Ashland leaders are understandably concerned that efforts to restore recognition of a Siskiyou County Indian tribe could lead to a casino on this side of the border. But the chances of that are remote at best and probably years away. The city — as well as Jackson County and the state of Oregon — will have ample opportunity to be heard if the process even gets that far.
The source of concern is a bill before the U.S. House of Representatives that would restore the tribal status of Ruffey Rancheria, a group of Indians who historically inhabited villages in central Siskiyou County. The Ruffey group took its name from an elder known as Old Man Ruffey, and was also known as the Etna Band of Indians. The rancheria was granted 441 acres of land in 1907.
In 1958, Congress terminated the rancheria’s status along with several other rancherias and tribes. U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, who represents California’s 1st Congressional District, introduced HR 3535 to restore the tribe’s status.
Even if the bill eventually passes both houses of Congress, it would restore only 441 acres of land in Siskiyou County. The tribe could conceivably seek to build a casino in Southern Oregon if it purchased land here and convinced the Bureau of Indian Affairs to place the property in trust.
Oregon’s Coquille Tribe bought land in Medford in 2012 and started that process, predicting it could take three years. It’s already been six.
Ashland need not fear a casino anytime soon.