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Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Mishewal Wappo Tribe LOSES Federal Recognition Lawsuit: Judge Edward Davila Rules Tribe Waited TOO long.
United States District Court Judge Edward J. Davila issued the ruling. The judgment means that the U.S. Department of Interior will not have to recognize the Mishewal Wappo Tribe of Alexander Valley.
Napa County officials, who have opposed having the tribe federally recognized, celebrated the judge's decision. If the Wappo had won, they had feared the tribe might then seek to have land held in trust by the federal government and try to build a casino in the county. Local land use laws would not apply in such a case.
“The end result of this ruling is very important because it ensures local lands continue to be protected and upholds the agricultural preserve and watershed lands that we hold so dearly,” Diane Dillon, chair of the Napa County Board of Supervisors, said in a statement. “It also makes certain that the voice of Napa County residents is heard and their years of efforts are not dismissed.”
The litigation stemmed from the 1959 termination of the Alexander Valley Rancheria, which was located in Sonoma County. A modern day group claiming to be descendants of Mishewal Wappo Indians of Alexander Valley sued the federal government in 2009 seeking status restoration and placement of unidentified Napa County lands into federal trust, exempting such lands from all local and state regulations.
U.S. District Court Judge Edward Davila agreed with arguments previously made by Napa and Sonoma counties, and also advanced by the federal government, that the Wappos waited 40 years too late to bring its lawsuit when the statute of limitations is only six years, county officials said. OP: Too long for a tribe that's centuries old?
But local officials already have another casino worry on their hands. They say the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians – a federally recognized tribe – has signed a preliminary agreement with a Las Vegas company to seek a casino in Napa County, Sonoma County or Solano County.