Gaming decisions meet opposition from other California tribes

The Obama administration brought good news to two California tribes last week but their casino plans are stirring controversy at home.

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.

In both cases, the Bureau of Indian Affairs said the casinos would be in the tribes' best interests and would not be detrimental to the surrounding community. Both tribes have local support.

But other tribes aren't pleased. They say the Enterprise Rancheria and the North Fork Rancheria should stick to their aboriginal territory.

"The decision by the U.S. Department of the Interior is disappointing because it helps validate a horribly flawed policy that allows tribes to build casinos away from their aboriginal territory simply for economic gain," Doug Elmets, a spokesperson for several tribes in northern California with existing casinos, told The Chico News-Review.

“For years, this project has been vehemently opposed by local, state and federal officials and Mr. Echo Hawk has received dozens of letters from elected officials to that effect," Reggie Lewis, the chairman of the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians, said in a statement. "For Mr. Echo Hawk to now claim that North Fork has ‘historical connections’ to the proposed gaming site is just not true — and he knows that.”

According to a fact sheet, the BIA considered the concerns about the North Fork casino but determined the project would not hurt the Picayune Rancheria's existing casino.

Both proposals have been sent to Gov. Jerry Brown (D) for his review. He has a year to concur, or reject, the BIA's decisions.

Get the Story:
Feds OK Enterprise Rancheria’s plans near Marysville (The Chico News-Review 9/8)
Chukchansi blast fed's Madera casino OK (The Business Journal 9/8)

Related Stories:
Echo Hawk issues casino decisions for three tribes in California (9/2)