Advertise:   712.224.5420

California woman leads tribe with just five members

A small tribe that is proposing to build a large casino in Amador County, California, consists of one woman and her four children.

Rhonda L. Morningstar Pope was recognized as the legitimate leader of the Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians in late 2004. The decision came after a nasty political and legal battle that cost a former Bush administration official his job at the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Pope is putting all the controversy behind her as she moves forward with the gaming plans. At first, she opposed the idea but she said she saw it as a necessity after running out of money fighting to gain control of the tribe. The casino is being built on the 67-acre rancheria.

Pope is the great-granddaughter of Louis and Annie Oliver, who were recognized as leaders of the tribe in 1927. She has two stepchildren.

Get the Story:
Facing her past and future (The Amador Ledger-Dispatch 1/25)
Past 13 months thrust tribal leader into controversy (The Amador Ledger-Dispatch 1/25)
Senator Dave Cox: Buena Vista casino a terrible idea (The Amador Ledger-Dispatch 1/25)

Related Stories:
NIGC adopts new approach for tribal gaming sites (11/14)
Feud that led to BIA deputy's firing resolved (01/10)
GOP operative admits hatchet job on Wayne Smith (04/22)
White House called weekly about casino (11/05)
Terminated tribe at center of battle (06/24)
Wayne Smith already lobbying (6/5)
Wayne Smith's hired gun (5/28)
Wayne Smith seeks protection (5/27)
BIA fires Wayne Smith (5/24)
Smith won't go without fight (5/24)
Wayne Smith given the boot (5/23)
Decision on tiny tribe fought (5/21)
BIA affirms leadership of tiny tribe (5/13)
Calif. tribe threatens suit over 'retaliation' (5/1)
Norton asked to investigate BIA deputy (4/23)
McCaleb aide reports friend to FBI (4/22)
White House looking into McCaleb aide (4/19)
'I think you get the picture' (4/17)
BIA deputy recused on recognition (4/16)
Wall Street Journal blasted for 'drive by' (4/5)