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Coyote Valley Shodakai Casino Temporarily Suspends Operations9 June 2004
CALIFORNIA -- (PRESS RELEASE) -- Don Trimble, CEO of The Shodakai Casino operated by the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, announced today that the casino will suspend operations for the next few days in compliance with the temporary closure order issued on Monday by the National Indian Gaming Commission.
"We will fight the commission's closure order at both the administrative levels and in court. In the meantime, we will close temporarily to reconfigure our games. We intend to reopen within the next two weeks with exciting new games and attractions that are not subject to the commission's closure order," Trimble announced.
Employees at the ten year old casino are being granted two week vacations.
The closure order is the latest chapter in a lengthy legal battle over terms of the state gaming compact that all Indian casinos must negotiate. The Tribe believes that certain provisions of the state compacts violate tribal sovereignty. This past February, the court battle over the issue ended when the Supreme Court refused to hear the Tribe's case.
"Since February when the Supreme Court decided not to hear our case, we have been in good faith negotiations with Governor Schwarzenegger on a new gaming compact," Trimble said. "We are very close to an agreement, and are hopeful that the few outstanding issues can be resolved in the next 30-60 days. There was no reason for the Commission to have ordered us to close."
Trimble also noted that the Tribe signed the 1999 Model Gaming Compact approved by the California Legislature which both Governors Davis and Schwarzeneggger refused to sign. The Tribe has submitted that compact to the US Department of Interior for approval.
"The commission's order, we believe, is both illegal and vindictive. We signed the 1999 compact. We are in good faith negotiations with the state on a new compact. We are doing everything humanly possible to put a fair and equitable compact in place. The commission did not have to take this action – it's just an excuse to punish us because they don't like the fact that our small Tribe fought for our rights of sovereignty and self-determination," said Priscilla Hunter, Tribal Chair of the Coyote Valley Board of Pomo Indians.
"Our members had the courage and the tenacity to fight unfair terms that the state attempted to impose on our ability to provide a decent living for our families. Throughout the sad history of Indians in America, the United States Government has continually tried to strike us down for standing up for ourselves. The closure order is just the most recent example," Ms. Hunter continued.
"Closing the casino will have a devastating impact on our Tribe and on our community. That's why we will reopen with games not subject to the closure order and fight on to restore all of the games in our casino".
The Tribe presently employs over two-hundred and fifty (250) persons on the Reservation. One Hundred seventy (170) of those employees are funded out of revenues generated from gaming on the Reservation. If the commission is successful in shutting down our casino, those 170 persons will lose their jobs. That means that 75% of the current jobs on the Reservation will be lost.
As well, the local community will lose the more than $4 million the casino spends annually on local goods and services.
"I guess the commission would rather see us on welfare and on drugs rather than taking care of ourselves and building a future for our families," Ms. Hunter said. Prior to opening the casino, 32% of all tribal members residing on the Reservation were receiving some form of public assistance. Today, less than 7% receive public assistance.
"The Coyote Valley Shodakai Casino has operated for more than 10 years by providing high quality service, honest games and first class entertainment," Trimble said. "We expect to continue serving our community for many years to come."