Tribal members, meeting behind closed doors at the grade school in North Fork, learned their former tribal leader Jacqueline Davis Van Huss is accused of using a tribal credit card for personal use. She has been replaced as head of the tribe by former chairperson Elaine Bethel Fink.
Elaine Bethel Fink said, "It's not a big divisive issue at all but we hold a high standard as far as tribal council and our council members have to abide by that."
Van Huss helped guide the tribe through its plan to build a casino north of Madera, along Highway 99, about 30 miles from the tribe's Rancheria, or reservation. While the federal government has yet to approve making the land tribal property, governor Schwarzenegger has already negotiated a compact with the tribe, which could give the state $25-million dollars a year.
Bethel fink says the change in tribal leadership won't affect the deal saying, "It's not gonna cause any problems whatsoever."
The tribal meeting did not go off without a hitch. A former tribal council member created a disturbance outside the meeting, accusing tribal leaders of corruption, claiming they threatened to kick him out of the tribe, or dis-enroll him for speaking out. Other casino tribes in the area have been accused of dis-enrolling members to keep them from getting any casino revenue.
Chairperson Elaine Bethel Fink said it's not happening in the North Fork Tribe. "We're not gonna dis-enroll people just for the sake of dis-enrolling, no, in fact we've increased our membership, our citizenship."
Final approval on the casino is months away, and two other tribes with casinos in the area, Table Mountain and Chuckchansi are trying to stop the casino from being built.
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