Timbisha Shoshone Tribe moves one step forward with casino bid

Supporters of a proposed casino start to gather for a city council meeting in Ridgecrest, California, on May 18, 2016. Photo by Doris Hobson via Ridgecrest Timbisha Casino Working Group

After five meetings and countless hours of discussion, the city council in Ridgecrest, California, agreed to work with the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe on a casino agreement.

The 4-1 vote came after a five and half hour meeting on Wednesday, The Ridgecrest Daily Independent reported. The city will now negotiate the exact terms of the municipal agreement with the tribe.

"Thank you Ridgecrest!!!!!!' Chairman George Gholson wrote on Facebook on Thursday. "I want to thank the Tribal council for all the time that was put in at Ridgecrest getting this done. There are not enough words to convey the gratitude that I have for the people who helped with their time and effort in supporting this effort. Thank you city council for enduring this process."

The tribe is promising about $400,000 a year for city services plus a one-time payment of $80,000. The agreement would run for 20 years.

The tribe plans to open a casino at a site near the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. A land-into-trust application will be submitted to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The tribe has a reservation in Death Valley National Park but it has to look elsewhere for economic development due to restrictions there.

The Timbisha Shoshone Homeland Act requires the BIA to place certain lands in trust but in the event a particular parcel in Nevada can't be acquired, the law says a "another parcel mutually agreed upon" by the tribe and the federal government can be placed in trust.

Additional information about the project can be found in an agenda and a supplemental agenda from last month.

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Council approves Casino MSA four to one (The Ridgecrest Daily Independent 5/19)
Casino, MSA on city council agenda (The Ridgecrest Daily Independent 5/19)

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