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February 18, 2011

Dispute Over Morongo Gate On Fields Road

If you've driven to the westernmost end of the access road that runs by the Cabazon outlets, then you've seen the gateway that the Morongo Indians have constructed to keep out sightseers. [Google satellite view]. Here's an L.A. Times story about Lloyd Fields (the road is named for his father), a non-Indian, who owns 41 acres behind those gates. Mr. Fields has to show some proof of identity to get past the gates, but that doesn't seem to be his primary concern. The tribe will not permit him the access he needs in order to develop those 41 acres and put 146 houses there. The tribe says it's a tribal road. Mr. Fields says it's a public road that the Indians have illegally blocked.

The area is within the city limits of Banning, so the issue goes to them first. The Banning city attorney says that Banning does have a public right-of-way on Fields Road, but the city doesn't maintain the road. A survey would be needed to see if the gatehouse is built in the public right-of-way. Mr. Fields has filed a lawsuit against the city,

Even if the city determines that Fields Road is, in fact, a public street and that the tribe's gate and guard shack were built illegally, the city may be powerless to do anything about it, [city attorney Aleshire] said. The Morongo tribe is a sovereign nation and only in rare circumstances would it be subject to a court order, he said.

According to the lawsuit, Riverside County deeded the west side of Fields Road to the city of Banning and the east side of the road to the Morongo Band of Mission Indians in 1986. Fields also has an easement that runs alongside the eastern portion of the road to his property.

Filed under California,Coachella Valley | permalink | February 18, 2011 at 10:34 AM



Posted by: Alida Marie Fierro Betts, Morongo Tribal Member at Mar 3, 2011 7:34:10 PM

Soverign Nation? No problem! Just put a Department of Homeland Security checkpoint leading out of the Casino Morongo parking lot coming back into the United States, put a single INS agent on duty, and let the traffic take the time it takes to cross back into the United States. How long will the Casino/Resort's business hold up?

As bad as I may feel about the last several centuries' atrocities against the tribes, I'm having trouble with current tribal policies, too.

Posted by: Designer Jim O at Feb 18, 2011 7:46:14 PM

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