Artist's rendering of the Wilton Rancheria's resort project in Elk Grove, Caifornia. Image: Wilton Rancheria

Wilton Rancheria scores another win in long-running fight over homelands

Opponents of the Wilton Rancheria are on the losing end of yet another ruling in federal court.

In a January 16 order, Judge Trevor McFadden rebuffed efforts to seek more documents from the federal government. The decision puts the tribe another step closer to opening a casino on its homelands in central California.

And even though McFadden had put the case on hold during the government shutdown, he indicated that he is ready to resolve it once and for all. In the order, he asked the parties to prepare for motions that would result in a final decision on the tribe's homelands.

The parties "shall file a status report with a proposed summary judgment briefing schedule no later than 20 days after Congress has restored appropriations to the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior," the order stated.

A deal announced in Washington, D.C., on Friday paves the way for the shutdown to end and for funding to be restored to those federal agencies that have gone without appropriations for more than a month.

Wilton Rancheria

Get to know the members and the history of Wilton Rancheria.

Posted by Wilton Rancheria on Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Wilton Rancheria on Facebook: 'Get to know the members and the history of Wilton Rancheria'

The tribe took the decision as another victory against a group called Stand Up for California and other opponents of the proposed casino. The lawsuit was filed two years ago this month.

"This is Stand Up's latest desperate attempt to delay or derail a project that will create thousands of jobs, tens of millions of dollars in revenue for the city and give our members a path to self-sufficiency," Chairman Raymond C. Hitchcock said in a press release. "Our tribe was landless for nearly six decades and, finally, we have the opportunity to create a brighter future for our children, grandchildren and generations to come."

The tribe has been without land ever since the termination era of the 1950s. It government-to-government relationship with the United States was also in limbo until the Bureau of Indian Affairs restored the tribe's federal recognition in 2009.

The situation further improved when the Bureau of Indian Affairs, on the last full day of the Obama administration in January 2017, issued a record of decision in favor of the tribe's land-into-trust application. The 36-acre site is located in the city of Elk Grove.

The land, located along a major highway, will be used for a casino. The would make it the closest Indian gaming facility to Sacramento, the state capital, which is about 20 miles away.

The tribe anticipates breaking ground. The $500 million development could be open by the end of 2020.

Read More on the Story
Lawsuit against Wilton Rancheria dismissed as casino plans 2019 start to construction (The Sacramento Bee January 25, 2019)
Court throws out another challenge to Elk Grove casino (The Sacramento Business Journal January 25, 2019)

Federal Register Notices
Adoption and Recirculation of the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Wilton Rancheria Fee-to-Trust and Casino Project (To Be Published September 14, 2018)
Indian Gaming; Tribal-State Class III Gaming Compacts Taking Effect in the State of California (January 22, 2018)
Final Environmental Impact Statement and a Revised Draft Conformity Determination for the Proposed Wilton Rancheria Fee-to-Trust and Casino Project, Sacramento County, California (December 14, 2016)
Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Wilton Rancheria Fee-to-Trust and Casino Project, Sacramento County, California (December 29, 2015)
Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Wilton Rancheria Fee-to-Trust and Casino Project, Sacramento County, California (December 4, 2013)

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