| Home > 106th Congressional Bills > H.R. 4643 (rh) To provide for the settlement of issues and claims related to the trust lands of the Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians, and for other purposes. [Reported in House] ...
H.R. 4643 (rh) To provide for the settlement of issues and claims related to the trust lands of the Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians, and for other purposes. [Reported in House] ...
106th CONGRESS 2d Session H. R. 4643 _______________________________________________________________________ IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES September 19, 2000 Received; read twice and referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs _______________________________________________________________________ AN ACT To provide for the settlement of issues and claims related to the trust lands of the Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians, and for other purposes. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the ``Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians Claims Settlement Act''. SEC. 2. CONGRESSIONAL FINDINGS AND PURPOSE. (a) Findings.--The Congress finds the following: (1) In 1876, the Torres-Martinez Indian Reservation was created, reserving a single, 640-acre section of land in the Coachella Valley, California, north of the Salton Sink. The Reservation was expanded in 1891 by Executive Order, pursuant to the Mission Indian Relief Act of 1891, adding about 12,000 acres to the original 640-acre reservation. (2) Between 1905 and 1907, flood waters of the Colorado River filled the Salton Sink, creating the Salton Sea, inundating approximately 2,000 acres of the 1891 reservation lands. (3) In 1909, an additional 12,000 acres of land, 9,000 of which were then submerged under the Salton Sea, were added to the reservation under a Secretarial Order issued pursuant to a 1907 amendment of the Mission Indian Relief Act. Due to receding water levels in the Salton Sea through the process of evaporation, at the time of the 1909 enlargement of the reservation, there were some expectations that the Salton Sea would recede within a period of 25 years. (4) Through the present day, the majority of the lands added to the reservation in 1909 remain inundated due in part to the flowage of natural runoff and drainage water from the irrigation systems of the Imperial, Coachella, and Mexicali Valleys into the Salton Sea. (5) In addition to those lands that are inundated, there are also tribal and individual Indian lands located on the perimeter of the Salton Sea that are not currently irrigable due to lack of proper drainage. (6) In 1982, the United States brought an action in trespass entitled ``United States of America, in its own right and on behalf of Torres-Martinez Band of Mission Indians and the Allottees therein v. the Imperial Irrigation District and Coachella Valley Water District'', Case No. 82-1790 K (M) (hereafter in this section referred to as the ``U.S. Suit'') on behalf of the Torres-Martinez Indian Tribe and affected Indian allottees against the two water districts seeking damages related to the inundation of tribal- and allottee-owned lands and injunctive relief to prevent future discharge of water on such lands. (7) On August 20, 1992, the Federal District Court for the Southern District of California entered a judgment in the U.S. Suit requiring the Coachella Valley Water District to pay $212,908.41 in past and future damages and the Imperial Irrigation District to pay $2,795,694.33 in past and future damages in lieu of the United States request for a permanent injunction against continued flooding of the submerged lands. (8) The United States, the Coachella Valley Water District, and the Imperial Irrigation District have filed notices of appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from the district court's judgment in the U.S. Suit (Nos. 93-55389, 93-55398, and 93-55402), and the Tribe has filed a notice of appeal from the district court's denial of its motion to intervene as a matter of right (No. 92-55129). (9) The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has stayed further action on the appeals pending the outcome of settlement negotiations. (10) In 1991, the Tribe brought its own lawsuit, Torres- Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians, et al., v. Imperial Irrigation District, et al., Case No. 91-1670 J (LSP) (hereafter in this section referred to as the ``Indian Suit'') in the United States District Court, Southern District of California, against the two water districts, and amended the complaint to include as a plaintiff, Mary Resvaloso, in her own right, and as class representative of all other affected Indian allotment owners. (11) The Indian Suit has been stayed by the district court to facilitate settlement negotiations. (b) Purpose.--The purpose of this Act is to facilitate and implement the settlement agreement negotiated and executed by the parties to the U.S. Suit and Indian Suit for the purpose of resolving their conflicting claims to their mutual satisfaction and in the public interest. SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS. For the purposes of this Act: (1) Tribe.--The term ``Tribe'' means the Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians, a federally recognized Indian tribe with a reservation located in Riverside and Imperial Counties, California. (2) Allottees.--The term ``allottees'' means those individual Tribe members, their successors, heirs, and assigns, who have individual ownership of allotted Indian trust lands within the Torres-Martinez Indian Reservation. (3) Salton sea.--The term ``Salton Sea'' means the inland body of water located in Riverside and Imperial Counties which serves as a drainage reservoir for water from precipitation, natural runoff, irrigation return flows, wastewater, floods, and other inflow from within its watershed area. (4) Settlement agreement.--The term ``Settlement Agreement'' means the Agreement of Compromise and Settlement Concerning Claims to the Lands of the United States Within and on the Perimeter of the Salton Sea Drainage Reservoir Held in Trust for the Torres-Martinez Indians executed on June 18, 1996, as modified by the first, second, third, and fourth modifications thereto. (5) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of the Interior. (6) Permanent flowage easement.--The term ``permanent flowage easement'' means the perpetual right by the water districts to use the described lands in the Salton Sink within and below the minus 220-foot contour as a drainage reservoir to receive and store water from their respective water and drainage systems, including flood water, return flows from irrigation, tail water, leach water, operational spills, and any other water which overflows and floods such lands, originating from lands within such water districts. SEC. 4. RATIFICATION OF SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT. The United States hereby approves, ratifies, and confirms the Settlement Agreement. SEC. 5. SETTLEMENT FUNDS. (a) Establishment of Tribal and Allottees Settlement Trust Funds Accounts.-- (1) In general.--There are established in the Treasury of the United States three settlement trust fund accounts to be known as the ``Torres-Martinez Settlement Trust Funds Account'', the ``Torres-Martinez Allottees Settlement Account I'', and the ``Torres-Martinez Allottees Settlement Account II'', respectively. (2) Availability.--Amounts held in the Torres-Martinez Settlement Trust Funds Account, the Torres-Martinez Allottees Settlement Account I, and the Torres-Martinez Allottees Settlement Account II shall be available to the Secretary for distribution to the Tribe and affected allottees in accordance with subsection (c). (b) Contributions to the Settlement Trust Funds.-- (1) In general.--Amounts paid to the Secretary for deposit into the trust fund accounts established by subsection (a) shall be allocated among and deposited in the trust accounts in the amounts determined by the tribal-allottee allocation provisions of the Settlement Agreement. (2) Cash payments by coachella valley water district.-- Within the time, in the manner, and upon the conditions specified in the Settlement Agreement, the Coachella Valley Water District shall pay the sum of $337,908.41 to the United States for the benefit of the Tribe and any affected allottees. (3) Cash payments by imperial irrigation district.--Within the time, in the manner, and upon the conditions specified in the Settlement Agreement, the Imperial Irrigation District shall pay the sum of $3,670,694.33 to the United States for the benefit of the Tribe and any affected allottees. (4) Cash payments by the united states.--Within the time and upon the conditions specified in the Settlement Agreement, the United States shall pay into the three separate tribal and allottee trust fund accounts the total sum of $10,200,000, of which sum-- (A) $4,200,000 shall be provided from moneys appropriated by Congress under section 1304 of title 31, United States Code, the conditions of which are deemed to have been met, including those of section 2414 of title 28, United States Code; and (B) $6,000,000 shall be provided from moneys appropriated by Congress for this specific purpose to the Secretary. (5) Additional payments.--In the event that any of the sums described in paragraph (2) or (3) are not timely paid by the Coachella Valley Water District or the Imperial Irrigation District, as the case may be, the delinquent payor shall pay an additional sum equal to 10 percent interest annually on the amount outstanding daily, compounded yearly on December 31 of each respective year, until all outstanding amounts due have been paid in full. (6) Severally liable for payments.