News

Administration in new compact talks?

Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, said the administration of
Arnold Schwarzenegger has entered negotiations with the Federated
Indians of Graton Rancheria to build an urban casino. The tribe has land in Rohnert Park inside Huffman’s district.

When asked whether such talks were underway, the Governor’s press
secretary, Aaron McClear said: “We don’t comment on pending
negotiations. But we always negotiate in good faith with any tribe
that has federally-eligible land.”

It is this last term, “federally eligible land,” that Huffman said has
him worried. Working with Stations Casinos, a Las Vegas-based
management company, the tribe bought two parcels of land in recent
years, one near Sears Point and another near 101 in Rohnert Park. Station Casinos owns the Rohnert Park land via a holding company called SC Sonoma Management LLC. While the coastal Miwok and Southern Pomo groups that make up the membership of the Graton Rancheria are native to the area, neither
site fits the traditional definition of tribal lands.

“That puts us in the game of actually promoting new casinos,” Huffman
said. “I don’t think they should be having any discussion whatsoever
until they have federally-recognized land.”

According to the tribe’s Web site, the tribe lost all but one acre of
its 15.5 acre federal allotment to the federal government in 1958.
This Rancheria land is in Graton, about 15 miles northwest of the
Rohnert Park site, and 45 miles from the Sears Point plot. The tribe
regained federal recognition in late 2000–right about the time tribal
gaming was becoming a reality in California.

“They pursued recognition by saying they wouldn’t pursue a casino,”
Huffman said.

A group called Stop the Casino 101 has long opposed the Graton’s
casino efforts. They also claim the administration is in talks with
two other tribes: the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians and the
Rincon Nation of Luise


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