Law | Politics

Leadership of Chukchansi Tribe appears solid after IBIA decision

The Chukchansi Nature Trail is located on the Picayune Rancheria in California. Photo from Facebook

The leadership of the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians in California appears to be on solid ground after the Interior Board of Indian Appeals issued another ruling in the long-running dispute.

In February 2014, the Bureau of Indian Affairs recognized an "interim council" in order to continue working with the tribe. Rival groups disputed the decision but the IBIA dismissed all four of those challenges for varying reasons.

As the case was proceeding, some of the rivals agreed to a new election. Tribal members chose a new council last October and while that vote was not at issue before the IBIA, the decision notes that two groups essentially mooted their challenges by agreeing to work together.

"In the present case, while these appeals were pending, Ayala reconciled with Lewis, and the Lewis-Reid Council, supported by Ayala’s declaration, represented to the [IBIA] that it would make no difference whether BIA recognized the 2010 Council, the 2012 Council, or the Lewis-Reid Council, because all were working together under a 'Unification Council' umbrella," the decision states, referring to Nancy Ayala, Reggis Lewis and Morris Reid, who were part of the interim council recognized by the BIA in 2014.

Reid retained his seat on the council during last October's election, the results of which paved the way for the reopening of the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino on New Year's Eve. The facility closed in October 2014 after rival factions clashed there.

Get the Story:
Federal judge dismisses appeals on Chukchansi tribal government (The Fresno 1/31)

Interior Board of Indian Appeals Decisions:
Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians (Ayala Quorum Council and McDonald Council), Citizens and Hardwick Members of the Picayune Rancheria, Patrick Hammond III, and Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians (Lewis-Reid Council) v. Pacific Regional Director, Bureau of Indian Affairs (January 22, 2016)
Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians v. BIA (February 9, 2015)

Related Stories:
Chukchansi Tribe hosts a big celebration for reopening of casino (01/15)
Chukchansi Tribe finally reopens casino after 14-month closure (01/04)
Chukchansi Tribe confirms IRS summons into economic arm (08/18)
Once rival factions of Chukchansi Tribe agree to 2015 election (08/27)
Rival factions unite in takeover attempt within Chukchansi Tribe (08/26)

Join the Conversation