In May, the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs approved the gaming application of the Ione Band of Miwok Indians for 228 acres in Amador County, California, and denied the application for the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians, which wants to put 30 acres into trust in Contra Costa County, near the city of Richmond.
Neither band currently has reservation land.
The decisions were made by Acting Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Donald “Del” Laverdure, who said the Ione Band had demonstrated “modern and historical” connections to the acres it wants to put into federal trust. On the other hand, he said the Scotts Valley Band had not demonstrated such connections to the land, which is 80 miles from the tribe’s headquarters.
Ione Chairman Yvonne Miller told Indian Country Today, “We’re very happy and we’re very excited about this. Our application has been in for about 10 years, and on top of that, we’ve been trying to get land into trust for over 100 years.” The tribe’s plans for a casino have not been made yet, she said.
The 750-member tribe proposes to build a casino on 228 acres near the town of Plymouth, 11 miles from Ione and 40 miles from Sacramento. The Interior Department determined in 2006 that the tribe is a restored tribe and that its lands are “restored lands.”
Generally, federal law prevents tribes from putting land acquired since 1988 into federal trust for gaming, but the law provides many exceptions to that rule. Having lands that are “restored” is one of those exceptions.
The Scotts Valley proposal is the second unsuccessful casino resort proposal for the unincorporated part of the city of Richmond, which sits on San Francisco Bay. The tribe had proposed to build on 30 acres near the waterfront. Richmond, one of the poorest cities in the region, would have gotten $330 million over two decades in return for municipal services and for supporting the tribe.
The proposal had survived several lawsuits by environmental groups.