Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians

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Picayune Rancheria
of Chukchansi Indians
Total population
1200 enrolled members (2010)[1]
Regions with significant populations
 United States ( California)
English, Chukchansi
traditional tribal religion, Christianity
Related ethnic groups
other Yokuts people[2]

The Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians of California is a federally recognized tribe of indigenous people of California. They are Chukchansi or Foothills Yokuts. Picayune Rancheria is the tribe's ranchería, located in Madera County in central California.[1]


The tribe's headquarters is located in Coarsegold, California. They are governed by a democratically elected, seven-member tribal council. The current administration is as follows.

  • Chairman: Reggie Lewis
  • Vice-Chairwoman:
  • Secretary:
  • Treasurer: Chance Alberta
  • Member at Large:
  • Member at Large: jonjonl[3]


Founded in 1912,[2] the Picayune Rancheria (37°12′41″N 119°42′03″W / 37.21139°N 119.70083°W / 37.21139; -119.70083) is 160 acres (650,000 m2) large and located in Madera County, in Coarsegold, California.[1] The community of Yosemite Lakes is also nearby.

Economic development[edit]

The tribe owns and operates the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino, California Market Buffet, Goldfield's Cafe, Noodle Bar, Vintage Steakhouse, and Bakery, all located in Coarsegold.[4] The Casino owns the naming rights to Chukchansi Park in Fresno.

Disenrollment Controversy[edit]

Since the 2003 opening of the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino the Chukchansi Tribe has been one of the leading tribes known for disenrolling its own members. Disenrollment is the process by which a tribe strips members of their tribal affiliation thus denying those members the benefits associated with Federal tribal affiliation such as education benefits, land and property rights on reservations, tax benefits, medical benefits, and payments to the tribe from tribal sources of money including money from casinos owned by the tribe as well as child care and elder care.[5][6] Since 2003 hundreds of tribal members have been disenrolled allowing the remaining tribal members to receive larger portions of the income from the casino. The tribe has disenrolled people with documented ancestry, land rights granted by the Federal Government and some of the last native speakers of the Chukchansi language. By 2013 the tribal membership had gone from an estimated 1800 members to an estimated 900 members. In a now thrown-out court case in 2012, the Ramirezes family argued that only the members of their family were legitimate Chukchansi tribe members.[5][7] In February 2012 leaders who opposed the policies of disenrollment were elected to the tribal council by a majority vote. However, the incumbent council members invalidated the elections and refused to step down to the newly elected leaders. This resulted in supporters of the newly elected leaders staging protest were they occupied the “City Hall” building. The supporters of the incumbents then showed up and began throwing pepper-spray and burning logs into the building the protesters were occupying. Sheriffs deputies from Fresno and Madera Counties as well as the California Highway Patrol were called to break up the resulting riots.[5][8]

In February 2014 the Bureau of Indian Affairs stepped in and reappointed the 2010 Tribal Council in an attempt to temporarily resolve the dispute until a new Tribal Council was voted on. They decided to reappoint the 2010 leadership as that was the last year when the BIA could determine that there was an uncontested Tribal Council election.[9]


  1. ^ a b c "California Indians and Their Reservations: P." San Diego State University Library and Information Access. 2010. Retrieved 26 Nov 2012.
  2. ^ a b Pritzker 159
  3. ^ "Tribal Council." Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians. Retrieved 26 Nov 2012.
  4. ^ "Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino." 500 Nations. Retrieved 26 Nov 2012.
  5. ^ a b c [1] ‘’Tribes Transcript from This American Life on NPR . Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  6. ^ [2] ‘’Chukchansi Dispute Reviewed’' Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  7. ^ [3] Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  8. ^ [4]
  9. ^ [5]


  • Pritzker, Barry M. A Native American Encyclopedia: History, Culture, and Peoples. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-19-513877-1.

External links[edit]