The seal of the Enterprise Rancheria can be seen amid construction equipment at the groundbreaking of what was being called the "Fire Mountain Casino" in California on April 8, 2016. Photo courtesy Enterprise Rancheria

Enterprise Rancheria eyes 'Hard Rock Sacramento' after tribal homelands victory

The iconic Hard Rock brand could soon be coming to California's capital city.

According to Moody's Investors Service, the forthcoming "Hard Rock Sacramento" would be located on 40 acres held in trust for the Enterprise Rancheria. A subsidiary of Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment, Inc., which is owned by the Seminole Tribe, will develop and manage the facility, about 35 miles north of the capital.

"Hard Rock Sacramento is expected to open in October 2019," the June 20 note from Moody's reads.

The Enterprise Rancheria, however, is not ready to confirm whether the deal is final. Hard Rock's involvement was first reported by The Marysville Appeal-Democrat.

“We are moving ahead with preliminary steps to put the pieces together to get fully engaged in construction, Charles Altekruse, a spokesperson for the tribe, told the paper. "We are hoping to make a big announcement in the near future.”

Groundbreaking on what was being called the "Fire Mountain Casino" took place in Yuba County, California, on April 8, 2016. Photos courtesy Enterprise Rancheria

The potential announcement would come on the heels of the tribe's big legal victory. In a unanimous May 2 decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a slew of challenges to the tribe's land-into-trust application in Yuba County.

In approving the application during the Obama era, the Bureau of Indian Affairs "determined that Enterprise needed economic development; the Yuba site provides an opportunity for Enterprise to engage in that development," Judge Carlos T. Bea wrote in the 47-page ruling.

The drama isn't quite over, though. The Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun Indians, which operates the Colusa Casino Resort north of Sacramento, has asked the court to rehear the case, claiming "lack of consultation" about the rival development.

"The opinion failed to address and consider the legal significance of the fact that the Department of the Interior failed to consult with Colusa, as a nearby tribe that Interior knew would be adversely impacted by the proposed Enterprise project," the tribe's June 15 petition reads.

Indianz.Com on SoundCloud: Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun v. Zinke - 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

The Enterprise Rancheria initially broke ground on what it was calling the "Fire Mountain Casino" in April 2016. Litigation from the Cachil Dehe Band and the United Auburn Indian Community, another tribe with a Sacramento-area casino, put a halt to construction later that year.

Since then, at least seven federal appeals courts have sided with tribes in land-into-trust cases. Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court has confirmed that Congress can protect tribal homelands from litigation with its February 27 decision in Patchak v. Zinke.

Despite the wins, the Trump administration has proposed changes to the land-into-trust process that tribes say will make it impossible for them to restore their homelands. A top Republican appointee at Interior has even made reference to "bad court cases" and "complicated" litigation in defense of the controversial regulations.

"It is bad enough that we have opposition from every angle," Dore Bietz, a planner for the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians, said during a tribal consultation on the Fee-to-Trust Regulations (25 CFR 151) in Sacramento in January. The Tuolumne Band is part of the award-winning California Fee-to-Trust Consortium that has sought to improve processing of land-into-trust applications at the BIA.

"While you are here today," she said, speaking to John Tahsuda, a citizen of the Kiowa Tribe who serves as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at Interior and has been making references to litigation, "truly the process seems to be rushed and disingenuous."

Ironically, the Cachil Dehe Band claims a rule change during the George W. Bush era was unfair. A 2008 update to the so-called Section 20 gaming land regulations, which were finalized by a Republican official as he was departing the administration, prevented the tribe's concerns about the new casino from being considered, the petition for rehearing argues.

"Interior violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act by failing to consult with Colusa as a 'nearby tribe' during the six years that preceded the narrowing of the radius for mandatory consultation," the petition states.

Prior to the 2008 update, the BIA was required to consult tribes within a 50-mile radius of a new land-into-trust application. It's now been reduced to a 25-mile radius but the BIA still asked the Cachil Dehe Band participate in the Enterprise Rancheria process, according to the 9th Circuit's decision.

"Colusa never responded to the BIA’s letter," the decision read. "Nothing more was required of the BIA. It allowed Colusa, pursuant to the implementing regulations, to petition for consultation. Colusa chose not to do so."

If the 9th Circuit declines to rehear the case, the tribe could still petition the Supreme Court to review the matter.

Turtle Talk has posted documents from the case, Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun Indians of the Colusa Indian Community v. Zinke.

Read More on the Story:
Hard Rock involved in Oroville tribe’s Yuba casino plan (The Marysville Appeal-Democrat June 23, 2018)
Hard Rock International involved in casino site (The Marysville Appeal-Democrat June 22, 2018)

9th Circuit Court of Appeals Decision:
Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun Indians of the Colusa Indian Community v. Zinke (May 2, 2018)

Recent Appeals Court Decisions in Tribal Homelands Cases:
Butte County v. Chaudhuri [Challenge to Mechoopda Tribe] (April 13, 2018)
Stand Up for California! v. U.S. Department of the Interior [Challenge to North Fork Rancheria] (January 11, 2018)
Amador County v. Department of the Interior [Challenge to Buena Vista Rancheria] (November 27, 2017)
County of Amador v. Department of the Interior [Challenge to Ione Band of Miwok Indians (October 6, 2017)
No Casino in Plymouth v. Zinke [Challenge to Ione Band of Miwok Indians] (October 6, 2017)
Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon v. Jewell [Challenge to Cowlitz Tribe](July 29, 2016)

U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Patchak v. Zinke:
Syllabus | Judgment [Thomas] | Concurrence [Breyer] | Concurrence [Ginsburg] | Concurrence [Sotomayor] | Dissent [Roberts] | Full Document: Patchak v. Zinke

Tribal Leader Opinions on H.R.5079, the California Compact Protection Act:
Maryann McGovran: Don't be fooled by efforts of 'wealthy' tribes (5/13)
Claudia Gonzales: Off-reservation gaming fuels attacks on tribes (5/13)

Federal Register Notice:
Land Acquisitions; Enterprise Rancheria of Maidu Indians of California (December 3, 2012)

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Yet another federal appeals court backs restoration of tribal homelands (May 2, 2018)
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