Tule Lake Committee Files Lawsuit Seeking Injunctive Relief To Stop Transfer Of Tulelake Airport To Modoc Tribe Of Oklahoma

The following is a press release from the Tule Lake Committee.

On August 23, the Tule Lake Committee filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, in Sacramento, seeking a preliminary injunction to stop the city of Tulelake from giving the Tulelake airport to the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma for the $17,500 cost of Tulelake’s legal fees in the transaction.

The action challenges the decision — giving Tulelake airport lands that occupy 2/3rds of the historic Tule Lake site — by defendant City of Tulelake, through its City Council, to defendant Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma, an entity connected by federal court judgments to repeated criminal frauds and frauds on courts, and an entity in active disregard of state and federal laws.

On July 31, 2018, the City Council of Tulelake, CA unanimously approved the sale of the 358-acre Tulelake airport to the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma. The sale will become final at the end of the 30-days without intervention of the Court.

The City’s secretive closed meetings, its non-responses to the Committee’s inquiries and offers, its negotiations exclusively with the Tribe, its refusal to allow the Committee to have an agenda item to discuss its purchase offer, and its Ordinance that designated the Tribe as the purchaser, suggest that the vote on July 31 was a mere formality for an already-made decision.

The City of Tulelake gave the Tule Lake Committee scant notice and no meaningful opportunity to be heard.

The lawsuit asks the Court to ensure our concerns about the lack of consideration, due process and transparency are addressed. It also seeks to prevent the airport being given to a tribe that markets and promotes its sovereign immunity as a way to help businesses avoid the “burdens of regulations.”

The Tule Lake Committee, rather than viewing government regulation as something to avoid, believes the historic site has been protected due to requirements to comply with environmental regulations and historic preservation laws. However, at the public hearing on July 31, concern about Tule Lake as a nationally significant human and civil rights historic site was not evident.

The City’s lawyer, Michael Colantuono, repeatedly referred to the historic site as “a piece of dirt.” The tribe’s representative, Blake Follis, emphasized the tribe’s priority would be to do “anything to support aviation.” Follis has repeatedly expressed indifference, even hostility toward preserving the Tule Lake historic site, arguing, “Japanese Americans had it much better than we did.”

Editor’s note: A hearing was held on August 24. No further details were announced.


Background On The Airport Sale

LEAD PHOTO: A view down one of the streets of the Tule Lake Segregation Center, November 3, 1942. Photo: Francis Stewart, courtesy Japanese American Relocation Digital Archives, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

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