December 2, 2009
SAN DIEGO - Long ago the Pala Indian Band lived in what is now known as Warner Springs Ranch until they were removed by government agents. Now times have changed. The tribe is spending $20 million earned from its casino to buy back this ancestral land. Their plans are to continue operating it as a resort.
"We're going to keep it the way it is and run it like a business, make it successful," said Pala Chairman Robert Smith. "It was like a dream for myself and the tribe. Fifteen years ago, I never thought we'd be able to do it."
Warner Springs Ranch is a 2,522-acre resort on state Route 79 about 65 miles from downtown San Diego. It lies next to the tribe's old cemetery and a small church built in 1830 by missionaries. The resort includes 250 bungalows, including 17 adobe casitas which housed some of the Pala's ancestors, a dining hall, horse trails, a golf course, tennis courts and a landing strip.
The purchase is in escrow. The sellers are 2,000 individuals who paid about $30,000 each in the 1980s for a share of the property. At close of escrow each will receive about $10,000.
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