Sonoma County’s Board of Supervisors Resists Koi Nation’s Attempts to Place Land into Trust for Casino Establishment

The Board of Supervisors of Sonoma County unanimously decided to adopt a resolution on April 5th, which oppose the attempts of the Koi Nation to place land situated in the southeast of Windsor into trust in order to establish a casino venue.

The Sonoma County Board’s decision came to support the opposition of the 5 federally recognized Native American tribes in Sonoma County – Cloverdale Rancheria of Pomo Indians, Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, Kashia Band of Pomo Indians, Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria and Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians. The five aforementioned tribes have all addressed the Board with letters expressing their opposition to the application filed by the Koi Nation.

As CasinoGamesPro reported, one of the main reasons why the five tribes said they were against potential permission for the Koi Nation to place the land into trust and build a casino was the fact that the tribe is not linked to Sonoma County.

Yesterday, the tribal councils and the Board of Supervisors have made an assertion that the Koi Nation lacks the required significant historical connection to the lands it wants to put into trust. The Board ruled that the historic and ancestral lands of the Koi Tribe lie in Lake County because it is a Southeastern Pomo tribe. The Chair of the Board, James Gore, said that he and his colleagues supported the rights of Native American tribes to establish sovereign lands but Koi Nation’s application could set a negative precedent in permitting one Native American tribe to establish land into trust in ancestors’ lands of another tribe without any historical connection with the land.

No Historical Connection between Koi Nation and the Land Found by Sonoma County Board

As previously reported, the 68.8-acre parcel situated in close proximity to Shiloh Ranch Regional Park was purchased by the Koi Nation in September 2021. At the time, the tribe revealed its intention to develop the land for a casino and hotel, and filed an application with the US Department of the Interior to have the land placed into trust so that the parcel becomes part of the tribe’s sovereign tribal land.

If the application of the Tribe to place the land into trust gets the approval of the Federal Government, the property would become part of the Koi Nation’s sovereign land.

For the time being, neither the country nor the state has civil regulatory jurisdiction over lands that have been put into trust. However, both are given criminal prohibitory jurisdiction over Native American tribes’ trust lands, which basically means that it is the Sheriff’s Office in Sonoma County that is entitled to the enforcement of criminal laws on trust lands. Apart from no regulatory jurisdiction, Sonoma County does not have the authority to decide whether a casino opens on land that is taken by the Federal Government into trust for a tribe.

The resolution which the Sonoma County’s Board of Supervisors issued on April 5th and the letters of the 5 federally recognized tribes have been posed as a petition to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which is given the power to approve, deny or condition the taking of land into trust for the purposes of gambling, and the US Department of Interior.