Chukchansi Tribe still trying to block North Fork Rancheria casino

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

A 14-month casino shutdown hasn't made the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians more sympathetic to the gaming dreams of one of its fellow California tribes.

The Picayune Rancheria has long been an opponent of the off-reservation casino sought by the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians. Despite losing a lawsuit against the project, the Chukchansi are once again suing Gov. Jerry Brown (D).

"We are pursuing all of our options – legal and legislative – to make sure that this new North Fork casino plan does not go forward," Picayune Chairwoman Claudia Gonzales said in a press release.

The lawsuit was filed in Madera County Superior Court on March 18. It challenges Brown's 2012 concurrence with the Bureau of Indian Affairs decision to approve the North Fork Rancheria casino.

The North Fork Rancheria has an office in North Fork, California. Photo from Facebook

The Chukchansis already sued Brown for that same concurrence in a lawsuit that was put to an end over a year ago. It's not clear why they believe they can succeed this time but the tribe points out that state voters rejected the North Fork Rancheria's Class III gaming compact at the polls in November 2014.

The Chukchansis financed Proposition 48, the ballot initiative against the compact. The vote came one month after they were forced to shut down the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino due to a leadership dispute on the reservation.

The tribe lost millions of dollars in revenues and more than 1,000 were put out of work. The facility finally reopeend on New Year's Eve after compliance and other issues were resolved to the satisfaction of the National Indian Gaming Commission.

Chukchansi Gold is located in Coarsegold. The North Fork Rancheria casino would be located about 38 miles away on a 305-acre site that has been placed in trust by the BIA.

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

The North Fork Rancheria won a big decision last November when a federal judge ruled that Gov. Brown failed to engage in "good faith" talks as required by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. A mediator was appointed in January and, after hearing from both sides, Zela G. Claiborne selected the compact presented by the tribe, according to document filed by the tribe in a different lawsuit. The state has until April 11 to respond.

The BIA approved the North Fork Rancheria casino under the two-part determination provisions of IGRA.

Get the Story:
Tribe tells governor to stop rival casino development (Central Valley Business Times 3/24)

California Court of Appeal Decision:
Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians v. Brown (September 24, 2014)

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

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North Fork Rancheria sues California for off-reservation casino (03/18)
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