A decades-long dispute over sacred land in Pala is over.
Developers wanted to make it into a landfill, but the Pala Band of Mission Indians fought it for 25 years.
Their fight paid off.
The land was purchased from a private owner by developers who were interested in making it a landfill in the 1980’s. The tribe never owned the land.
It wasn’t until new owners acquired that land about two years ago, that the tribe was finally able to buy the sacred ground.
It’s been a hard-fought battle for Pala Band of Mission Indians to get 700 acres of land along Highway 76. “The tribe has been fighting it as a proposed landfill site since the late 1980’s,” said Shasta Gaughen, Pala Environmental Director and Tribal Historic Preservation Officer.
Developers bought the land to make it into a landfill, but the project stalled several times, after it needed nearly 20 different permits and county approval. “Their intention was to blast all of that out with dynamite to make it deeper so that over 30 years it could hold 30 tons of garbage,” explained Gaughen.
The land includes Gregory Mountain, which the tribe considers sacred ground. It’s one of the homes of a spiritual entity called Takwic. Gaughen added, “if that is a place where one of your most important spirits resides, the last thing in the world you want, is for there to be trash on it.”
Gregory Canyon- no longer potential landfill spot. Sacred site for #Pala Band of Mission Indians; bought it back from developers. #NBC7pic.twitter.com/IX9U4Nzsy8
– Ashley Matthews (@ashleyNBC7)November 18, 2016
The site also includes pictographs, medicine plants, as well as an archeological village site that could potentially have human burials. The original developers eventually ran out of money before the project even began, and the land was bought by new developers who are planning to build housing and retail space on part of property that is not sacred. The new owners, also allowed the tribe to buy the land. “I’m hoping that our victory is just good news going forward for other tribes who are trying to protect their sacred sites,” said Gaughen.
The new company, GCL, LLC let the tribe purchase about 700 acres out of the 1,700 acre property, which included Gregory Canyon.
Purchase price was $13 million.
Even though that land has an archeological village, it will remain just the way it is now, untouched.