COARSEGOLD, Calif., Feb. 4, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — In another victory for the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians, the Unification Council which was named the Governing Body of the Tribe in a January 24, 2015 General Council vote of nearly 75% of the adult members by the Tribe, succeeded in its efforts to intervene in a lawsuit filed by a dissident group led by Morris Reid and Dora Jones. Federal District Court Judge Richard Seeborg, in a comprehensive decision, ordered that the Unification Council had an unconditional right to intervene so that it may protect the Tribe’s interests in the lawsuit, denied the Reid/Jones Group’s claims, and then granted a motion to dismiss the case in its entirety.
Nancy Ayala, Co-Chairperson of the Unification Council stated, “This is another important victory for our Tribe in defeating those individuals who put their personal agenda before the sake of the Tribe and its members.” Co-Chairman Reggie Lewis has continuously urged these individuals to put aside their self-interests for the greater good of Tribe, its members, the 1300 casino employees who are out of work, the thousands of their dependents who are being denied support and the tens of thousands of people in the local community who have been adversely affected by the selfish actions of a small group of dissidents.
Co-Chair Reggie Lewis stated, “This small number of individuals have wreaked havoc on the Tribe and our citizens, have attempted to undermine the Tribe’s laws and sovereignty, have obstructed attempts to provide benefits to our people, and have been denounced thoroughly by our members in the largest gathering in the Tribe’s history. Hopefully, they will accept the will of the members and abide by the Tribe’s laws.”
The ruling by Judge Seeborg is significant in that it recognizes and supports the position of the Unification Council as having an unconditional right to intervene in the lawsuit filed by the unrecognized Reid/Jones Group in order to defend the interests of the Tribe and its members. The Tribe’s members themselves have identified the Unification Council as the governing body of the Tribe in a vote administered by a neutral third-party.
The Tribe’s General Council voted to recognize that the six tribal leaders who make up the Unification Council – Chance Alberta, Nancy Ayala, Nokomis Hernandez, Tracey Hopkins, Reggie Lewis and Karen Wynn – have the Tribe’s constitutional authority to act as the Tribe’s interim governing body until an election for all seven Tribal Council seats is conducted, and to use the membership list as it existed at the time of the December 2012 Tribal Council elections.
The Unification Council is working with federal agencies to reopen the Chukchansi Gold Casino and restore member programs and benefits to its citizens as quickly as possible.
Media Contact: Mr. Roger Salazar (916) 284-1255
SOURCE Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians