Protesters gathered outside the entrance to Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino Wednesday to protest the federal and state governments’ decision to approve opening the facility.
Members of the “distributees” faction, who contend there are only 46 members of the tribe, were joined by members of the Monica Davis faction, formerly Tex McDonald’s group, which contends that it serves as the tribal council.
The distributees opposed the October election process that resulted in none of its members or supporters being elected to the council. They say the election was illegal because people who were disenrolled between 2010 and 2012 were permitted to vote.
Before the election, the tribal council voted to allow Chukchansi members from 2010 to cast ballots. The federal government named the 2010 council as the tribe’s leadership in 2014, and after an appeal made the same decision in 2015. Members of the distributees’ faction and supporters served on the 2010 council.
Luke Davis, chairman of distributees’ council, said protesters will return to the corner of Lucky Lane and Highway 41 on Thursday morning, when the casino opens.
A tribal court ruled in favor of the distributees and issued a temporary restraining order before the election.
The federal government is supposed to recognize the tribal court, but up until now, has not recognized the decision. Most members of the 2010 tribal council don’t recognize the tribal court’s jurisdiction.
Luke Davis said the distributees wanted the election delayed until enrollment issues could be resolved.
Opposition motions filed last week by both groups about reopening the casino were rejected by a U.S. District Court judge in Fresno.
The lawyer for the distributees, Gary Montana, said he is considering an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal or a new lawsuit against the federal government, contending that the selection of the 2010 council was illegal.