Indian Koi tribe unveils plans for $ 600 million casino complex in Sonoma County

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To open the casino, the Koi Nation must also negotiate a Tribal Gaming Agreement with the Governor of California, which must be ratified by the state legislature and approved by the US Department of the Interior, according to the California Indian Gaming Association. .

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

State Senator Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, said he had just learned of the casino resort’s proposal on Wednesday, but found it “deeply concerning” because of its size .

“Sonoma County doesn’t need another casino and I oppose any new gaming outlet,” McGuire said. “While I honor and respect tribal sovereignty, this is not the right plan for North County.”

U.S. Representative Jared Huffman D-San Rafael helped draft the bill allowing the Lytton Tribe to turn their land west of Windsor to the federal government, pushing forward a tribal housing project and other plans to development – but not a casino. Huffman said he would likely oppose the Koi Nation resort plan and that there is no guarantee the tribe will successfully go through the complicated process to get federal and state approvals for their casino.

“It’s one thing to say you’ve acquired property and rolled out designs and plans,” Huffman said. “In fact, getting this field to be trusted and getting the contracts and approvals to start playing is a whole different story. It’s just hard to do if everyone around you is against it.

Windsor City Councilor Debora Fudge said the Koi Nation announcement was particularly frustrating given the time Sonoma and Windsor County officials had spent negotiating with the Lytton Tribe to drop any casino plans local. Through a spokesperson, Doug Elmets of the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians declined to comment.

Fudge opposes the planned development of the Shiloh Casino. Considering Windsor’s history of opposing casinos, she was not too surprised that the tribal chiefs of the Koi Nation did not alert Windsor leaders to the unveiling of the project.

“I understand,” she said. “They seem to have hired people who are at the top of their game in terms of public relations, so they expect opposition.”

The proposed wine property for the project is in unincorporated Sonoma County between Windsor and Santa Rosa.

On Wednesday, the entrance to the vineyard was framed by a wrought iron gate with a tree-lined driveway leading to a country villa. Although the area is dominated by agriculture, an eastern subdivision of Windsor with dozens of grand houses sits just across East Shiloh Road to the north.

To the west, on the west side of Old Redwood Road, is a large mobile home park. San Miguel Elementary School is about a 10-minute walk south on Faught Road.

And to the east is the 850-acre Shiloh Ranch Regional Park, a popular destination for hikers with eight miles of winding trails leading through the Mayacamas Mountains.

The Koi Nation plans to seek private investors to help fund the massive development, said Singer, a spokesperson for the tribe. He said there was “great interest in this project,” although he declined to share names of investors.

The Koi Nation anticipates that an unspecified portion of the revenues of the Shiloh Casino will be shared with the entire community through the support of local organizations.

When built and fully operational, the complex is expected to employ over 1,100 full-time workers.

The Koi Nation is one of the last Pomo groups that have not had their own land for most of the past 150 years. The ancestors of the Koi Nation were part of the Southeastern Pomo people who lived on Koi Island in Clear Lake, according to the tribe’s website.

In 1916, the United States government attempted to relegate the tribe to a small rancheria near Clearlake. But the Office of Indian Affairs ruled the land uninhabitable. The tribe then moved to Sevastopol and Santa Rosa, and Sonoma County remained its spiritual and political center.

Although uninhabited, the Koi Nation’s Lower Lake Rancheria was closed in 1956 by federal authorities who mistakenly ended the federal government’s relationship with the Koi Nation.

Over the next 50 years, the United States continued to deny recognition of the Koi Nation as a tribe, until a federal court in 2019 restored its sovereignty and ability to establish a tribal land base.

The court ruling “paved the way” for the tribe to acquire the Shiloh Road land and take the first step in securing approval to build the casino complex, Singer said.

“With this land and the Shiloh Resort & Casino, we are taking long overdue steps to preserve our cultural and historical integrity and ensure a better future for generations to come,” said Beltran, President of the Koi Nation.

Editors Emma Murphy and Alana Minkler contributed to this story.


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