By Jerry Brown
Recent articles regarding North Fork tribe’s origin have been misleading and incorrect in their context. The Chowchilla (Chaushilha) Tribe of Yokuts is concerned that your readers are under the impression that the North Fork Tribe’s origin is in and around the City of Madera. They also are trying to substantiate that they are a landless tribe, when in fact they have privately owned land near the town of North Fork.
If, in 2004, the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians conducted the most thorough and extensive ethno historical studies ever conducted by a California tribe, why hasn’t it been shared or published with the Madera County community? Especially if it was a significant financial investment that took two years of research. It is known that Native American tribes have been in this area for tens of thousands of years. Wouldn’t it then be expected that there should be more than 7,000 local, state and federal documents analyzed? To enhance the legitimacy of your document in your favor based on unknown facts, it seems beneficial to interview a partial group, such as personal interviews held with tribal citizens and non-natives.
The 2005 letter from the Chowchilla (Chaushilha) Tribe of Yokut Indians endorsing the North Fork casino project echoed these sentiments fully: “Our (Chowchilla Tribe) existence in the area is known throughout the centuries by many historians, and it is also known that other aboriginal first Americans maintained villages within our boundaries and throughout the Central Valley. With this history both our sovereignties are maintained.”
We do not deny this statement; it has been our position that any tribe seeking economic success has our support as long as it is within their territorial boundaries. The proposed casino is definitely not in their territorial boundaries but within our aboriginal territory. The Monos say they were “the first farmers of the region on the Fresno Farm Reservation operated by federal agents in 1850’s near the current City of Madera.” If this is true, then why in the 1851 signing of the Camp Barbour Treaty, was there not one Mono signer? There were, however, five Chowchilla signers, along with those from other tribes, but no Mono signatures.
Our name Chaushilha Tribe has been interpreted as “Chowchilla” because of its Angelo phonetic version. Chaushilha has been confused with the Chaushila Yokuts (Mariposan) tribes in central California, north of the Fresno River, probably on the lower Chowchilla River, in the plains and lowest foothills, their neighbors on the north being of Moquelumnan stock. As a tribe they are now extinct. They are confused with, but are distinct from, the Chowchilla, under which name the synonymy of both is given.
The Chowchilla Tribe wants your readers as well as The Madera Tribune staff to understand that our objection to the Off-Reservation location is an issue that takes away our historical and ancestral land rights as a tribe, therefore we continue to be punished by the U.S. Government for its broken treaty, California Gov. Jerry Brown for his approval for economic gain, the City and County of Madera, for their support of the casino regardless of environmental issues, and the Sierra Star for its questioning of the Chowchilla Tribal Organizations’ right to seek funds, and not recognizing us as being the rightful and true Native Americans on the lands our forefathers left us.
If your staff had researched Chowchilla Tribal Organization it would have found it is a non-profit corporation of the Chowchilla Tribe of Yokuts. This is your direct link between the Chaushilha (Chowchilla) Tribe of Yokuts and the Chowchilla Tribal Organization.
For your readers’ interest, the following action will take place between the Wiyot Tribe, which is 434 miles away in Humboldt County, and the North Fork Monos, with the signing of the compact as described on the governors webpage:
Under the compact, the Wiyot Tribe would forego its right to game on its tribal lands along Humboldt Bay in Northern California in exchange for revenue payments from a gaming facility to be operated by the North Fork Mono Rancheria in Madera County. The compacts will provide an important economic stimulus to two of the most economically challenged regions in the U.S.
The North Fork Mono Rancheria will share a portion of its slot revenues with the trust fund benefiting the Wiyot Tribe. The fund will receive 2.5 percent of the first $100 million of net win, 3 percent of amounts between $100 and $200 million in net win, and 3.5 percent of net win over $200 million. The benefit is projected to be between $3 million and $5 million a year — nearly four times as much as the Wiyot Tribe currently receives in gaming allotments under state law.
The estimated revenue generated by the casino will be reduced by the distribution of gaming revenues to the Wiyot Tribe. Many Madera County residents had agreed to support the North Fork Rancheria’s development and construction of a 250,000-square foot casino and hotel, now they will lose several million dollars in county revenue, which will go to Humboldt County.
Question for your readers: How many supporters knew about the deal the North Fork Rancheria and the governor agreed to?
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Jerry Brown is tribal chair of the Chowchilla Tribe of Yokuts.