Saturday, May 30, 2009

Gaming in Shasta Territory? The History of One Indian Allotment

City of Yreka, Siskiyou County, CA

The Alturas Rancheria (of Pit River descent) in 2005 announced plans to build a gaming facility just south of the town of Yreka in Central Siskiyou County in Northern California. The Alturas Rancheria is made up of Pit River Indians and is located about 250 miles to the east of Yreka in the high-desert town of Alturas, located in Modoc County in the extreme North Eastern Corner of the State. Pit River territory is generally accepted to have extended up to the shores of Goose Lake, that straddles the Oregon California border, about 40 miles north of Alturas. The Alturas Rancheria's members represent a small fraction of the larger Pit River Tribe, based in Burney, and operate a separate tribal governing body. The total tribal membership of the Alturas Rancheria is 7 individuals, two of which are non-Indian, being adopted members as business partners. The Alturas Rancheria Members are of the Illmawi Band of Pit River originating in the far upper reaches of that watershed around and east of present day Alturas. The official land base of the tribe today consists of one small parcel of land, known as the Alturas Rancheria, where they already operate a small gaming facility, the Desert Rose Casino. When the tribe signed a gaming compact with the state of California, it included wording that would allow the tribe two (2) gaming facilities. The Desert Rose and an undefined Casino in and undefined location in the future.

The Casino plans were planned placing the gaming facility on an Indian Allotment, individually held federal trust land, namely the Bender Allotment in Siskiyou County, Bender was recorded by the BIA as having been a Shasta Indian. Though some of his descendants are found in the Pit River, Alturas Rancheria, and the Shasta Nation-a non-federally recognised tribe. The Allotment in question is actually held in tribally held trust status for its diverse beneficiaries by the Karuk Tribe (of which the some of the Bender descendants find membership) as it is a federally recognised tribe, allowing lands to be held in trust, the Shasta Nation lacking recognition resulting in a lack of protections towards its allotments currently held in fee status, in common with non-Indians. It is extremely ambiguous that the BIA has upheld the trust status of an allotment for members that are descended from a Indian that had blood from a tribe that is currently a non-recognised tribe by the BIA.

The Shasta Nation is currently under review by BIA (since the 1980's) to recognise its status as a Federal Indian Tribe. BIA's response to this is that persons of Shasta Blood can be found in several area tribes, and the BIA by policy, does not intervene in tribal membership, and internal sovereign issue. (Santa Clara V. Martinez). A situation the Alturas Rancheria contend would allow the Bender Descendants to pursue gaming on the trust land, despite the fact that they are currently members of tribes other than the Shasta Nation, but on an allotment within Shasta Traditional Tribal Territory, prior to the Shasta Nation completing the Review Process outlines in BIA's Office of Federal Acknowledgement. And despite the Bender Descendants being members of a Separate Indian Tribe with entirely different traditional boundaries. Gaming outside of a given tribes traditional territory is not allowed per gaming regulations. (Cite-"reservation shopping" bill introduced to congress)

The Shasta Nation and the Karuk Tribe and the State of California all officially opposed the Alturas Rancheria's plans to Build the Shasta Mountain Casino, without prejudice against the tribe itself, taking issue with the violation of gaming regulations dis-allowing gaming by tribes outside of their traditional territory. Their claims were that the Alturas Rancheria was not allowed to game outside of its traditional territory, on an allotment that originally was held in trust for a Shasta Indian, despite being currently held by the Karuk. The BIA NIGC concurred with the Karuk Tribe and the Non-recognised Shasta Nation's Claims that the Alturas Rancheria should not be allowed gaming outside of their traditional territory, on an allotment that is in trust status under the Karuk Tribe.

The Desert Rose Casino in Alturas, CA operated by the Alturas Rancheria

No comments: