Rival Tribes Opposed To North Fork Casino Project
The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians is questioning the decision by rival tribes to involve the Congress in a dispute over its proposal to build a new casino on land that is not part of the reservation.
The project proposed which is to be located in a 305-acre site in Madera County in California has been mired in controversy from the beginning as competing tribes have steadfastly opposed it. States voters also rejected the casino’s compact that the state had agreed to in Proposition 48 referendum held in 2014.
However a federal court found California Governor Jerry Brown to have not acted in good faith by not returning for discussions with the tribe on formulating a new compact. The court appointed a mediator who approved a new compact suggested by the tribe. The state’s response to it is awaited.
The rival tribes are now reported to be working with Rep. Doug LaMalfa to stop the project which has alarmed the North Fork Rancheria.
In a statement, Chairwoman Maryann McGovran said
Every tribal leader across the nation should be deeply concerned about the principle being suggested by this effort, namely allowing the legislatures and citizens of all 50 states to weigh in on tribal rights, application of laws differently among tribes and that established federal gaming law … should be jeopardized to protect a few tribes from potential competition.
The office of Congressman LaMalfa has acknowledged that it is working on issue stating that that he and a large number of the California delegates were meeting regularly to examine the issue. Earlier legislative attempts to block new casinos have been largely unsuccessful in California.
The tribes objecting to the North Fork Rancheria’s casino are the Colusa Indian Community, the Mooretown Rancheria tribe and the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians. The Colusa Indian Community and the Mooretown Rancheria tribes operate a casino each in northern California, Colusa Casino and the Feather Falls Casino and Lodge which are located around 200 miles from the new site. The Picayune Rancheria runs a casino closer to the site which is the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino in Coarsegold. The casino is situated around 36 miles from the proposed site.
The North Fork Rancheria casino project underwent the two-part determination process required under Indian Gaming Regulatory Act to ensure that the project was not unfavorable to neighboring casinos. The Bureau of Indian Affairs which carried out the process arrived at the decision that none of the casinos would be harmed by the new casino.
It is interesting to note that although the rival tribes have filed lawsuits against the state for approving the casino, none of them have challenged the BIA’s decision.
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