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Federal Judge Defers to Interior Board of Indian Appeals to Settle Chukchansi Leadership Dispute

Decision sets stage for IBIA to affirm judgment of Bureau of Indian Affairs recognizing Reggie Lewis as Tribal Chairman

FRESNO, Calif., March 10, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- A federal judge has deferred to the Interior Board of Indian Appeals (IBIA) to settle the Chukchansi Tribe's leadership dispute. The decision makes it clear that the IBIA is the proper authority to implement the February 11 Bureau of Indian Affairs ("BIA") decision that recognized the last uncontested Tribal Council which was led by Chairman Reggie Lewis.

The dismissal of the case by the federal judge was anticipated after the judge ruled last week that the court had no jurisdiction absent an order by the IBIA to implement the BIA's Decision immediately.

The lawsuit was filed to prevent management at the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino from continuing to provide a small faction of the Tribe with bags of cash from the casino cage. The Tribe's bank reported over $300,000 in cash missing from the casino, which has still not been properly accounted for. Over $300,000 mostly in $20 dollar bills was stuffed in two bags that the small faction illegally controlling the casino had directed not be deposited in the casino's bank account but ordered delivered to tribal members across the street from the casino.

"This court decision is important because it sends a strong message to the IBIA that it should act quickly regarding the BIA's decision to recognize the last uncontested Tribal Council," said Reggie Lewis, the Chairman of the Chukchansi Tribe that the BIA recognized as the governing body of the Tribe. "The tensions are extreme and warrant placing the BIA's Decision into immediate effect to avoid very real and devastating consequences. The Tribal Council has presented  to the IBIA all of the exigency circumstances and we are confident that the IBIA will affirm the decision by the BIA's Regional Director and place her decision into immediate effect to stop the theft and conversion of tribal assets." 

The Request from the BIA to the IBIA urging the IBIA to affirm its decision and putting its decision recognizing the Tribal Council led by Reggie Lewis into immediate effect can be seen on the Tribe's website here: http://chukchansitribe.net/bia-letter-to-interior-board-of-indian-appeals/

The Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians is a federally-recognized Indian Tribe that has lived continuously in California's Central Valley and Sierra Foothills for more than 12,000 years. Today, the Chukchansi Tribe operates the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino on its ancestral territory in Coarsegold, California. The casino employs over 1,200 individuals making it one of the largest employers in Madera County. For more information on the Chukchansi Tribe go to: http://www.chukchansi-nsn.gov.

SOURCE Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians

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