Native American Casino to Open in Downtown Nevada City

The new home of the Nisenan Rancheria Casio located in downtown Nevada City.
The new home of the Nisenan Rancheria Casino located in downtown Nevada City.

Nevada City, CA — Despite a busy governing season which has included new ordinances on chemtrails, police politeness and most recently, strict new rules on business sign fonts, the City Council of Nevada City has given its blessing to the Nevada City Nisenan Rancheria to open a Native American gaming casino in the old Alpha Building on Broad Street. The announcement, which comes as a surprise due to recent Federal Court rulings denying the ancient local tribe access to its nearby ancestral lands, is seen as a great compassionate gesture by both community and local leadership.

“With all the terrible things that are happening in North Dakota, we felt that we had to do something to make right by our local Native Americans,” said Nevada City Mayor Evans Phelps who sponsored the ordinance. “The Nisenan Rancheria was granted to the their people in 1913 by President Woodrow Wilson and then illegally seized by Congress in 1964 for no reason other than to promote land development on Cement Hill. Although we can not change to the current Federal Court orders, which have denied them access to their lands, we can make this small and important gesture by allowing them to occupy the location on Broad Street. So I do hereby claim that the Alpha Building is now part of the Nisenan Rancheria.”

The Nisenan were originally part of a 1983 class action lawsuit brought by a Pomo Indian woman named Tillie Hardwick. Ms. Hardwick was instrumental in restoring Native American ancestral lands which were taken without due process starting in the 1940s, but coming to a head in 1956 with the passing of the Indian Relocation Act of 1956 and later the more aggressive California Rancheria Termination Act. The controversial legislation “encouraged” Native Americans to abandon their mostly rural lands granted to them by President Woodrow Wilson and move to more urban areas. It is estimated that between the 1950s and 1980s, as many as 750,000 Native Americans migrated to the cities, some as part of the relocation program, others on their own. By the 2000 census, the urban Indian population was 64% higher than it had been in the pre-termination era of the 1940s.

In 1983, Ms. Hardwick filed a class action lawsuit against the Federal Government demanding that the Rancherias return to their rightful owners. Although she was successful in restoring most tribes’ land, the Nevada City Nisenan  and their Cement Hill territory were left off the class action due to a clerical error as court documents demonstrate. As recently as 2016, the tribe attempted to get themselves re-included into the class action, but both a San Jose Federal District Court and more recently in 2016, the 9th District Court of Appeals in San Francisco rejected their motion because the statute of limitations had passed. Those tribes whose land was restored have been called “Hardwick Indians.” The Nisenan, now are known as “clerical errors.”

As for the new casino, details are slim, and tribal elders have yet to comment. It is expected to open sometime in 2018.


Federal District Court in 2014 decision

The recent 9th Circuit Appeal in 2016

Randall 'fink' Finkelstein
Randall 'fink' Finkelstein
Fink is a man of many words, and many web links. He likes to argue and seldom loses. Mostly because he’s well informed. And somewhat gassy.

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