Chemehuevi Tribe sees room for second off-reservation casino

A sign at the site in Barstow, California, where Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians wants to build an off-reservation casino. Photo from Barstow Casino and Resort

The Chemehuevi Tribe is striking a more cooperative tone as it revives plans for an off-reservation casino in Barstow, California.

The tribe has long questioned whether Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians can demonstrate an ancestral connection to the area. In a recent opinion piece published in The Desert Dispatch, Chairman Charles Wood reiterated those concerns.

Wood said the Chemehuevis "are one of only three federally recognized tribes who have ancestral, historical ties to Barstow and the larger Barstow area."

But in a local meeting on Monday night, Wood said both tribes can co-exist in Barstow. He urged residents to support two off-reservation casinos in a city that's been open to the idea.

"Competition makes you better," Wood said, the Dispatch reported. "Two casinos would work with the amount of traffic that goes through Barstow."

The Los Coyotes Band is still waiting on the Bureau of Indian Affairs to approve plans for the $160 million Barstow Casino and Resort. The environmental impact statement was released in April 2014 but there's no timeline for a decision.

If the BIA approves, though, the process isn't over. Under the two-part determination provisions of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the governor will have veto authority over the project.

The Chemehuevi Tribe also plans to pursue its casino under the two-part determination process. The tribe already owns 40 acres in Barstow, the Dispatch reported.

The two-part determination process does not require tribes to demonstrate ancestral ties to a proposed gaming site.

Get the Story:
Barstow urged to double casino odds (The Desert Dispatch 8/19)

Federal Register Notice:
Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Proposed Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeňo Indians 23-Acre Fee-to-Trust Transfer and Casino-Hotel Project, City of Barstow, San Bernardino County, California (April 18, 2014)

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