't require that land, and there are alternatives further west,'' said SDG&E spokeswoman Jacqueline Howells. The state's Public Utilities Commission must still approve the project. The tribe recently bought the site, which has one of the state's oldest oak trees. It is also home to several village sites and areas used for cremation. Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro said the amendment wasn't specifically meant to block the power line project but rather to preserve the land from development.

An archaeologist sued Temecula over city rules that require Pechanga Indian monitoring of building sites and artifacts disposition. David M. Van Horn's U.S. District Court suit claims Temecula has granted special powers to the tribe that are in violation of several sections of state law. Van Horn asked for $30,000 in damages and demanded that Temecula change policies that force developers to hire Pechanga Indians to monitor construction work and immediately turn over remains and artifacts to the tribe. He claims Pechanga members aren't qualified to monitor grading or oversee the work of archaeologists. "We're still of the same mind and still believe the city's conditions are appropriate,'' Temecula City Attorney Peter M. Thorson said July 17. Mark Macarro, chairman of the Temecula Band of Luiseno Indians, said Van Horn was motivated by a "long-standing antagonism'' toward the tribe. In November 1990, a Municipal Court judge ruled that Van Horn should not stand trial for allegedly violating a 1988 state law that criminalized the removal of artifacts or remains from American Indian burial sites.

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