Casino gaming gets mixed signals
The Nevada County supervisors backed off a resolution opposing Indian gaming casinos Tuesday. The Nevada City City Council flatly rejected it the night before.
All City Council members spoke and voted against the resolution, some calling it discriminatory.
The Board of Supervisors Tuesday considered a similar resolution. But the board postponed a vote and asked staff to reword the declaration back for further consideration.
Shirley Hendrickson, the Nevada City-area woman who made the pitch to both the board and the City Council, said Indian casino gambling industry is made up of special interest groups and that hundreds more casinos could be built as more tribes gain federal recognition.
But Clara DeLuca, a member of the Tsi-Akim Maidu tribe, opposed the resolution because she said it was discriminatory. Public officials should not be able to say that, based on one’s race, one can or cannot do something, DeLuca said Tuesday. “There is so much misinformation out there,” said DeLuca, adding she, personally, would rather not have a casino in Nevada County.
While the county board supported the right of Native Americans to seek federal recognition, it strongly opposed buying non-tribal property by federally recognized tribes for casino gaming in Nevada County, according to the resolution.
“A federally recognized Indian tribe is a sovereign government and the board of supervisors has no control over problems such as public safety, water, sewage, fire safety and the environment,” the resolution before the supervisors said.
Don Ryberg, tribal chairman of the Tsi-Akim Maidu, Nevada County’s native people, voiced his opposition.
“I’m opposing this resolution because it smacks of racism, prejudice and all the stuff that goes with it,” Ryberg said.
“Any resolution against a person’s race is called discrimination,” read flyers distributed by the tribe Tuesday.
Supervisors directed staff to substitute the word “Indian” with “Las Vegas style” gaming and bring the resolution back for further discussion later this month or next.
In January 2001, Nevada County supervisors passed a resolution to recognize the Tsi-Akim Maidu tribe and support its pursuit of federal recognition.
While Ryberg thanked the supervisors for their recognition and support, he stressed that the Maidu tribe doesn’t want Indian gaming.
“I’ve said that repeatedly over and over and that’s how this tribe believes,” Ryberg said.
Once the Maidus’ gain federal recognition, “no other tribe can come on our turf, so to speak, and build casinos,” Ryberg added.
Other members of the audience criticized tribal members and their supporters for “playing the race card” and decried the social, environmental and economic impacts that casinos bring.
Supporters of the resolution pointed to casinos being built in neighboring counties by other tribes, claiming it can happen here.
Maidu tribal member Louella Giordano said backers of the resolution were jumping the gun.
“We are not a federally recognized tribe,” Giordano said. “These people are acting like a casino’s going up across the street next week.”
The Maidu tribal council is against Indian gaming, Giordano added.
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