Casino expansion versus land holding?


Napoles family members holding up trespass citations.

Napoles family members holding up trespass citations.

A land dispute on the Bishop Indian Reservation produced a protest Monday and claims that the Tribal Council has taken over land to expand the Casino and build a motel.

Rick Napoles said his family holds a land assignment where the Tribe wants to take over. He said his aunt, Janice Geraldine Pasqua holds Block 3, lots 6, and 7. Napoles said that the Tribal Council has denied this assignment and “want to claim it for Casino expansion,” he said.

Napoles also said that last July, tribal members voted down the idea of expanding the Casino. Then in March of this year, he said, the Tribal Council “decided to take charge of our land assignment.” He said the Council sent a letter to his brothers ordering livestock off the property for the building of a fence.

savenopahaprotest2Napoles said that’s why his family carried out a protest Monday. He also said the Tribal Police Officer handed his family members citations for trespass. They have a court date June 17th. Napoles said his family has “a preponderance of evidence on the family land assignment.” He said this court appearance will give the family a chance to show that the land is theirs and there was no trespass. He added that the Owens Valley Tribal Board passed resolution #127 granting his aunt the three plots of land.

We called or emailed all of the five Bishop Tribal Council members for their response. We did speak with Vice Chairman Bill Vega who said, “The Tribal Council needs to prepare a statement. We will convene in a week. We’d like to make a statement. I am out of town right now,” he said.

Council member Monty Bengochia was vague in his response. At one point he said the Council “is not trying to take their family land.” He referred us to a Tribal newsletter which spoke to this land issue. That article says that the Tribal Council decided 8 years ago to maintain control of the two lots for “economic development purposes.” The article says this decision was upheld by the current Tribal Council after consideration of “all facts and documents surrounding this issue.” The article says that two descendants of the original tribal designee of the land “agreed to seek land assignments elsewhere on the reservation.”

As for whether expansion of the Casino and construction of a motel is imminent, Bengochia said that would be up to the Economic Development Corporation of the Tribe. He claims the plan is under a feasibility study.

The other Council members – Chairman Chad Delgado, Earleen Williams, and Kristopher Hohag – have not yet answered calls or emails.


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50 Responses to Casino expansion versus land holding?

  1. Desert Tortoise June 10, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    One has to wonder if the State Legislature would have entered into the original gaming compact if they knew then what we know today. I see very little good and much that is bad has come from Indian gaming. I know that is not a universally shared sentiment so fire away and give me all the thumbs downs you desire. It is my honest and heart felt opinion.

    • The Aggressive Progressive June 10, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

      From your previous posts I am not surprised you feel this way!

      Desert Tortoise, if you have any compassion for your fellow human/Americans than you should see that the American Indian has faced and still faces extreme social injustice, Indian gaming is the closest american Indians have been able to come to having “tribal sovereignty” and “self determination”… that because of the laws of this nation undermine it’s very own agreements and treaties, just look read the recent story on this site, that shows proof how the Paiutes, Shoshones and Monos were treated like second class citizens…

      I’ve been watching this video religiously the last couple of weeks, everybody else should too if they ever found themselves speaking about Indian politics or tribal sovereignty..

      I hope you watch it desert, with a open heart…

      • Desert Tortoise June 11, 2014 at 7:38 am #

        Progressive, I am hardly unaware of the tragedies our nation inflicted on the native Americans. But I also think that what is called “indian gaming” has been at best a mixed blessing for the tribes. We have set up a situation where the only way the tribes can make an income is through what is usually considered to be a vice, gambling. Moreover, we now see examples of an old saying I like, that money is not inherently evil, but the presence of money will very quickly reveal all the other motives that drive people, often bad motives.

        In this case we see a tribe running people off their land so that land may be used to generate more gambling revenues. We have seen multiple other instances where tribal members have been declared by one faction of a tribe to not be members of that tribe and the losing faction driven from the reservation. Why? Driving out the losing faction means there are fewer families to split up the proceeds of gambling. BIA and the tribes never developed strong enough institutions to prevent such injustices by tribes on their members. Tribal governments are too weak to counter the sorts of corruption that lead to these injustices.

