North Fork Rancheria sues California for off-reservation casino

Artist's rendering of the proposed North Fork Rancheria casino. Image from North Fork EISt

The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians sued the state of California on Tuesday over an off-reservation casino that has failed to take flight.

The tribe and the state signed a Class III gaming compact for the casino but voters rejected it at the polls last November. The tribe then asked to negotiate another agreement but the state is refusing to come to the table, according to the lawsuit.

"By refusing to honor the existing compact and refusing to negotiate to enter into a new tribal-state gaming compact, the state has breached its obligation" to deal in good faith, the tribe argues in the complaint.

The tribe is asking the court to order the state to negotiate, a process that could include mediation. But if that fails, the tribe argues that it is entitled to Class III gaming procedures from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The suit joins two other cases in federal court regarding the project. The Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians, whose leaders oppose the North Fork casino, and Stand Up For California are suing the federal government over the land-into-trust application and the compact that were approved by the BIA.

Those cases have been consolidated in federal court in Washington, D.C., Courthouse News reported. The Chukchansi Tribe filed a brief on Monday even as its casino remains closed for the fifth straight month.

Additionally, the Enterprise Rancheria is suing California over its delayed off-reservation casino. The tribe signed a compact but it was never approved by the state Legislature.

But Gov. Jerry Brown (D) is not willing to negotiate any new deals. A letter from his "Senior Advisor for Tribal Negotiations" to the North Fork Rancheria indicates that off-reservation gaming is too controversial in the state.

Turtle Talk has posted documents from the case in federal court in DC, Stand Up For California v. Department of the Interior.

Get the Story:
Tribe Takes on State in Quest for Casino (Courthouse News Service 3/18)

Federal Register Notices:
Indian Gaming (October 22, 2013)
Land Acquisitions; North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians of California (December 3, 2012)

Bureau of Indian Affairs Documents:
Press Release | Fact Sheet: North Fork Rancheria Decision | Section 20 Determination: North Fork Rancheria

Related Stories
Rivals spent $18M to oppose North Fork off-reservation casino (02/03)
Court won't review decision favoring North Fork Rancheria casino (01/16)
Editorial: Don't let North Fork Rancheria proceed with casino plan (01/05)

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