A sign proclaims Death Valley National Park in California as the "homeland of the Timbisha Shoshone." Restrictions on development in Death Valley have prompted the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe to seek economic opportunities elsewhere in the state. Photo: Judy Baxter

Those 'injuns': Timbisha Shoshone Tribe faces racism in casino bid

The Timbisha Shoshone Tribe continues to face vehement opposition to a proposed casino in California.

The tribe wants to open a casino in the city of Ridgecrest. The city has officially reached an agreement with the tribe and most city council members have been in favor of it.

But some remain strongly opposed. A group called the No Ridgecrest Casino Committee claims the project will lead to numerous social problems, including crime, in the community.

Then there's an email obtained by The Ridgecrest Daily Independent which indicates there is more to the story. It refers to the tribe as "injuns" and criticizes city council members who have supported the casino.

Whoever wrote the email said: "just under ‘compliance with city ordinances’ and ‘environmental review’ the injuns get to do whatever they f------ well please—pot farms, chinese spy ops, all-night traffic, trailer parks horizon to horizon, massive and completely unregulated water sales, 40-story whorehouses, untaxed gas, no-minimum-wage competition—and every criminal gets a free pass if it be-longs to the tribe," according to the paper.

It's not clear who wrote the email. But the paper notes that it was sent on the same day that the No Ridgecrest Casino Committee disseminated its own anti-casino email.

Some of the opposition can be traced to local church leaders, who have raised moral concerns about gambling. At a recent city council meeting, George Gholson, the tribe's chairman, said he "respects" religious objections, the paper reported.

He doesn't feel the same way about the issues raised by No Ridgecrest Casino Committee and by whoever sent out the "injuns" email.

"If you don’t like the casino because somebody is telling you its going to use a lot of water and we are going to grow marijuana in there, that’s stupid," Gholson said at the October 3 meeting, the paper reported.

Despite the opposition, key decisions on the casino will not be made in Ridgecrest. Instead, the tribe needs approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to have the land placed in trust.

The tribe believes the decision should be a simple one. The Timbisha Shoshone Homeland Act includes provisions that require the BIA to acquire certain lands.

The Trump administration, however, has yet to approve the tribe's land-into-trust application.

The tribe has a reservation in Death Valley National Park but has to look elsewhere for economic opportunities due to restrictions on development within the park, a federal facility.

The location of the proposed casino in Ridgecrest is more than 130 miles from tribal headquarters in Death Valley. The Timbisha Shoshone Homeland Act does not place a restriction on where the tribe can seek additional land except that any parcel must be "mutually agreed upon" between the tribe and the BIA.

Read More on the Story
Navy on TEIR: Casino not necessarily incompatible with base's mission (The Ridgecrest Daily Independent October 16, 2018)
Council candidates share views at forum Anti-casino conspiracy? A closer look (The Ridgecrest Daily Independent October 9, 2018)
Anti-casino conspiracy? A closer look (The Ridgecrest Daily Independent October 6, 2018)
Public comment turns into 'hellfire and brimstone' casino witch hunt (The Ridgecrest Daily Independent October 4, 2018)

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