Gabriel Ray: Scotts Valley Band working to re-establish homeland

A tribal gathering. Photo by Scotts Valley TANF Gabriel Ray, the chairman of the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians, addresses criticism about the tribe's plans for a $700 million casino in northern California:
Seventeen months ago, on May 15, 2015, we met with city officials to discuss our intentions to purchase a 128-acre parcel of undeveloped land adjacent to Interstate 80 on the perimeters of the City of Vallejo. After the land purchase was finalized in March 2016, we promptly notified the mayor’s office and the Solano County Board of Supervisors.

On Jan. 29, we requested an Indian Lands Opinion from the Department of the Interior to see if the Vallejo property would be eligible for tribal-government gaming under federal law. We have been criticized for not filing this request along with our Fee-to-Trust application. We had been hoping for a quick opinion because, if the decision was negative, we simply did not want to waste anyone’s time or taxpayer money on the process. The Indian Lands Opinion is the first step in a very long process and one that we knew would include extensive opportunities for public input along the way.

That process begins with the Fee-to-Trust application, which we filed on Aug. 11. Within eight days of filing this application, our representatives contacted the Vallejo City Manager and the City Attorney for the purposes of establishing an open and transparent process that would include opportunities for the city, county, and our neighbors in the surrounding communities to weigh in at various stages of the process.

As part of the application, the Department of the Interior conducts a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (which will include community organizations and local municipalities) to assess all potential impacts of our planned use of the property on the surrounding communities and develop enforceable plans together with those communities for mitigating those potential impacts.

While we understand the initial concerns that people have about wanting to weigh in on the process earlier rather than later, it is important to note that we didn’t create this process, but rather we are subject to it as well.

Read More on the Story:
Gabriel Ray: Looking to be good neighbors (The Vallejo Times-Herald 11/30)

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