Groups argue Los Coyotes have no ties to Barstow
Jim Steinberg, Staff Writer
Posted: 07/30/2011 10:12:54 PM PDT

BARSTOW – San Bernardino County’s two American Indian tribes – both of which operate casinos – oppose a north San Diego County-based Indian tribe’s plan to open a $160 million casino here.

The San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians oppose the proposed casino and 100-room hotel advancing through the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs approval process.

On Wednesday night, the BIA held a public hearing on the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians’ plans for the casino near two outlet malls south of downtown Barstow.

The project has been in the works for 10 years.

Jacob Coin, a tribal spokesman, said in an interview Thursday that the San Manuels have long opposed the project and would continue to make their opposition known.

“The tribe is of the mind that this is an encroachment on their ancestral lands,” he said. Los Coyotes “have no historical ties to the (Barstow) area.”

Charles F. Wood, chairman of the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, based on the San Bernardino County side of Lake Havasu, said at the public hearing that his tribe opposes the casino for the same reason.

In 1999, during the statewide campaign to allow California tribes to have Nevada-style gambling on their land, the campaign’s organizers selected Los Coyotes tribal member Francine Kupsch to illustrate that many California Indians were experiencing poverty and to promote the desire for casinos as a path to Indian self-reliance.

Today the tribe is still without a casino and has electricity only about a mile past its border.

Meanwhile, the San Manuel reservation has many large homes, more than 3,000 slot machines, 130 table games and a 2,500-seat bingo hall.

The Chemehuevi tribe owns Havasu Landing Resort & Casino at Havasu Lake, Calif., across the Colorado River from Lake Havasu, Ariz.

With just 243 slots in its casino, the Chemehuevi “are not considered a gaming tribe,” Shirley Smith, vice chairwoman of the tribe, said Friday.

In an interview Wednesday night after the public hearing, Wood said the Chemehuevi would be resubmitting a proposal to build a casino in Barstow, a goal the tribe let lapse.

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