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Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino | by www78
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Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino

The largest Indian Casino in the San Joaquin Valley and Gold Country Regions, the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino was opened in 2002 by the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians, featuring 1800 slot machines, 43 card rooms, and 400 hotel rooms. It is located in Coarsegold on HWY41 on the way to Yosemite. In 2006, Grizzly Stadium in Fresno was renamed Chukchansi Park.


I first came across the Chukchansi while listening to a radio broadcast of This American Life,

involving an ugly intratribal dispute over tribal identity. In short, around 2003 one group previously in control of the tribal government elected to dis-enroll hundreds of members of the Chukchansi tribe. As tribal members shared in the profits of the casino, another faction arose claiming that the head of the tribe were purposefully removing members, including some of the last native speakers of the Chukchansi language, in order to keep more of the profits to themselves (indeed one family led a lawsuit claiming that they were the SOLE members of the Chukchansi. The lawsuit was thrown out). Enrollment fell from 1800 members to just 900. In 2013, the faction opposing disenrollment won the election, but the previous faction refused to cede the council. When the new faction attempted to take over "city hall", a riot broke out as pepper spray and burning logs were thrown in.


After the This American Life broadcast, things apparently went even worse, culminating in a 2014 incident where armed tribal members confronted each other in the middle of the casino, driving out gamblers, causing police and sheriff to intervene and the casino to shut down until the next year:

Whether it was over disenrollment or over poor auditing apparently depends on who you ask. It seems like the group opposing disenrollment is now in control, and the tribe has grown back up to 1200 members.

Coarsegold, California

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Taken on October 1, 2016