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Shasta Indian Nation claims Siskiyou County as its aboriginal land.

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
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Vol. 32, No. 46
Page A1, column 1

 Shasta Tribe claims land

-- This is Shasta aboriginal territory and since 1851, we have been encroached upon. – Roy Hall Jr. of Fort Jones, California

By Liz Bowen, assistant editor, Pioneer Press

YREKA, CALIFORNIA – For 153 years the Shasta Indian Nation has endured injustices from the United States government and people.

A treaty signed by Shasta Tribal chiefs on Nov. 4, 1851 was never ratified by congress. Army soldiers poisoned many tribal members soon after the treaty signing; and then marauding whites slaughtered those still living in surrounding villages. These are facts from historical documents.

But the tribe has survived and members can trace their lineage back to the few Shastas that lived through the atrocities.

Now this local tribe that was once so huge, it once encompassed most of Siskiyou County and several Oregon counties, is being encroached by neighboring tribes.

It has came to the Shasta Council’s attention that the Karuk Tribe of California is attempting to place a casino within the limits of the City of Yreka.

There are regulations governing Indian Gaming

According to an Indian Gaming law, casinos and gambling can only occur on reservation land or land purchased before 1988, by the aboriginal tribe.

"Their original territory, backed-up by government documents, shows the Karuks went from Clear Creek down to Bluff Creek. That is all below Happy Camp," said Shasta Tribal Council Chairman, Roy Hall Jr.

By the Karuk’s own maps, their aboriginal land was based down the Klamath River not in the Scott or Shasta Rivers or valleys. Yreka is not in their territory, added Chairman Hall.

When a four-acre parcel of land was returned to the Karuk Tribe in January of 1996, the tribe said it was located in the center of the ancient Karuk village of Katimin, which is below Happy Camp near Somes Bar, where the Salmon River reaches the Klamath. The land was confiscated, by the federal government, from a man who was cultivating marijuana. U.S. Attorney Janet Reno said that the "land once used by a criminal who flaunted the law will be returned to those native peoples who hold it sacred."

Setting the record straight

So Chairman Hall finds it ironic that on November 17, 2003, the Karuk Tribe sent a letter to the Department of Interior, which governs Indian Affairs, and complained about another tribe that is planning a casino near Yreka.

Hall explained that the Karuks brought up the legal reasons why a tribe from outside this area should not be allowed to place a casino. And those are the same reasons why the Karuks should not be allowed to place a casino in Yreka.

"This is Shasta aboriginal territory," reiterated Hall.

The Shasta Nation recently sent a letter to the City of Yreka explaining the dispute and asked the city council to stop negotiations with a tribe that does not have legal status to the land under national Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The city council has not signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Karuk Council, according to Brian Meek, the city manager, but discussions have been ongoing for at least two years.

Two tribes have proposed casinos in Shasta territory

Last month, Chairman Hall also sent a letter to the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors, regarding an attempt by the Alturas Indian Rancheria to build a casino just outside of the Yreka City limits. The Alturas Rancheria group is aboriginal to Modoc County to the east of Siskiyou County.

"We request that all negotiations cease until such time that the Alturas Tribe can provide substantive evidence of indigenous territory in Siskiyou County," said Chairman Hall, who believes they cannot prove such.

On an updated list regarding casino proposals in the State of California, both the Alturas Rancheria and the Karuk Tribe are planning casinos near or in the City of Yreka.

Alturas Indian Rancheria is for real

During the last three years, Darren Rose of Anderson, California has purchased $4 million worth of land just south of Yreka. The latest was 703.1 acres purchased from Brazie for $3,250,000 on April 7, 2004. Rose and his brother, Darwin Rose, are enrolled as Karuk Tribal members, but have now aligned themselves with the Alturas Indian Rancheria.

This tribe has just nine members, according to its rolls.

Part of Rose’s holdings includes a patent trust from 1897 that was held by the United States for Shasta Indian Jim Benter. It is a 160-acre parcel on the east boundary of Yreka.

Hall said the fact that the 160-acre parcel was held in trust for a Shasta Indian, proves the area was within the Shasta Nation’s territory, not the Karuk’s.

As of last month, Rose had an agreement with Tribal Consultants of Ohio for a ground lease that would ultimately provide a turnkey gaming facility for the Alturas Rancheria on the 160-acre Shasta parcel. This group has not received its Tribal-state compact with California, but Darren Rose is now listed as the vice president in the Alturas tribal government, making it a curiosity of how he can also be on the Karuk rolls.

Casino land must be designated "Indian land"

Karuks do not have federally recognized land for casino in Yreka.

In 2002, the Karuks purchased 50 acres in Yreka and met again this summer with state officials to negotiate a Tribal-state compact, which is a contract for gaming. The compact has not been completed.

One reason the Karuks have not been able to get the casino in is that the proposed land for the casino has not received a federal determination as "Indian lands." That decision is up to the National Indian Gaming Commission. The commission regulates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988.

But, just last month Chairman Hall also sent a letter to the National Indian Gaming Commission and its supervisor, Gail Norton, who is Secretary of the Department of Interior. This letter also exposes the Karuks for trying to place a casino on lands that are not their own. The land was also purchased after the cut-off date of the 1988 Indian Gaming law.

Some tribes are shopping for reservations

Reservation shopping has become big business throughout the United States. Tribes continue to shop for new lands off established reservations and without historic ties.

The Indian Gaming industry generated $13 billion across the nation in 2001. With the increase in Indian casinos and tribes vying for casino proposals, the year 2004 will easily out-do $13 billion.

Writer Liz Bowen can be reached at pioneerp@sisqtel.net or by calling 530-468-5355.





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