Congressman plans legislation to recognize Native American tribe in Mono Lake Basin

California
Charlotte Lange, 67, chairwoman of the Mono Lake Kutzadika Paiute tribe, sits for a portrait in February on a bluff in Lee Vining overlooking the lake. The tribe is among roughly two dozen unrecognized and landless tribes in California.(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Charlotte Lange, 67, chairwoman of the Mono Lake Kutzadika Paiute tribe, sits for a portrait in February on a bluff in Lee Vining overlooking the lake. The tribe is among roughly two dozen unrecognized and landless tribes in California.(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

They were expert hunters, gatherers and basket weavers who lived for thousands of years on a trade route over the Sierra Nevada connecting them with the rest of California.

The modern history of the Mono Lake Kutzadika Paiute people is told mostly through economic hardship, displacement and a 150-year fight for federal recognition as a distinct Native American tribe — a step needed to establish a sovereign land base to call home.

Rep. Jay Obernolte (R-Big Bear Lake) on Saturday ventured into their lunar-like ancestral landscape of bizarre craggy formations, dormant volcanoes and jagged peaks and delivered good news during an emotional meeting with leaders of the tribe whose members have dwindled from 4,000 to 83.

Obernolte said he plans to introduce a bill Tuesday asking Congress to extend federal recognition to the tribe.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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