California Tribe’s Loan Fuels Casino Suspicions

Officials in California’s wine country are always on the lookout for suspicious activities by Indian tribes, who they worry might build a casino in Napa Valley. So they are suspicious about a loan the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians have made to a local winery.

Officials in Napa Valley, California, who read almost any action by the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians as a possible portent for a move to build a casino, are reading much into the tribe’s decision last week to give a million loan to the owners of the Jamieson Ranch Vineyards.

The money for the loan comes from profits from the tribe’s Class III casino in San Pablo, 18 miles from San Francisco. A spokesman for the tribe noted that the tribe did not purchase any land and the only way it would obtain any of the winery’s 300 acres would be if the winery defaulted on the loan.

Napa County Supervisor Mark Luce is not so sure. The Board of Supervisors is vigilant against any casino proposals for California’s wine country. That includes opposing the Mishewal Wappo Tribe of Alexander Valley’s quest to gain federal recognition.

Luce told the Napa Valley Register, “It’s definitely concerning. So much of this is out of our control. We continue to make state and federal officials aware of this problem.”

In recent years the Lytton Band has purchased a total of 1,300 acres for $47 million. It claims that it wants to build a homeland for itself in Senoma County, not Napa.