American Indian Studies and American Studies Department Statement on the Horse Ranch Creek Road Project
Palomar College Administration and President Robert Deegan
March 13, 2012
We understand Palomar College did not have a legal obligation to consult with its own faculty experts about the Horse Ranch Creek Road Project, but your choice not to solicit input on the historical sites of Tom Kav (a.k.a. Horse Ranch Creek Road) resulted in a lost opportunity to mitigate or avoid the situation facing the college today. Consulting with the American Indian Studies and American Studies Department would have provided you with critical insight into the “sensitive nature of the Horse Ranch Creek Road project” and its historic and religious importance to the Indian community. AIS is dismayed you failed to recognize the forty-year history of our department and our connection with sovereign local tribal governments as the valuable resource it is. AIS would have facilitated and supported the college’s and President Deegan’s publically stated wish to “honor and respect…the Native American community” (Palomar College website, February 24, 2012, and San Diego Union Tribune, February 23, 2012).
Examples of Palomar College’s missteps include the statement on the Palomar College website: “A portion of the southern road alignment was identified as having the potential to contain archaeological and cultural resources in the approved Environmental Impact Report…”(emphasis added). Misleading statements such as this have a negative impact on the college’s credibility and easily could have been avoided by consultation with AIS. Additionally, as reported in the San Diego Union Tribune, February 29, 2012, Superior Court Judge Harry Elias chastised the district “for not ‘taking seriously’ a provision of state law to meet and confer with tribal officials, specifically after bone fragments were found….” This is another example where public embarrassment to the college could have been avoided by using AIS as a resource.
American Indian Studies has had to rely solely on public records and newspaper articles for information about the college’s intention on this matter. We believe Palomar College has failed to act in good faith, to be transparent in its dealings on this site, and to follow ethical and moral guidelines concerning this site, which has been known as a multiple site source since the 1950s (see D.L. True, Rosemary Pankey, and C.N. Warren’s Tom-Kav: A Late Village Site in Northern San Diego County, California, and Its Place in the San Luis Rey Complex). Palomar’s lack of understanding and sensitivity on this issue leaves the American Indian Studies Department and the local Indian community saddened and perplexed.
While AIS was not asked for input, we are now suggesting the college is misguided in continuing the stance of “we followed the law” and can redeem itself by putting into action its stated commitment to honor the Native American community.
Consult the American Indian Studies’ website for information on a teach-in about Tom Kav in mid-April.