Graton Rancheria statement on Koi Nation’s request for a games facility in Sonoma County


Editor’s Note: Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria President Greg Sarris issued the following statement in response to inquiries about the Koi Nation’s efforts to secure casino and resort approval near Windsor.

My tribe, the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, strongly oppose the Koi Nation’s attempt to acquire 68 acres of land in trust for a casino and hotel in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County. This is a blatant attempt to shop on reserves outside the traditional territory of the Koi Nation and on the territory of other federally recognized tribes.

The consensus among ethnohistorians is that the ancestral roots of the Koi Nation are found in the Lower Lake area of ​​Lake County. In 1916, the federal government acquired a rancheria for the Koi Nation in Lake County. In fact, the Koi Nation was previously known as “Lower Lake Rancheria,” reflecting its geographic and cultural ties to the region, but changed its name in 2012, amid earlier attempts to acquire a gambling site. in the bay area. This attempt by the Koi Nation to create a connection with Sonoma County is an affront to Sonoma County tribes like ours, who have a widely documented presence here. The Koi Nation has never been associated with Sonoma County, linguistically or culturally, as a people indigenous to its landscape. As a chair and professor of Native American history and literature for over 30 years, and having worked closely with renowned ethnohistorians and linguists, I can attest that the Koi Nation has no connection with the county. from Sonoma. The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria are made up of the Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo peoples, the latter with strong ties to the county’s cultural landscape. We have separate village names and sites. Our stories and traditions are linked to this cultural landscape. Our ancestors are buried here. All of Sonoma County is indigenous to the southern and southwestern Pomo language groups. The Koi Nation, a Pomo tribe from the southeast, has no connection or affiliation here. The Southeastern Pomo are indigenous to Lake County, particularly Lower Lake (Clear Lake).

The Koi Nation’s attempt to push through a proposal to jump into the territory of other tribes is wrong. Also, this is not the Koi Nation’s first attempt at reservation shopping. In the early 2000s, the Koi Nation attempted unsuccessfully to acquire a reservation and build a casino near Oakland International Airport. Then, in 2014, the Koi Nation offered a reservation and casino on Mare Island in the town of Vallejo, again failing. The Koi Nation now appears to be relaunching its attempt to enter the Bay Area market through its most recent application for the Shiloh Road site. This effort ignores federal law requiring restored tribes to demonstrate a significant historical connection to the lands on which they propose to play. Obviously, they have no connection with this county.

Greg Sarris, President, Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria

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