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Strong Police Presence Near Chukchansi Aimed At Curbing Violence

COARSEGOLD – Residents of Indian Lakes who were headed home this evening were met with a virtual wall of law enforcement at Road 417, allowing in only those who live in the area.

Both Road 417 and Lucky Lane near the Chukchansi Casino had CHP officers and sheriff’s deputies stationed at the entrances from Highway 41, showing a strong presence of law enforcement in an effort to prevent any blow up of tensions building between the two warring factions of the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians. It has been a year since the tribal factions split after a disputed election, with both sides claiming leadership of the Chukchansi Tribe. That dispute escalated into violence, with beatings and even a stabbing.

Tensions within the Chukchansi tribe have been brewing since last Thursday, Feb. 21, when Tribal Chairwoman Nancy Ayala conducted the election of a new council. Opponents are calling the election illegal, and there have been rumors of threatened violence.

There was a chaotic scene almost a year ago as two factions of the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians disputed over tribal council election results.

But it was a much different atmosphere Thursday night after a new council was elected under the direction of Tribal Chairwoman Nancy Ayala.

– See more at: http://abclocal.go.com/kfsn/story?section=news/local&;id=9003578#sthash.Qt9wEC7N.dpuf

But it was a much different atmosphere Thursday night after a new council was elected under the direction of Tribal Chairwoman Nancy Ayala.

– See more at: http://abclocal.go.com/kfsn/story?section=news/local&;id=9003578#sthash.Qt9wEC7N.dpuf

Staging area at Road 417 2-26-13Sheriff John Anderson is taking no chances of a repeat of what happened last year. Working with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office and Fresno Police, the CHP and the Madera Police and Sheriff’s Office, Anderson has assembled some 100 officers in the area of the casino. They have staged at Road 417, and plan to maintain a presence there all night if necessary to keep things tamped down.

“It is the Sheriff’s job to uphold the law and keep the peace,” said Madera County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Erica Stuart at the scene. “We don’t want to be in a position of restoring the peace after violence and mayhem has erupted.”

Stuart said Sheriff Anderson is, as this point, literally trying to broker some kind of peace between the two factions as he did last year, but he must also secure the safety of those who live in the nearby communities, such as Indian Lakes.

Local Residents Only sign 2-26-13“County law enforcement’s role in this situation is limited,” said Stuart, “but the tensions among the factions in the tribe is almost identical to what it was last year. The Sheriff has made a tactical decision to bring a strong law enforcement presence to let them know it’s not going to happen again.”

Anderson has been trying to bring the two sides together for a face-to-face meeting, and try to broker some sort of a peace deal. The Bureau of Indian Affairs has repeatedly declined to get involved in the various disputes among the Chukchansi, saying these are local tribal issues.

But Sheriff Anderson is determined to find a way to bring some sanity and reason to the situation. “Somebody’s gotta get these people together so that we’re not all standing out here in the cold all night trying to avoid violence.”

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