The Chukchansi Tribe has been divided for years, with different factors among the tribe fighting on a consistent basis, going so far that the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino was shut down in October 2014 due to security issues. Now the tribe has finally sworn in new council members who were elected for service, hopefully to eventually get the casino back in action.
It was last week that the tribe held a ceremony in Oakhurst to swear in the elected officials, yet several groups still contest that they have rightful leadership roles to play that could possibly delay the reopening of the casino resort. Four candidates had their appeals reviewed by the Indian Dispute Resolution Services group and the election results were upheld based on a ruling by the group.
The ceremony took place at the Oakhurst Community Center with Morris Reid, the faction leader and former tribal chairman sworn in with six supporters. The chair position when to Claudia Gonzales, Vice-Chair was Nokomis Hernandez, Secretary went to Tom Walker and Treasurer went to Dixie Jackson. The remaining seats are filled by Reid, Dora Jones and Harold Hammond.
The council has stated one of their primary goals is to have the casino reopened. Reid asked for patience as it did take four years to have the council elected and the members are already working hard to get the tribe moving again. To move forward, the council must gain approval from the United States District Court, the State Attorney General’s office plus the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC).
Michael Odle is the Director of Public Affairs for the NIGC, who stated that the priority of the NIGC is to ensure that the facility reopens under circumstances that will protect the safety of the patrons, employees and tribal members. Issues that led to the closure are not to be repeated and in the point of view of the NIGC, there is no time frame as to when this could occur.