Chukchansi Tribe accused of illegal vote and casino preparations

The Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino in Coarsegold, California, has been closed since October 9, 2014. Photo from Facebook

The Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians was forced to shut down its casino in northern California a year ago this week and the dispute doesn't appear any closer to being resolved.

The Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino has been under the control of an "interim council" on the reservation. Its leaders have hosted job fairs, reached a financing deal and hired key employees and regulators in hopes of reopening the facility.

But a rival faction claims all of those activities are illegal, The Fresno Bee reported. A motion was filed in federal court on behalf of a group that claims to represent the only true members of the tribe.

"These activities have caused a heightened tension between the governing factions and could or may lead to further hostility among tribal members who support differing factions," the group stated in a motion posted online by the paper.

An election held over the weekend is also illegal, the motion claims. A faction led by Morris Reid swept all seven seats on the council amid a dispute over people who are being disenrolled from the tribe.

"Irrelevant of the lack of notification, any tribal election will, as mentioned will be tainted as the so-called 2010 Tribal Council has allegedly voted to grant 2010 disenrolled members the right to vote and many of the candidates that will be running for office have been sanctioned and are not eligible to run for office," the group's motion stated.

According to the group, the tribe only consists of people who are linked to a termination-era roll and who were granted allotments. Under that definition, only 46 adult members should be enrolled, The Bee reported.

After the tribe was restored to federal recognition, membership grew too about 1,800, Valley Public Radio reported in March. But after the casino opened, the rolls have been cut down to about half that number.

Get the Story:
Preparation to reopen Chukchansi casino violates court order, tribal group says (The Fresno Bee 10/7)
Faction sweeps Chukchansi election (The Sierra Star 10/7)

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