COARSEGOLD, Calif., April 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Interior's Interior Board of Indian Appeals today reaffirmed the leadership of the on-rancheria ruling Tribal Council of the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians by rejecting an appeal filed by Reggie Lewis, the head of a rogue faction falsely claiming to lead the Chukchansi Tribe. In rejecting the Lewis appeal—and rejecting a request by Amy Dutschke, the BIA's regional Director for the Pacific region, to make her February 2014 opinion effective immediately—the IBIA dealt yet another blow to Lewis's fading hopes of grabbing control of the Chukchansi Tribe.
In staying Dutschke's decision, which only applied to the negotiation of certain contracts between the Tribe and the federal government, the IBIA left in place the Tribe's current on-rancheria government, which Vice Chair Tex McDonald (the acting Chairman); Treasurer Vernon King; Secretary Lynda Appling; Members-at-Large Charles Sargosa, Donna Featherstone and Amanda Ramirez; and Chair Nancy Ayala (currently suspended). It's this Council that runs the Tribe's government operations, including its casino and resort, from offices on the Rancheria.
Writing for the IBIA, Chief Administrative Judge Steven K. Linscheid admonished the Lewis group for its threat of violence in their briefing papers. Explained Judge Linscheid: "The Lewis/Reid faction argues—disturbingly—that its own members … may be willing to create further instability and possibly engage in conduct that could lead to violence," if their appeal is not granted immediately. Regardless, Judge Linscheid rejected the Lewis appeal, writing that "the Regional Director and the Lewis/Reid faction have not made clear and convincing arguments that placing the Decision into immediate effect will preserve public safety."
"Again, the Lewis faction wastes our people's money, energy and time with their foolish lawyering and selfishness—and again they've lost," said Acting Chairman Tex McDonald. "While they sit in their glass tower in Fresno thinking of new ways to sabotage our Tribe, the on-rancheria Tribal Council continues to run the casino and resort and provide services to our people. You have to wonder when the Lewis faction will get the message—that they're not in charge."
Treasurer Vernon King echoed McDonald's satisfaction with the ruling. "There is no emergency here on the rancheria and no risk to the public—except for the threats made by the Lewis group, as the Judge noted. Our Council is confident we will win this appeal, as we have continued to win in Court in ruling after ruling. The proof can be seen every day, when we come to work to do the business of the Chukchansi people."
Said Council Secretary Lynda Appling: "It's a shame the Lewis group is so intent on hurting their people and our Tribe's businesses. Their greed and legal mumbo jumbo has cost our Tribe millions of dollars. But our Council is determined to protect our people as we move forward. We will not back down."
SOURCE Chukchansi Tribal Council