Chukchansi Tribe enters another month without casino revenue

The Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino in Coarsegold, California. Photo from Facebook

The Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians in California is entering the six month of life without gaming.

A dispute among rival factions led to the closure of the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino on October 10, 2014. More than 1,000 people were put out of work amid a squabble that appears to be linked to a long-running disenrollment effort.

After being restored to federal recognition in the 1980s, the tribe's membership was around 1,800, Valley Public Radio reported last month. But in the years following the opening of the casino, the rolls have been cut in half.

"My uncle was honored as an elder at the powwow and a week later got a letter saying he was no longer a member," Chris Ballew, whose family was disenrolled in 2012, told National Public Radio.

Critics point the finger at leaders like Nancy Ayala, who serves as co-chair of one of the councils on the reservation. They believe she wants to reduce the membership even further, a charge she does not outright appear to be denying.

"If we could tackle that and figure out how people fit in, where they fit in, do you belong - if we could figure that out, we would be a power to be reckoned with," Ayala told NPR.

Tribal members receive a monthly per capita check of about $900, according to NPR. Further disenrollments could increase the payment to around $17,000, NPR said.

Get the Story:
Millions At Stake In California Tribe Membership Dispute (NPR 4/5)

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