Echo Hawk issues casino decisions for three tribes in California

The Obama administration brought good news and bad news for three California tribes seeking to build casinos.

Assistant Secretary Larry Echo Hawk approved land-into-trust applications for the Enterprise Rancheria and the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians. Both tribes are seeking to build casinos on land that is currently not part of a reservation.

"Our responsibility under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act is clear: we must review each application on a case by case basis and determine whether it meets the standards outlined in law and regulation,” Echo Hawk said in a press release.

“Following a careful and thorough review of the applications from the Enterprise Rancheria and the North Fork Rancheria tribes, I have determined that both tribes’ applications meet the strong standards under the law. Both tribes have historical connections to the proposed gaming sites, and both proposals have strong support from the local community, which are important factors in our review."

According to a fact sheet from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Enterprise gaming site is about 36 miles from tribal headquarters. The North Fork site is also about 36 miles from its headquarters, the BIA said.

In both cases, Echo Hawk said the casino would be in the best interests of the tribe and would not be detrimental to the surrounding community. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has a year to concur or disagree with each assessment, after which the BIA can place the land in trust for the tribes.

The Guidville Band also sought a casino away from an existing reservation. According to a fact sheet, the BIA determined that the tribe lacked a modern and historical connection to the site, which is about 108 miles from its headquarters.

“The Guidiville Band’s application did not satisfy many of the requirements to develop a gaming facility at that particular site," Echo Hawk said in a press release.

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