Northwest of Santa Barbara, Calif., the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians runs a popular casino and resort on its reservation. Tribal leaders, however, say much of the rest of the 138-acre site sits on a floodplain or is too hilly to build on, which means only a fraction of the tribe can live there.
So three years ago the Chumash bought nearly 1,400 acres of land from Fess Parker, the actor of “Davy Crockett” fame who in his later years operated a winery in the area. The tribe says it wants to build 143 houses for its members on the plot, known as Camp 4, but opponents say by trying to invoke an obscure conveyance method involving the federal government, it has tipped its hand about its real motive – building yet another casino.
Those same opponents say another gambling mecca would be a blight on an area that is a haven for art galleries and vineyards (the wine-connoisseur movie “Sideways” was filmed here), a picturesque tourist magnet perched on the Pacific coastline some 100 miles north of Los Angeles.