"They (lawmakers) really listen to them," said Saubel, who contends her tribe's remote, mountainous land in San Diego County is unsuitable for a casino. "We're ignored. They have all the lawyers and the money. We don't have anything. "They call themselves Indians. I call them greedy." Click here for article
Certainly Catherine Saubel, the elder of the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians has heard the saying about people in glass houses, or the one about the pot calling the kettle black. And someone ought to tell her the story of Pinocchio -- the wooden puppet whose nose grew longer with each false story he told.
Saubel’s not telling the whole truth. Her tribe is free to develop a modest sized casino on their reservation lands and could have done so by now but that’s not good enough. The tribe could open a class II casino like the Hard Rock Casinos in Florida with very little outside approval.
Saubel says her reservation is "unsuitable for a casino." Perhaps unsuitable for the kind of casino Barwest wants to build; or needs to build in order to satisfy the return the investors in their syndicate require. With the current Barstow Plan, her partners get to develop and manage two full-scale Las Vegas style resorts with a 5,000 total slots, two spas, convention faclilities, two hotels and more right beside Interstate-15 between Las Vegas and Southern California.
The Los Coyotes Indians have a 25,000 acre reservation. Their casino in Barstow was originally approved for 20 acres. Is she suggesting that there's no where on that entire reservation (the largest in San Diego County) with a 20 acre site suitable for construction? If that's the case, how will the reservation ever be a viable home for her people? And how is it that the Los Coyotes' neigbors at Santa Ysabel have been able to do it on a similar remote, mountainous ... and smaller reservation.
Saubel often tells the story of how her tribe didn’t have electricity on the reservation until 1998.
Guess what ... the neighboring Santa Ysabel Tribe didn’t get electricity until five years later and they’ve got three times the number of people living there. They opted to build a modest casino on their reservation, within existing guidelines, because they see it as a way to finance additional electricity, water and road improvements on their reservation lands. And it means jobs right there in their own backyard, not two or three hours away.
She talks about how her “home” doesn’t have running water of electricity. What she’s talking about is some place her family once called "home" on the vast 25,000 acre reservation back in the earlier part of the 20th Century. She hasn’t lived on the Los Coyotes Reservation since she was 4 years old. In fact she built her Museum and her home on the Morongo Reservation, 2 hours away by car, in Riverside County.
While Saubel has lived at the Morongo Reservation, and traveled the world, a new generation of leaders at the neighboring Santa Ysabel Tribe moved backed to their ancestral homelands and have built a brand new casino resort right in their own backyard; it’s less than 10-miles from the Los Coyotes Reservation.
The Santa Ysabel Reservation faces similar geographical challenges (and both reservations are similar drive times from Los Angeles); yet this week they opened their $27 million, 35,000-square-foot casino project which has 349 slot machines and was financed with a bank loan guaranteed by the Yavapai-Apache Nation of Arizona. Certainly the Arizona tribe and the lenders wouldn’t fund a project that didn’t appear to be feasible.
Apparently a modest casino is not satisfactory to Saubel; or those Detroiters who have adopted her tribe in order to exploit the opportunity to develop and manage her casino. Her tribe and their well-healed Detroit business partners seek to build a $168 million, 210,000 square foot casino, hotel, spa and convention complex with 2,546 slots, plus 48 table games and several poker rooms on land off-reservation and outside of the Los Coyotes Band's ancestral territory.
The Los Coyotes Reservation is the largest, by far, in San Diego County with 25,000 acres. Certainly there's a contiguous 10-20 acre parcel suitable for development.
Who's stepping on toes?
In relocating to Barstow, Saubel doesn’t think twice about squeezing out San Bernardino County tribes and others whose ancestors have survived the Mojave Desert for centuries -- tribes like the Chemehuevi or the Shoshone and others.
Who's spending $ Millions on lawyers, political campaigns and lobbying activity?
In fact, with her blessings, her development partners have spent at least half a million dollars this past year alone on political campaigns and lawyers in order to block San Bernardino County tribes and others from pursuing plans to develop a casino in Barstow. Those tribes have circumstances equal to or greater than Saubel’s tribe. There are no records to indicate they've had half a million dollars of out of state money spent to protect their ancestral claims this past year.
And the people behind Saubel have paid three lobbying firms more than $500,000.00 to represent Los Coyotes' interests in Sacramento this past year and another $100,000.00 the first 90-days of 2007 -- their objectives, trying to convince legislators that this move is good public policy; and damage the credibility of southern California based tribes including Saubel's Cahuilla brothers and sisters.
Let's not forget the $1.1 million Saubel's Los Coyotes Tribe gets from the established gaming tribes' trust fund each year.
Where's that check going and how's that money being managed?
The individiual representing herself as a wise and measured elder who questions the fellowship and integrity of other regional tribes should look deep within her own soul before she makes sensational comments in the future. In doing so today she brings shame to all parties including herself, her tribe and fellow Cahuilla people and perpetuates an unfortunate stereotype.