        We also permit tribes to plop these big casinos wherever they please and they are not required to provide any sort of mitigation for the impacts on the adjacent communities. I saw this at multiple casinos in San Diego County when I lived down there. A huge casino rises up on a two lane rural road in the San Diego County back country and is quickly jammed with cars. Non-tribal member locals suffer enormously from this traffic, through traffic to other communities for residents and deliveries becomes almost impossible. Weekends are sheer hell for anyone not associated with the tribe. If the county needs to widen and improve roads to handle the increased traffic, or if water and sewage systems have to be upgraded to support all these new users, the reservation is under no obligation to pay even a little part of any of these costs. Most tribes simply refuse to contribute to these improvements forced on counties by their development on tribal lands and the rest of the county gets stuck with the bill. Also look at the games the Chumash are playing with Santa Barbara County and the community of Santa Ynez. They are trying to get a legislator from a different district, one they donate campaign cash to, to sponsor legislation in Congress to tie the hands of Santa Barbara County on this matter by declaring the non tribal land the tribe seeks to develope as tribal land. This member of congress is being paid by the tribe to do an end run around the local member of Congress. The behavior of the Chumash in this instance is deplorable.

        I have to believe that if the Legislature that approved the gaming compact for this state could have forseen the situation today, there would not have been any compact, or it would have been written much differently. I do not think a reasonable person can disagree with that either in light of the compact’s history in this state. I sincerely wish we as a nation has granted the tribes a monopoly on some other useful industry, say making survival equipment for the military or training them to operate and maintain national parks adjacent to tribal lands.

        • The Aggressive Progressive June 11, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

          Give me a break DT!

          This current America has no culture, the only value most of us share is consumerism! This society makes me sick!

        • Pedro June 11, 2014 at 7:35 pm #

          DT No one granted a monopoly. States are free to legalize gambling.
          “We also permit tribes to plop these big casinos wherever they please…” HUH? US Supreme Court has ruled states cannot tax, or restrict development on tribal lands.
          Establishing new tribal casinos off reservation is going through the courts currently. I don’t know of any that already exist. Might be the smart thing to do. Put the casinos in the middle of the cities so you eliminate the rural problems you speak of.

          Doubt the State wants to give up the option to control gambling for their own profit and sure there is plenty of lobbying and payola from non tribal corporations to make sure tribes are kept out of that market. As far as casinos not paying their fair share of cost to neighborhood, you just described business as usual in the US for many industries.

          Still, I may boycott Paiute Palace to support this family in a fair resolution.

          • Desert Tortoise June 12, 2014 at 7:37 am #

            Pedro,partially correct. The Supreme Court ruling requires tribes to sign agreements with their respective states in order to operate casinos in those states. Tribes cannot legally operate casinos in states that do not agree to permit them. My point is that if our Legislature knew how things would eventually turn out, the compact with the tribes would have most likely been written very differently that it currently is, with requirements that tribes pay to ameliorate the traffic, water, sewer and other impacts of their casinos on surrounding communities at the very least, and also some explicit statements regarding use of non-tribal lands. These problems were not envisioned when the pacts were written, the big fear was the opportunity it presented organized crime, and thus those impacts are not addressed in the current pact and will probably be very difficutl or impossible to include in any future pact.

            Your statement that operation of indian gaming casinos off tribal lands not being permitted is flat wrong. Such casinos exist today. Examples are the casinos operated by the United Auburn Indian Community and the Plaskenta Band of the Nomiaki Indians. Congress can grant these exceptions and often does. The Santa Ynez band of Chumash Indians are attempting to annex non tribal lands to their tribe because they are claiming that the expansion planned for their existing casino leaves them no land for homes. They bought a parcel from a famous actors estate, and have recruited Representative Doug LaMalfa from Richvale CA to sponsor legislation in Congress annexing the land to the tribe. The tribe is not in Richvale’s district and he is doing this against the express wishes of the Santa Barbara BOS and the representative of the district the tribe is in. It is very sleazy what they are doing.

            Read the following link for more information:


          • Ken Warner June 12, 2014 at 9:45 am #

            I say, MORE GAMBLING! Turn the Owens Valley into another Las Vegas. Fits right in the idea that tourism is godlike.

            THINK OF THE MONEY!!!

          • Pedro June 12, 2014 at 9:17 pm #

            Flat wrong? United Auburn Indian Community was given tribal recognition and 20 acres. The Feds later stripped their recognition and sold most of their land. After years the recognition was restored and tribe was granted 49 acres. THEN the casino was built. Thus tribal casino on tribal land. Thus no “plopping of casinos wherever they please.”

            Santa Barbara affair is no more sleazy than Los Angeles lobbying Washington to void treaties in Owens Valley to obtain land, many current uses of eminent domain, or sweetheart deals for oil companies etc. Just business as usual. Guess assimilation did work after all. The USA should be proud.

          • Pedro June 12, 2014 at 9:24 pm #

            P.S. I am boycotting casino and gas station until this is resolved. Don’t want to encourage bullying.

          • Desert Tortoise June 13, 2014 at 8:09 am #

            The Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians have a casino going up more than 100 miles from their reservation on non-tribal land in Barstow.

            The Federal Government can approve off reservation casinos and has done so in cases where states have no say in the matter due to some tribes qualifying for exceptions in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. This is the case with the Cloverdale Rancheria of Pomo Indians who are also building a casino off tribal lands. In the case of the Los Coytoes Band, the Governor and State Legislature in conjunction with Federal authorities approved the off reservation site in Barstow.

            Off reservation gaming is real and may have deliterious effects on the surrounding community if not well regulated and if tribes are not required to help offset the effects of their casinos on traffic and their demands on public services.

          • Pedro June 14, 2014 at 7:44 am #

            Barstow casino does not have final permits, is not “going up” yet, and has support of Barstow. Barstow site will lessen impacts you complain of, traffic is already headed to Vegas and reservation wild-lands will be preserved. Coverdale has not finalized plans or broken ground.

            Again, off reservation casinos could help mitigate the problems you speak to. Let the customers deal with it in their own neighborhoods. Maybe Paiute Palace could expand to Mammoth, they always seem open to a get rich quick boondoggle.

  2. Former Paiute Palace Employee June 10, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

    I have immense respect for the native americans in this country. I also have quite a few friends and acquaintances around town who are native american and adore their friendship. But I have no respect for the tribal council or Paiute Palace.

    A lot of stray animals come out of the reservation that are unfixed/unneutered. The paiute council didn’t donate a single penny towards the new animal shelter and don’t seem to care that the county ends up picking up their problem, on their dime.

    Additionally, the Paiute Palace hires and fires people within their company at an alarming rate. When I worked there, the new employee numbers being assigned were up to about 2500. And they assign those numbers in order. That means that close to 2,500 people have worked at Paiute Palace since they opened in the 90’s. Inyo County has what…18,000 people living here? There’s something wrong with a place that has that high of a turn over rate.

    • Trouble June 11, 2014 at 5:49 am #

      Former Paiute- you brought up several good points. I personnally have heard about several people being fired or let go for crazy reasons. Your comments make me want to take back my other post on this matter.

    • Bob June 11, 2014 at 10:31 am #

      I have heard others around the valley complain about the secretive uncooperative tribal council.

      That employee turn over at the Palace is called churn and if it’s excessive it usually means there’s a bigger problem.

  3. Trouble June 10, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

    If it brings good paying local jobs, it’s good. I find it hard to believe they can’t find other property to appease the neighbors.

    • Icn June 11, 2014 at 11:48 am #

      So what your saying is they should just give this family a different families plot of land? Maybe they can ask the county or dwp for more land because that happens all the time? This land had been given to this particularly family when the tribal lands were developed by the government, it’s not that easy to just hand out it’s of land.

