Coquille Tribe questions opposition to new Class II gaming facility

Artist's rendering of the Cedars at Bear Creek in Medford, Oregon. Image from Coquille EIS

The Coquille Tribe is wondering why Gov. Kate Brown (D) is opposing plans for a Class II gaming facility.

States do not play a role in Class II gaming. But Brown argues that the tribe should not be allowed to open the proposed Cedars at Bear Creek because it already operates The Mill Casino, a Class III facility.

"In essence, I believe it is essential that the state ‘hold the line’ on the number of casinos within her borders whenever possible," Brown wrote in a letter to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

But Chairwoman Brenda Meade points out that Brown didn't say anything when the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians opened the Three Rivers Casino Coos Bay, a Class II facility, last year. Three Rivers happens to be just three miles from The Mill.

"I don’t think any governor has opposed a Class II casino," Meade told The Medford Mail Tribune.

Meade, however, thinks Brown is acting at the behest of the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe, whose leaders oppose the Cedars at Bear Creek facility. They didn't say anything publicly about Three Rivers either.

"It’s a tribe-against-tribe issue, and I don’t want that," Meade told the paper.

The Cow Creek Band is indeed cheering Brown's position. The tribe operates the Seven Feathers Casino Resort in Canyonville, about 70 miles from the Cedars at Bear Creek site.

“The effort by the Coquille Tribe to open a second casino in Medford without any ancestral ties there is a blatant attempt to circumvent the rules," Tribal CEO Michael Rondeau said in a press release. "Not only would it open the door to the proliferation of gaming throughout the state without any checks and balances, but it would set dangerous precedent that could harm tribes across Indian country.”

The BIA is still reviewing the environmental impact statement for the project. A scoping report was issued last June and will be followed by a draft EIS as part of the process. There is no timeline for a decision, which could be years away.

Get the Story:
Gov. Brown: 'Hold the line' on more casinos in Oregon (The Medford Mail Tribune 4/14)

Federal Register Notice:
Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Coquille Indian Tribe Fee-to-Trust and Casino Project, City of Medford, Jackson County, Oregon (January 15, 2015)

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