A Mechoopda grave site in Chico, California, where the tribe is restoring its homelands. Photo: mtnbikrrrr

Mechoopda Tribe makes progress on long-delayed gaming project

The Mechoopda Tribe is finally making progress on a gaming project that was long delayed by litigation.

The tribe signed a Class III gaming compact with California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) last week. The agreement must now be ratified by the State Legislature.

"The terms are intended to provide the tribe with the flexibility to develop a new gaming facility that generates revenue for tribal government programs while ensuring that impacts on the local community are appropriately mitigated," the governor's office said in a press release on August 9.

To gain support for the agreement, the tribe has asked Butte County to send a letter to the Legislature. The issue will be considered at a board of supervisors meeting on Tuesday, according to agenda documents.

Approval of the letter would mark a major turnaround. The county so far has spent 16 years and $850,000 on litigation against the tribe, The Chico Enterprise-Record reported.

The county's fight apparently came to an end in April, when the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the tribe's land-into-trust application. The decision was unanimous.

The court issued its mandate on June 6. The order came after the county declined to seek further review of the matter, according to online records.

The tribe plans to build a casino on a 645-acre site in the county. The land falls within 10 miles of the Chico Rancheria that the tribe lost when it was terminated by the federal government. It also lies within a reservation that would have been set aside for the tribe had a late 1800s treaty been ratified instead of hidden away in Washington, D.C.

"Indeed, the parcel is situated just one mile from the Pentz Hills, a set of buttes that are of spiritual significance to the tribe," Judge Sri Srinivasan wrote in the 15-page ruling. "The tribe also hunted, fished, and gathered on the parcel.”

"And in 1851, the Mechoopda negotiated a treaty with the federal government, which, if ratified, would have included the Chico parcel within the tribe’s reservation," Srinivasan added.

The decision marked another instance of a federal appeals court siding with tribal interests in a homelands case.

Read More on the Story:
Mechoopda have casino compact; Butte supervisors’ support sought (The Chico Enterprise-Record August 13, 2018)

Indianz.Com on SoundCloud: D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Butte County v. Chaudhuri

D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Decision:
Butte County v. Chaudhuri (April 13, 2018)

Prior D.C. Circuit Decision:
Butte County v. Hogen (July 13, 2010)

Federal Register Notice:
Land Acquisitions; Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico Rancheria of California (February 27, 2014)

National Indian Gaming Commission Indian Lands Opinions:
January 24, 2014 | March 14, 2003

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