LAKEPORT – A small gathering held Friday in downtown Lakeport sought to rally community members' support for bringing new jobs to Lake County through a new Indian casino.
Nearly two dozen people, some of them members of the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo, along with members from other Pomo tribes around the lake, gathered in front of Courthouse Museum on Main Street.
They collected signatures to send to US Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and Congressman Mike Thompson, requesting there be a stop to off-reservation casinos.
Les Miller, one of the organizers, said they want to see a casino not in Richmond, where the tribe has been proposing to build a large facility, but here in Lake County.
They've proposed that their tribe look at Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa. Tribal officials haven't formally responded to the idea.
“We are not from Richmond,” Miller said Friday. “We will not move to Richmond.”
Miller and other tribal members spoke over a loud speaker and coaxed people to come over and support their plan.
“The situation is drastic out here in California, you feel me?” said Joe Thomas, a young Pomo. He later carried a sign along the perimeter of the park, which some drivers honked at as they drove by.
The rally drew support from other local natives, including Gary Thomas, whose wife is a Scotts Valley tribal member.
The Thomases had been living in Hayward but decided to come back to Lake County, where Gary Thomas and 24 of his family members were disenrolled from the Elem Colony in 2006. Now, he said his wife's tribe is facing turmoil over the casino question.
“No one wants to hear us,” he said about the concerns over disenrollment and injustices by tribal governments.
Raeven Shepherd, who has many family members who belong to Robinson Rancheria, told Lake County News stories of violent confrontations between her family and that tribe's leadership.
“I support positive outcomes and nothing good is happening because the people sitting in office are messing a lot of things up,” she said of tribal leadership.
As the rally took place during the lunch hour, County Administrative Officer Kelly Cox and Public Services Director Kim Clymire stopped to listen to the speakers, and they met and chatted with Miller.
Miller, who later continued speaking on the microphone, called the Richmond casino plan a “scam,” and said the tribes can't continue to keep secrets about their plans.
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