Morris Reid and members of his faction swept the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians’ tribal council election over the weekend. Though a stable council is a key element to getting the tribe’s casino reopened, doubts and turmoil remain within various groups.
Reid led votes with 201, followed by Harold Hammond with 199, Claudia Gonzales at 185, Dixie Jackson with 177, Tom Walker at 166, Nokomis Hernandez with 149, and Dora Jones at 143.
Four of the seven were past winners in the tribe’s 2011 election that began to form rifts in tribal ranks.
The four declined to assume office when Hammond was disqualified after an appeal was filed by a losing candidate that deemed him ineligible to serve.
Numerous factions and groups began to form as a result, which later led to a riot near the tribe’s offices in 2012 and the raid into Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino last October that led to its ongoing closure by federal agencies until tribal issues are worked out.
Reggie Lewis, chairman of the tribe’s current interim council, as well as Chance Alberta, also refused to step down when they lost in the 2011 election.
Alberta is currently under investigation by the Internal Revenue Service for his work in the Chukchansi Economic Development Authority. Alberta chose not to run, citing family and business reasons.
Lewis has promised to appeal the latest election’s results, claiming it was a tainted process when disenrolled members between 2010 to 2012 were allowed to vote. He reportedly told his supporters not to vote for him.
The Bee reported 32 people originally signed up to run in the weekend election, but that number declined to around two dozen by its finish.
Monica Davis, head of a faction formally run by Tex McDonald, who led the casino raid on Oct. 9, 2014, has said her group will hold its own election in December.
Luke Davis heads a faction with less than 50 tribal members who claim they’re true descendants of the Chukchansi. He told the Bee they’ve also established their own council and the latest election was “bogus.”