An American Indian tribe in San Diego County has been engaged in a four-month standoff with a military contractor that refuses to leave its reservation, according to documents recently filed in U.S. District Court.
The story begins in 2010, when the Eagle Rock Training Center (ERTC), a private military training facility established by a former Blackwater executive, signed a 25-year lease agreement to conduct high-level combat training on land near Warner Springs owned by the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeño Indians. The land approximated the terrain of Afghanistan, and ERTC hoped to train soldiers and law-enforcement officers in everything from explosives to combat-driving techniques. The camp would also function as a location for film and television productions.
But since June, Los Coyotes—a tribe of about 300 members—has been trying to boot the company off its land, claiming the lease was never valid. The conflict has since escalated to a series of showdowns, which ERTC alleges led to the arson that caused the 14,000-acre Eagle fire in July.
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