The rightful leaders of the tribe that runs the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino in Coarsegold is still in doubt pending an order today by the Interior Board of Indian Appeals to have an administrative judge weigh in on the years-long dispute.
The decision follows a letter by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in February stating that it would work with the tribal council elected in December 2010 to administer housing funds, operate federal service programs and carry out government relations with the tribe.
Reggie Lewis, chairman of that tribal council and current head of the Chukchansi Economic Development Authority tasked with overseeing the casino's finances, praised the position.
However, another faction led by Tex McDonald now running the day-to-day operations at the casino quickly sought to reverse the decision through the Interior Board of Indian Appeals, referencing the latest Dec. 7 election as its claim to tribal leadership.
The IBIA's order delays the immediate effect of the Bureau of Indian Affairs' February decision until an administrative judge sorts out the merits of each council and decides which group of the Chukchansi Tribe the federal government will conduct business with.
Leadership of the tribe has been in dispute since a December 2011 tribal election, leading to two factions laying claim as the rightful council.