COARSEGOLD, Calif., July 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. District Court Judge Anthony W. Ishii has ordered the State of California and the Las Vegas-backers of North Fork's proposed off-reservation casino to file a brief on whether a stay should be imposed on the Department of Interior's efforts to develop procedures allowing gaming on the Madera site while the courts work through a myriad of legal challenges and concerns about North Fork's off-reservation gaming plan.
Judge Ishii, in his June 27 order, also granted the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians authority to brief the same issues as amicus curiae (friend of the of court).
"What is being attempted by the billionaire owners of Station Casinos is shameful; they are attempting to buy the sovereignty of a Tribe," Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians Tribal Chairwoman Claudia Gonzales said. "We will continue to fight to keep Tribal sovereignty in the hands of Tribal Nations."
There are numerous legal proceedings currently underway challenging the Station Casinos-backed, off-reservation casino plan. Earlier this year, the Chukchansi Tribe filed an action, Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians v. Edmund G, Brown, Governor of California, challenging the validity of Governor Brown's concurrence with the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior's determination to allow land in Madera County to be placed into trust for the North Fork Rancheria Band of Mono Indians for casino gaming.
And on July 1, Chuckchansi filed another action, Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians v. Untied States Department of the Interior, Sally M. Jewell Secretary of the Interior; and Lawrence S. Roberts, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs, seeking an injunction to stop the Department of the Interior from taking any action under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) to allow North Fork to proceed due to questions about the eligibly of the Madera site for gaming, the validity of the "two-step" process the Secretary used to qualify the Madera site as tribal lands, and how those issues affect the status of the compact between North Fork and the State of California.
"These legal actions are required because North Fork's backers are ignoring existing law and the will of California's voters who overwhelmingly rejected the plan just a few years ago," Gonzales said. "Judge Ishii's order is a good indication that our concerns about the North Fork Plan, which are shared by tribes throughout the state, are valid and of real concern to the court."
The North Fork compact, which was rejected by 61 percent of California voters (Proposition 48 in 2014), would have allowed Las Vegas-style casino gaming at a 305 acre site nearly 50 miles away from the North Fork Reservation. Since that rejection by the voters, those supporting North Fork have negotiated with Federal and State authorities to revive their defeated plan.
"We will pursue all options to prevent these billionaires from buying tribal sovereignty and sneaking around state and federal laws and the will of the voters," Gonzales said. "We will fight to ensure that Tribal gaming regulations respect real Tribal sovereignty and prevent the proliferation of off-reservation gaming in the state."
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SOURCE Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians