In a move that proves the BIA and Department of Interior does not care about violations of civil rights in Indian Country, Larry Echohawk approves a casino for Enterprise Rancheria. We wrote about Enterprise Rancheria Expelling Members after a lawful recall vote and Diane Feinsteins opposition to reservation shopping
Two major tribal casinos in California have been approved by the U.S. Department of Interior using a rarely-granted exception to the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
Under the law, Native American tribes can build casinos on reservations that existed before Oct. 17, 1988, but not on lands taken into trust after that date.
However, the law allows the Secretary of the Interior to make an exception in cases where the off-reservation acquisition is in the tribe’s best interest and does not hurt the surrounding community.
But, Kathryn Rand, co-director of the Institute for the Study of Tribal Gaming Law and Policy at the University of North Dakota, told the Associated Press that there have been only a handful of such exceptions granted since the law was passed.
In this case, federal officials have approved a 1,700-machine casino with a 170-room hotel near the Northern California city of Marysville, a project planned by the Enterprise Rancheria of Maidu Indians. We wrote about Glenda Nelson, their tribal chair here
The second approval was for a 2,500-machine casino and a 200-room hotel in the Central Valley city of Madera, about 40 miles north of Sacramento. This is a project for the North Fork Rancheria tribe.
Both casinos are dozens of miles away from their current reservations and put them closer to urban centers.
Speaking for the Interior Department, Larry Echo Hawk, assistant secretary for Indian Affairs, said, "Both tribes have historical connections to the proposed gaming sites, and both proposals have strong support from the local community."
Rand noted that the decision by the Obama administration reflected a change in the federal government’s approach to off-reservation gaming from the Bush administration.
"The Bush administration was leaning in the direction that distance mattered more than anything else," Rand said.
Charles Banks-Altekruse, a spokesman for the tribes, said the casinos will generate jobs and he was confident that Gov. Jerry Brown, who has one year to decide whether to approve them, will support the projects