Last September, the Koi Nation brought forward a proposal to build a casino property in the Northern California region. The $600 million project will sit on a 68-acre plot of land in the town of Windsor. It would be the 3rd gambling destination in the county which already has two casinos.
However, the plan has reportedly hit a significant roadblock following the unanimous opposition from the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. Earlier this week, the Board passed a resolution against the proposal after receiving antagonistic letters from five other tribes in the area.
Among the arguments is that the Koi Nation, which intends to re-establish its tribal land base in the county, has a disputable connection to the area. The tribes claim that the ancestors of the Koi Nation are in Lake County, located 50 miles away from the proposed casino site.
Sentiments of the Koi Nation
The Koi Nation was reportedly angered by the Board’s resolution. Historically, they originated from Lake County but were displaced as the location became uninhabitable during the last century. They moved to various communities on the Russian River and, later on, to Santa Rosa and Sebastopol.
However, the 2019 federal court ruling, which restored the Koi Nation’s recognition as a tribal entity, also recognized its right to establish a tribal land base. According to Dino Beltran, Vice Chairman of Koi Nation, most of the tribe’s members now live in Sonoma County, which they have inhabited for more than 100 years.
Beltran is also of the opinion that the primary reason for tribal opposition is the proximity of the proposed casino resort to the county’s existing casino properties. The Shiloh Casino & Resort will be located just 13 miles from the Graton Resort and Casino and 18 miles from the River Rock Casino.
The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria and the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians, who are directly involved with these casinos, are part of the tribes who have forwarded letters to the Board expressing opposition.
Although this is the strongest resistance the project has faced so far, there are more hurdles ahead still. The Koi Nation has to receive regulatory approval from the United States Department of the Interior and this federal authority’s land-into-trust. The proposal also has to meet the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act compliance determinations.
Earlier this year, the tribe has entered a predevelopment agreement with the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma as partners in the project. When completed, the establishment will feature a 200-room hotel, a lobby with about 2,500 casino games, and six restaurants.
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