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The Pioneer Press at the very top of the State of California grants permission for this article to be copied and forwarded.


Pioneer Press, Fort Jones, California  Vol. 33, No. 21  Page A1, column 2


Alturas Casino in Yreka:


Rules needed for reservation shopping -- Indian Gaming in the spotlight again.


By Liz Bowen, Pioneer Press Assistant Editor, Fort Jones, California

SISKIYOU COUNTY – Some tribes are being enticed by gaming management companies and investors to find land that is located far from existing reservation land or aboriginal lands to conduct gaming and exploit more favorable markets, according to Citizens Against Reservation Shopping, called CARS.

As a result, several local groups joined with CARS in petitioning the Secretary of the Department of Interior to develop formal rules on land acquisitions for Indian Gaming.

The expanding coalition acknowledges that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, called IGRA, provides the federal authority to locate gambling facilities on Indian lands throughout the nation. But the coalition claims that the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC), which oversees Indian Gaming, has no authority to make “restored lands” decisions.

Accordingly the coalition states that the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which is also an agency under the Department of Interior, has not established official standards regarding regulations that govern applications for “restored lands.”

The two Siskiyou groups stepping up to the table are Siskiyou Citizens Against Reservation Shopping and National Land Rights League, Inc.

Recently, leaders of Siskiyou Citizens Against Reservation Shopping provided information to the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors, which showed that the Alturas Indian Rancheria began building a casino on non-reservation lands just south of Yreka. The land in question is in Shasta Nation territory and is not part of the Alturas Rancheria’s reservation in Modoc County – a five hour drive from Yreka in Siskiyou County.

Within the last two weeks, the Alturas Rancheria has received letters of warning from the NIGC and California’s governor, because Alturas has not followed the Indian Gaming rules. The land in question, where the casino is being built, is not “restored lands” and the “trust” allotment is still in probate. No one holds the title free and clear.

Many decisions regarding the applicability of “restored lands” by tribes has been “fraught with controversy and confusion and undermined the public’s faith in the federal decision-making process,” states Siskiyou Citizens Against Reservation Shopping.

Local governments and communities throughout the nation have been frustrated with a lack of uniformity in the “restored lands” and “trust” lands decisions, say leaders of the local Siskiyou ad-hoc committee Karol Purcell, Kathy Varnell and George Webb.

Jim Foley, president of National Land Rights League, Inc. said his group definitely supports the petition and quickly signed-on.

Cheryl Schmit, of Stand Up for California, said “Californians have experienced the conflicting manner in which the Bureau of Indian Affairs makes decisions on trust lands for tribal casino projects.”

She explains that her organization is not against economic progress of California’s native peoples, but believes rules must be followed.

“Regulatory rules must be established to clarify a process, which is inclusive, objective and fair,” Schmit said.

It should be noted that a provision was made at the state level, which provides $1.1 million a year to each non-gaming tribe in California.

In 2005, there were 70 tribes in California each receiving $1.1 million a year. This included the Alturas Indian Rancheria, which operates a 99-slot casino on its reservation in Alturas. There are rules that define non-gaming tribes. The Alturas is able to meet the criteria, because a tribe must operate a casino with 350-slots or more to be considered a “gaming” tribe, which the Alturas does not.

In 2005, the Alturas had five adult tribal members on its rolls.

Other organizations in CARS include Stand Up for California; One Nation United based in Oklahoma City, Okla.; Stand Up For Clark County Citizens in La Center, Wash.; and American Land Rights Association in Battle Ground, Wash.

For more information regarding the petition, contact Schmit at (916) 663-3207.




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