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Tribe offers to take over cemetery

Letter from United Auburn Indian Community indicates desire to care for property
By: Martha Garcia, Colfax Record Editor
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A proposal to convey ownership of the Colfax Indian Cemetery property has been presented to the Colfax Cemetery District. At the Aug. 31 meeting of the Colfax Cemetery District, Gregory S. Baker, Tribal Administrator for the United Auburn Indian Community, presented a letter from the UAIC indicating the UAIC’s desire to “enter into a preliminary agreement to acquire, for the ‘trust and care,’ the property known as the Colfax Indian Cemetery.” The UAIC will also provide “financial resources for the upkeep, utility costs, liability insurance, and various operational needs for the property,” Baker said in the letter. According to Nancy Hagman, Colfax Cemetery District trustee and district board executive secretary, the cemetery district is following a recommendation by the 2008 Placer County Grand Jury that the district divest itself of the Indian Cemetery property because of the liability. In February 2011 the cemetery district issued a resolution recognizing the Colfax-Todds Valley Consolidated Tribe as volunteers, allowing them to maintain the facility and gravesites, as they had done in the past. The tribe was also required to obtain liability insurance to cover burial ceremonies, specifically hand digging of graves. Foresthill resident Pamela Cubbler, chairman of the Colfax-Todds Valley Consolidated Tribe, said her group has not yet met with the UAIC. “The only comment we can make is that their offer to purchase the land for the local Indian community is a very generous offer,” Cubbler said. Judy Marks, of the Burial Grounds Committee that maintains the cemetery for the Colfax-Todds Valley Consolidated Tribe, said she was aware of the UAIC’s proposal. Speaking for the Burial Grounds Committee only, Marks said, “We just appreciate their offer very much and look forward to working with them … We are hopeful that things will eventually work out.” Doug Elmets, spokesman for the UAIC, said the UAIC would reimburse the Colfax Cemetery District for expenses they may have incurred over the last several years … including such things as water and maintenance … Moving forward the UAIC would have the responsibility for water, maintenance, insurance.” Elmets said there are numerous members of the UAIC who have relatives who are buried in the cemetery and the UAIC would like to maintain and preserve the cemetery for the ancestors of tribal members buried there. The UAIC is intent on maintaining open access to the Indian cemetery, Elmets stressed. “Provided that the cemetery district conveys the property to the UAIC, the Tribe will maintain open access for family members of other tribes in the region who have relatives buried there,” Elmets said. According to Hagman, a public hearing on the issue will be held at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, at Colfax City Hall, 33 S. Main St.