A tribe in Northern California claims 68-acre land in Sonoma County and plans on developing a casino and hotel resort that will feature plenty of gaming options and 200 rooms. The total cost of this project is estimated to be $600 million.
The Casino Will Include a Hotel, Spa, Restaurants, and More
On Wednesday, the Koi Nation, which is located in Sonoma County and is federally recognized as a tribe of the Southeastern Pomo people, announced that it will be exercising its federal sovereign rights to purchase land located north of Santa Rosa in the amount of $12.3 million. The county area is unincorporated and the Koi Nation will re-establish the tribal land base. Shiloh’s Casino proposal will include a hotel with 200 rooms, a casino floor, food service areas, a spa, a meeting center and six restaurants. Before the purchase, the property was a winery, ten miles from the historical lands of the Pomo territory in California. The sellers were Cynthia and Randall Clifton.
In a statement by the tribe, Shiloh Casino and Resort will employ upwards of 1,100 people when it is fully operation and will provide many benefits for the community of Sonoma. Through the support of local organizations and collaboration with local community members to determine what their needs are, as well as collaboration with the federal government, Koi Nation expects a portion of the revenue to be shared with the community, which is a fantastic step that will have numerous contributions, together with the new, gambling-led measure in California.
Moreover, the tribe describes the casino and resort as a so-called economic engine that will create many jobs for construction workers and other related skilled laborers. Tribal Chairman Darin Beltran stated that Koi Nation’s struggle to re-establish its sovereignty has been bigger than any other tribe.
He went on to say that even with that kind of treatment, it managed to endure the pressure and now, it is time to take control of its destiny and exercise its rights as a Tribe that is federally recognized.
Koi Nation is In Talks With Investors and Potential Partners
Even though the main developer of the project will be Koi Nation, the tribe is in talks with potential partners and investors, as told by a spokesperson. The project’s design is the curtesy of Dale Partners.
The spokesperson also added that the tribe has already filed to place the purchased land in federal trust, which will make it eligible for gaming, according to the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (1988). Then, the next step will be environmental review and a period in which the public will be able to comment. This step is set to start in the next 60-90 days.
Following up on the casino and its services, the spokesperson also noted that the tribe has massive respect for Sonoma County and it is currently talking with the Board of Supervisors in the county, as well as other community and elected members because they desire to have a healthy relationship.
Tribes Continue to Seek Reparations
According to the National Congress of American Indians, when the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 was passed, 80% of the 90 million acres of US land that was taken from the tribes without giving them any compensation was reacquired in trust status. The goal of the said Act was to halt the sale of reservation lands and reserve them. The National Congress of American Indians was established to support the land’s restoration.
These days, many tribes do not have sufficient lands to support housing and self-government. If it weren’t for the latest purchase, Koi Nation would’ve remained one of the Pomo people tribes who were without any land for a majority of the last century and a half.
Before it was seized in the 1870s, the original land of the Koi Nation was on a Clear Lake island. Then, the tribe was displaced to various communities in the Russian River. Later on, it was also displaced to Santa Rosa and Sebastopol. A federal court ruling in 2019 restored Koi Nation’s rights and recognition as a tribal entity. The right to have a sovereign land base was also included.
Beltran stated that with the land and the casino that it plans on building, the tribe takes steps to preserve both the historical and cultural integrity and secures a bright future for the new generations. Not only that, but the success of the casino will also benefit communities in the regions where tribe people have lived for many years. He ended that the Koi Nation is confident that it will receive support from the community as it seeks to exercise its rights as Native Indians and restore its independence.
The land purchase is only one of many steps to take before the resort becomes a reality. It’s not getting off to a good start, either, as several politicians are already voicing concern and opposition. California Senator Mike McGuire feels that “Sonoma County doesn’t need another casino.” Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore said that he is “opposed personally to new casinos” in the county, but understands that he has to “honor the process” that is in place.