Ruffey Rancheria federal recognition bill being changed amid casino fears

A bill to restore federal recognition to the Ruffey Rancheria is being amended after fears were raised about a casino, including some from a tribe with an existing facility.

H.R.3535, the Ruffey Rancheria Restoration Act, will authorize gaming only on the tribe's original rancheria and in nearby areas, The Ashland Daily Tidings reported, citing the top staffer to the member of Congress who introduced the bill. And Chairman Tahj Gomes said the tribe, which is based in northern California, has no intention on seeking a casino in neighboring Oregon.

“We are a Californian tribe, and we don’t have any territorial claim in Oregon,” Gomes told the paper. He said the Consolidated Tribes of Siletz Indians, which operates an existing casino in Oregon and has proposed a new one, had raised concerns.

The Consolidated Tribes of Siletz Indians own and operate the Chinook Winds Casino Resort in Lincoln City, Oregon. Photo: DanOCan

The House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs took testimony on H.R.3535 last September. It has not yet been considered at a markup, which is when an amendment would typically be brought up.

Were the bill to become law, the rancheria that was set aside for the original residents would be placed in trust so the tribe could build a casino there. The tribe would also be able to seek other lands and engage in gaming on them so long as it can demonstrate "substantial" aboriginal and modern connections to those lands, according to the text of H.R.3535 as introduced.

The chief of staff for Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-California), the sponsor of the bill, told The Daily Tidings that the forthcoming amendment would clarify those provisions.

“We are working on an amendment to restrict the legislation in Eastern Siskiyou County only,” the staffer told the paper.

The Ruffey Rancheria was terminated by an act of Congress. Its reservation was located near the city of Etna, in the eastern part of the county.

The federally recognized Karuk Tribe is opening the Rain Rock Casino in Yreka, about 30 miles north of Etna.

Read More on the Story:
Tribal chairman: Casino in Ashland won’t happen (The Ashlan Daily Tidings April 5, 2018)

House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Notice:
Legislative Hearing on 3 Tribal Recognition Bills (September 26, 2017)

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