A request by an Indian tribe for governmental recognition, a move that could have cleared the way for a local casino, has been denied by a federal judge.
U.S. District Court Judge Edward J. Davila issued the ruling Monday against the Mishewal Wappo Tribe of Alexander Valley.
“The motivation behind this lawsuit was clear, said U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson. “By the group’s own admission, if the lawsuit was successful, they would have attempted to build a casino in Napa or Sonoma Counties.
The result ensures local lands continue to be protected, said Diane Dillon, chair of the Napa County Board of Supervisors, in a statement, “and upholds the agricultural preserve and watershed lands that we hold so dearly.”
The tribe was congressionally de-recognized with the 1959 termination of the Alexander Valley Rancheria. Descendants the Mishewal Wappo Indians of Alexander Valley sued for reinstatement in 2009 to include placement of unidentified Napa County lands into federal trust, exempting them local and state law – and allowing a casino.
“This ruling protects our region’s important agricultural lands from Las Vegas-style gambling,” Thompson said.
Davila ruled that the request was well beyond the six-year statute of limitations that applied to the case.
Thompson called the recent legal maneuver “an attempt to circumvent Congress and the U.S. Department of Interior by going through the courts.”
“It rightfully failed,” he said,