From the Associated Press by Sundin Thanawala and reprinted by the Arizona Republic on October 12, 2014. This article was too relevant to ignore and so it is offered below with a few interspersed comments: The article, California tribe’s casino plan to go before voters, is from San Francisco.
“A Native American tribe’s plan for a Las Vegas-style casino in Central Valley (make that Glendale) nearly 40 miles (change that to 100 miles) from its reservation has drawn opposition from other casino-owning tribes in the state.
“The voters now will weigh in on whether the North Fork Rancheria Band of Mono Indians (insert Tohono O’odham) are ‘reservation shopping,’ as their critics contend, or taking land that was part of their historical territory, as the tribes maintains.
“A referendum on the November ballot asks voters to approve or reject a deal signed by the governor and passed by the state Legislature that would allow the North Fork Rancheria to build a casino with up to 2,000 slot machines ( change to nearly 1,100 slot machines), on a 305-acre (132 acres) plot of land along a major highway (the Loop 101 Freeway) about 30 miles (5 miles) northwest of Fresno (Phoenix).
“With a yes vote, the project would clear its last major hurdle to entering the state’s Indian gambling market, where 58 tribes (21 tribes) are currently running 59 (28) casinos, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.
“Critics of the proposal say the tribes is trying to get closer to an urban market that can bring in more gamblers.”
“ ‘This move by North Fork, if it goes forward, will incentivize tribes in rural areas to move to more-lucrative locations,’ said Cheryl Schmit, director of the group Stand Up For California.
“Representatives of the 2,000-member North Fork tribe counter that their existing land is for housing and does not allow gambling and that they went through a lengthy vetting process to get approval for the new land.
“ ‘We’re getting back to the historical land that serves as a reservation for our tribes in the 1850’s,’ said Charles Banks-Altekruse, a spokesman for the tribe, which is being supported by Las Vegas-based Station Casinos.
“Additionally, tribal officials say, the project would create more than 4,500 (change to 6,000) jobs and pump tens of millions of dollars into the local economy.
“Opposition to North Fork’s proposal is coming from other casino-owning tribes, including Table Mountain Rancheria (Gila River Indian Community and the Salt River-Pima-Maricopa Indian Community) whose casino is about 25 miles (20 miles) from the proposed site of the North Fork facility (Tohono O’odham’s Glendale site).
“The campaign against the project is also being funded by New York-based Brigade Capital Management, an investment firm that backs the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino, another Indian casino near the site of the proposed North Fork casino.
“Under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, tribes can build casinos on reservations that existed before Oct. 17, 1988, but not on lands taken into trust after that date (except in Arizona). The law allows the Interior secretary to make an exception in cases where the off-reservations acquisition is in the tribe’s best interest (not proven for Tohono O’odham) and does not hurt the surrounding community (which it will).”
These situations are eerily similar with one major exception. The referendum was not blocked in California and so the voters will have the final say. Not so in Glendale. Glendale has blocked the referendum petitions and the matter is now a court case and a judge will decide whether Glendale voters can determine their own fate.
© Joyce Clark,
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