The Mishewal Wappo Tribe of California had earlier filed a petition with the court requesting the Napa County, California lands to be handed over to the Wappo tribe. The Wappo Indians expected the court to approve their petition and had plans to construct a casino on Napa lands.

Tribal casinos have generated considerable income for Indian tribes and the Wappo Indians had plans to construct a casino and then benefit from the income generated. The Napa Valley County lands are currently being used by farmers and they opposed the proposal by the Wappo Indians as it threatened their livelihood.

A federal judge recently declined the Wappo Indians proposal and stated that they waited too long to file their petition and agreed with the Napa county government. In a statement, U.S. District Court Judge Edward Davila agreed said, “The end result of this ruling is very important because it ensures local lands continue to be protected and upholds the agricultural preserve and watershed lands that we hold so dearly”.

According to some reports the tribe is not recognized by the federal government, the deadline to apply expired 40 years ago, and if there is no tribe, there can be no casino. The current lawsuit on which the judge ruled dates back to 2009.

In a news release Rep. Mike Thompson D-St. Helena said, “The motivation behind this lawsuit was clear. By the group’s own admission, if the lawsuit was successful, they would have attempted to build a casino in Napa or Sonoma counties.”

The tribe contends they never voted for the plan to dismantle their rancheria an be assimilated. They believe the United States unlawfully terminated their federal recognition.