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 Pioneer Press, Fort Jones, California
 May 25, 2005Vol. 32, No. 31 Page A1, column 1

 Karuks try casino again

-- "Bottom line, it is reservation shopping," said Gary Lake.

By Liz Bowen

YREKA, Calif. – In a renewed bid to build a casino, leaders from the Karuk Tribe of California asked the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors for a letter of support on May 17.

To protect their tribal boundaries, leaders from the Shasta Nation also attended the meeting.

"We are opposing any letter of support," said Vice Chairman Gary Lake. "The Shasta Nation has lived here for thousands of years."

Lake cited a lawsuit from the 1920s, where the Karuk Tribe used the "Treaty Q," for credibility. "Treaty Q" was signed by U.S. Commissioners down at the junction of the Klamath and Trinity Rivers on Oct. 6 of 1851; and established Karuk territory recognized by the U.S. government down there.

"Treaty R" was signed with the Shasta Nation in Scott Valley by the same U.S. Commissioners in Nov. 4, 1851 and established the huge amount of Siskiyou area as territory that encompassed 4,000 Shasta Indians, according to the census taken at the time.

"Bottom line, it is reservation shopping," Lake told the county supervisors.

Siskiyou County Chief Officer of Administration, Howard Moody, proposed an alternate letter to the supervisors. One that would open negotiations with the Karuks and their renewed bid for a casino, if the land in question is determined to be legal and all federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act rules are met. At the end of the discussion the board voted to support Moody’s letter.

But first, chair of the board of supervisors, LaVada Erickson, said, "We need to understand who really has a right to build what – where?"

Erickson’s concern was voiced several times by other supervisors.

Jim Cook, supervisor for district 1, said that state Senator Sam Aanestad has suggested that an even-handed approach to all tribal entities should be taken and added, "I don’t think we are there."

The same debate is going on in the state capitol and Washington D.C.

A regulation under the federal Indian Gaming Regulation Act, established in 1988 by Congress, states that gaming or casinos can only be built on tribal land taken into trust before the 1988 Act was established.

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein D-Calif. has even tried to clarify the situations that now find tribes looking for areas away from their tribal territory to place a casino. This is has been dubbed "reservation shopping."

Feinstein has sponsored a bill that will require tribes to follow through with all the steps in the Indian Gaming Act.

"Off-reservation gaming was clearly not what the people of California voted for when they overwhelmingly passed proposition 1A in March 2000 to allow tribes in my state to engage in Nevada-style gaming on ‘tribal lands’," said Feinstein during testimony before the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee, this spring.

Chairman of the Karuk Tribe, Archie Super, explained to the county supervisors that his tribe is still in the process of working with the governments and the NIGC, which is the agency that oversees the Indian Gaming Act. He admitted that the Karuks have not been in the Scott Valley and Yreka area as long as the Shasta, but that his family moved from the Klamath River in 1908, because of jobs.

"We are here now," Super said.

But the territories were mapped and set in stone by the U.S. government 100 years ago.

During the meeting, Super explained, "we have trust land at the end of Sharps Road."

But Supervisor Marcia Armstrong questioned if the land was "held in trust for housing," which is a different land determination than trust land that can be used for Indian Gaming.

Gary Lake was allowed to respond regarding the trust land discussion, and said the NIGC gave the Karuks a "denial" on their land determination on Oct. 12, 2004, in their first bid to build a casino.

So several questions now linger: Why are the Karuk’s trying again and is there a different strategy planned to out maneuver the Indian Gaming rules?





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