Welcome news arrived this Memorial Day Weekend when Congressman Jay Obernolte (R-Big Bear Lake) traveled to Mono Lake to meet with Mono Lake Kutzadika’a Tribe members and announce plans to introduce a bill on Tuesday to ask Congress to extend federal tribal recognition to the Mono Lake Kutzadika’a Tribe. The announcement is featured in this LA Times article by Louis Sahagún.
Kutzadika’a Tribal Chairperson Charlotte Lange, who has been fighting for recognition for 20 years, celebrated the news, calling it “a superb step forward.”
The Mono Lake Committee continues to support federal recognition for the Mono Lake Kutzadika’a Tribe. “The Kutzadika’a were the first voices of the Mono Basin, and they are still very much here,” said Mono Lake Committee Executive Director Geoffrey McQuilkin. “Their wisdom is essential to creating a sustainable future for this very special part of California. We hope this recognition bill advances through Congress quickly.” The Kutzadika’a and the Committee work together towards common goals of protecting and restoring the Mono Basin and educating people about Mono Lake.
The Mono Lake Kutzadika’a Tribe has been actively seeking Federal Recognition since the mid-1970s. In September 2020 then-representative of California’s 8th District, Paul Cook, introduced bill H.R. 8208, “The Mono Lake Kutzadika’a Tribe Recognition Act”. The Mono Lake Committee wrote a letter in support of the Tribe and the bill, as did other groups in Mono County—showing widespread support of their efforts. Unfortunately, the bill expired when the 116th Congress ended in early January 2021.
The introduction of the bill is monumental and exciting, but ensuring passage is yet to come. As the process unfolds the Committee will have more information on how to support the bill and the Tribe on the long road to recognition.
Top photo by Elin Ljung.