--The Coachella Valley Water District, the Imperial Irrigation District, and the United States shall each be severally liable, but not jointly liable, for its respective obligation to make the payments specified by this subsection. (c) Administration of Settlement Trust Funds.--The Secretary shall administer and distribute funds held in the Torres-Martinez Settlement Trust Funds Account, the Torres-Martinez Allottees Settlement Account I, and the Torres-Martinez Allottees Settlement Account II in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Settlement Agreement. SEC. 6. TRUST LAND ACQUISITION AND STATUS. (a) Acquisition and Placement of Lands Into Trust.-- (1) In general.--The Secretary shall convey into trust status lands purchased or otherwise acquired by the Tribe within the areas described in paragraphs (2) and (3) in an amount not to exceed 11,800 acres in accordance with the terms, conditions, criteria, and procedures set forth in the Settlement Agreement and this Act. Subject to such terms, conditions, criteria, and procedures, all lands purchased or otherwise acquired by the Tribe and conveyed into trust status for the benefit of the Tribe pursuant to the Settlement Agreement and this Act shall be considered as if such lands were so acquired in trust status in 1909 except as (i) to water rights as provided in subsection (c), and (ii) to valid rights existing at the time of acquisition pursuant to this Act. (2) Primary acquisition area.-- (A) In general.--The primary area within which lands may be acquired pursuant to paragraph (1) consists of the lands located in the Primary Acquisition Area, as defined in the Settlement Agreement. The amount of acreage that may be acquired from such area is 11,800 acres less the number of acres acquired and conveyed into trust under paragraph (3). (B) Effect of objection.--Lands referred to in subparagraph (A) may not be acquired pursuant to paragraph (1) if by majority vote the governing body of the city within whose incorporated boundaries (as such boundaries exist on the date of the Settlement Agreement) the subject lands are situated within formally objects to the Tribe's request to convey the subject lands into trust and notifies the Secretary of such objection in writing within 60 days of receiving a copy of the Tribe's request in accordance with the Settlement Agreement. Upon receipt of such a notification, the Secretary shall deny the acquisition request. (3) Secondary acquisition area.-- (A) In general.--Not more than 640 acres of land may be acquired pursuant to paragraph (1) from those certain lands located in the Secondary Acquisition Area, as defined in the Settlement Agreement. (B) Effect of objection.--Lands referred to in subparagraph (A) may not be acquired pursuant to paragraph (1) if by majority vote-- (i) the governing body of the city within whose incorporated boundaries (as such boundaries exist on the date of the Settlement Agreement) the subject lands are situated within; or (ii) the governing body of Riverside County, California, in the event that such lands are located within an unincorporated area, formally objects to the Tribe's request to convey the subject lands into trust and notifies the Secretary of such objection in writing within 60 days of receiving a copy of the Tribe's request in accordance with the Settlement Agreement. Upon receipt of such a notification, the Secretary shall deny the acquisition request. (4) Contiguous lands.--The Secretary shall not take any lands into trust for the Tribe under generally applicable Federal statutes or regulations where such lands are both-- (A) contiguous to any lands within the Secondary Acquisition Area that are taken into trust pursuant to the terms of the Settlement Agreement and this Act; and (B) situated outside the Secondary Acquisition Area. (b) Restrictions on Gaming.--The Tribe may conduct gaming on only one site within the lands acquired pursuant to subsection 6(a)(1) as more particularly provided in the Settlement Agreement. (c) Water Rights.--All lands acquired by the Tribe under subsection (a) shall-- (1) be subject to all valid water rights existing at the time of tribal acquisition, including (but not limited to) all rights under any permit or license issued under the laws of the State of California to commence an appropriation of water, to appropriate water, or to increase the amount of water appropriated; (2) be subject to the paramount rights of any person who at any time recharges or stores water in a ground water basin to recapture or recover the recharged or stored water or to authorize others to recapture or recover the recharged or stored water; and (3) continue to enjoy all valid water rights appurtenant to the land existing immediately prior to the time of tribal acquisition.
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