      • Trouble June 12, 2014 at 5:58 am #

        O.K. I admit I was wrong. I thought the tribe had more control of the land than they clearly do. I do hope they get this worked out. The Bishop Reservation is unique and important to all of Bishop .Being in the center of the City of Bishop makes their improvements key to all of Bishops successes.

    • Bob June 11, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

      There will never be any economy in the Eastern Sierra other than the tourist economy which is primarily low paying jobs.

      • Ken Warner June 11, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

        Bob: so true. And it’s only because the ruling class has blinders on. There’s so many different industries that would mesh perfectly with the East Side.

        It’s not my problem….

        • Desert Tortoise June 12, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

          Care to name some of these industries that would mesh so well? Transportation into and out of the valley is a huge restraint to growth, but even moreso is the position of so many locals that the valley is to be preserved as-is. Urban development would make the effects of LADWP actions look like a minor inconvenience.

          • Benett Kessler June 12, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

            Speaking of LADWP, they are not likely to release the land and water needed for development of industries.
            Benett Kessler

          • Bob June 12, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

            Any industry that provided better jobs would bring more people to the area. More people puts more demand on the environment and requires more water.

            If it ever happens it won’t be good for the Eastern Sierra over time.

          • Ken Warner June 12, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

            DT: Why should I do that? All it will get me is more vitreal like you just generously gave. The geniuses that run the East Side know what to do but they have decided that the current status quo is adequate for them. As long as the cheap, unskilled labor keeps pouring in.

          • Ken Warner June 12, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

            Benett: What land? What water? You are fighting imaginary demons again.

          • Benett Kessler June 12, 2014 at 6:07 pm #

            Ken, There is nothing imaginary about the fact that LA owns 98% of the private land surrounding all the communities of Inyo County. Of course, they also control all the water. If anyone wants to establish industry, these are the realities they will deal with. Most people want to build adjacent to infrastructure. According to the Inyo-LA agreement, there is a limited amount of water available to all the towns. Benett

          • Pedro June 12, 2014 at 9:27 pm #

            Ya, they sure have a lock on Shoshone.

          • Philip Anaya June 13, 2014 at 7:22 am #

            I would like to see the development of Higher Education here in the Owens Valley . For starters, is there is a better place for a School that would benefit from the Earth laboratory that we surrounds us here in the Inyo ? An expanded Cerro Coso could easily accomodate Earth Sciences and Earth Sciences Management . There should be the opportunity for a 4 year degree and eventually post graduate studies. It is fortunate to have Cerro Coso here but why is Cerro Coso a part of a college district that is headquartered in Kern County? The development of higher education would mean growth and development. DWP would certainly have to meet it’s obligations to sell it’s surplus lands for that growth. The self determination issues and freedoms of the open market place for the Owens Valley have been limited and stymied forever.
            Getting back to the subject of this report , I hope that the issues of the Tribe here in Bishop find a resolution that can strengthen the bonds between the members.

      • Trouble June 12, 2014 at 6:01 am #

        Bob- never is a long time and you leave out DWP, Edison and the City of L.A.’s dependance on our Water and Power sources.

        • Bob June 12, 2014 at 8:15 am #

          Hi Trouble,

          I’m not sure what your point is other then DWP and Edison are both excellent employers.

          • Trouble June 13, 2014 at 6:06 am #

            Bob, you said way up there, there would never be a economy here other than tourist . I just wanted to point out that our water and ability to manufacture cheap power up here is surely one of our biggest industries .

          • Bob June 13, 2014 at 9:39 am #

            Since when is power cheap? 😉

          • Trouble June 14, 2014 at 7:13 am #

            Bob-Water and Power is dirt cheep for DWP up here. Hell, DWP basically stole the water rights and are being allowed to steal our ground water as we speak. Just because they piss away all their profits and over feed their pot belly employees, doesn’t mean we don’t have some of the cheapest and most plentiful resources in the world.

          • Ken Warner June 14, 2014 at 9:40 am #

            Water scarcity already affects every continent. Around 1.2 billion people, or almost one-fifth of the world’s population, live in areas of physical scarcity, and 500 million people are approaching this situation. Another 1.6 billion people, or almost one quarter of the world’s population, face economic water shortage (where countries lack the necessary infrastructure to take water from rivers and aquifers).

