COARSEGOLD – While residents on Road 417 may have been concerned about today’s presence of law enforcement near the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino, the Madera County Sheriffs Office (MCSO) says the response was simply to assist with a civil matter involving a trespass.
Deputies responded earlier today to reports of a dispute at the former tribal council offices for the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians which operates the Coarsegold casino.
According to Kayla Serratto, MCSO’s public information officer, deputies determined the report was a “civil” matter and as of 4 p.m. Monday, were no longer at the scene.
“We responded to a report of possible trespass,” Serratto said. “It was determined to be a civil dispute, not a criminal matter.”
Serratto said deputies provided “a brief civil standby” at the location on Road 417 and then left the scene.
“Anything that may or may not be ongoing is being handled by the tribal government,” Serratto added.
Operations inside the casino and at the resort were not impacted by Monday’s incident, according to a tribal representative, who told Sierra News Online Monday afternoon the situation was “not even a tribal government dispute.”
“It’s really just a trespassing issue,” the spokesperson added. “Some individuals had been staying there for their own personal issue.”
Only one of the individuals escorted off the property by tribal security police was reported to be a tribal member.
The tribal council issued a brief statement about the incident, reading, in part: “Today the Tribal Council instructed a team to enter and vacate the declining buildings of our former Tribal Government Offices. More than anything, it is a safety concern as the buildings have structural issues and were never intended for personal use…”
The statement from the tribal council was released through a Fresno advertising agency that handles external tribal communications and marketing for the casino resort.
That statement also said plans were underway to “remove the current damaged structures” at the old tribal government offices.
The tribal spokesperson said the possessions of all of the individuals escorted from the property “are being held in a secure storage facility.”
Disputes over enrollment and tribal leadership have roiled the Picayune Rancheria for a number of years. In October 2014, a federal judge closed the Chukchansi Casino for more than 14 months after a violent confrontation between rival leadership factions broke out on the casino floor.