Waste of money, insult to tribe

Butte County has squandered over $600,000 on a futile effort

The author, a Chico State linguistics professor, is a member of Friends of the Mechoopda, a group supporting tribal sovereignty.

Why has Butte County wasted over $600,000 in court costs fighting the federally granted right for the Mechoopda to develop a casino on the tribe’s land over the last 10 years? Why does the Board of Supervisors continue to squander taxpayer resources on a legal dead end? And what can we as a community do about it?

Despite community opposition (including editorials in the local press opposing the board’s actions and supporting the Mechoopda’s rights) and losing another legal battle last summer in federal court, the county filed a new appeal in January without holding a public forum. Such an insulting move also demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the historical place of the Mechoopda in our community.

The Mechoopda tribe is both a sovereign nation recognized by the U.S. government and integral to Butte County. Its right to self-determination is guaranteed by federal law. The Mechoopda have obtained all the required permits to build a casino and develop 91 acres out of a 625-acre parcel. If the county’s appeal succeeds, it thwarts the Mechoopda’s economic development plans to provide funding for education, healthcare and eldercare from casino revenues.

Mechoopda tribal members are consistently responsible to our collective community by contributing their knowledge and practice of sustainable land practices and by educating children in our schools. Through their actions, they demonstrate an ability to balance traditional practices with responsible development of their lands.

As the Mechoopda nation strives to recover from a history of disenfranchisement and persecution, we are compelled to support their efforts toward economic independence. We live together on ancestral, indigenous lands, and Mechoopda contributions to Butte County should be valued and cultivated. This means respecting the cultural and educational contributions of the tribe and ending wasteful expenditures of taxpayer funds on already settled legal sovereignty matters.

Please contact the Butte County Board of Supervisors to put an end to these futile and unreasonable expenditures.