            Water scarcity is among the main problems to be faced by many societies and the World in the XXIst century. Water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century, and, although there is no global water scarcity as such, an increasing number of regions are chronically short of water.


  4. Ron June 11, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

    You can see the whole story on Facebook SaveNorthPaha including all the background and documents. Thank you.

    • Bill June 14, 2014 at 10:57 am #

      Didn’t the tribe vote against the casino expansion ?

      • Benett Kessler June 14, 2014 at 11:53 am #

        The Napoles people said the tribal members did vote against the casino expansion.
        Benett Kessler

      • Bill June 15, 2014 at 8:36 pm #

        So let me get this straight tribe voted against the expansion of the casino, so why is the council still trying to grab the land?

  5. Paiute Native June 13, 2014 at 7:03 am #

    I am a Tribal member and I say This “Seedy-Corrupt” tribal counciL that we have now, stealing people’s Lands just to make money off of the Victim’s Lands, Not just the Napoles’s there are others who”s Lands are stolen and rented out for rental income Yes there Is Lots of EviL goings ons that is so far hiding behind sovereign immunity But one thing is for sure ea. and every one of Them Is gonna answer one way or another for the things they have AND are are currently DOING 🙂

  6. Bone June 13, 2014 at 11:53 am #

    WOW!!!!!! Where could the tribal council have learned such sneaky and illegal moves such as kicking people off of their land?? At least the US govt.gave the Indians a new piece of land when they took the land they wanted.

    • Trouble June 14, 2014 at 7:19 am #

      Bone- you are being to nice. I think you are greatly understating what our Govt. did to the American Indians.

  7. RAM June 13, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    When I went and watched the Manzanar fishing club in Lone Pine the movie maker said he got absolutely no cooperation from the Tribal Council, and he only wanted to know is if any Paiutes had fished with any Japanese at the camp.

  8. Lord KAW June 14, 2014 at 8:45 am #

    It’s painfully obvious, The current Tribal Council doesn’t understand the gravity of the situation, Because what happened in Cedarville Rancheria Tribal Office, up in Alturas, CA is close to Happening in Bishop! And don’t think for a minute that it can’t, because it can and will, if these Dirty council leaders don’t follow the will of the People before it’s too Late 🙁

    “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee”. Ezekiel 25:17

    • Pedro June 16, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

      Those struck down in Cedarville should remind us that The Lord may hand out vengeance, but we should not. My prayers are for peace and healing in Cedarville as in Bishop.

  9. Bob June 16, 2014 at 9:56 am #

    Until the Indians assimilate into society they will continue to digress..

    Get off the res, and get a life, or sit back and watch the World move on.

    • Pedro June 16, 2014 at 9:39 pm #

      Your profound insults must convince many that your society is superior and entice them to assimilate. Then again, if it is so superior, why hasn’t it assimilated or annihilated all others? some societies have seen others come and go and may be happy to see your world move on.

    • Trouble June 17, 2014 at 6:54 am #

      Wow Bob, I know of several hundred of very successful Americans living here on the res. You should take time to meet some of them .

      P.S. they can speak english now days, so be careful what you say.

      • Bob June 17, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

        I’ve heard a Bishop P.D. officer say he’d feel better going on the Res. if he could carry a couple hand grenades.

        • Trouble June 18, 2014 at 5:45 am #

          Bishop P.D. doesn’t cover the res. and if he said that he should not be allowed to. I really think you are wrong. 99% of the people on the res. are very good hearted folks.

          • Bob June 18, 2014 at 8:06 am #

            I wouldn’t make something up like that. But I also won’t give a name.

  10. rude gesture June 16, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

    What you seem to be saying, Bob, is that if everyone was just like you, the world would be a better place. Everyone could think like you, act like you, worship like you, buy consumer products like you, vote like you, and everything would be just ducky.

    I don’t know, Bob . . . I think maybe you’re missing something . . . something important . . .


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