Casino development impacts our culture

2012-10-08T21:34:00Z Casino development impacts our culture Napa Valley Register
October 08, 2012 9:34 pm

It is obvious that the Mishewal Wappo, if recognized as a tribe with sovereign rights in the Napa Valley, intend to build a casino.

The opening of a casino here would irreparably harm the integrity of our valley’s winemaking culture and economy. This culture and economy are integral to the livelihoods of local residents, and also to a range of incredibly good philanthropic works.

Auction Napa Valley has raised more than $100 million to benefit local medical, youth and housing nonprofit initiatives. Our local winemaking culture is the core attraction for patrons to come from all over the world to support the auction.

Furthermore, my family’s own Music Festival for Mental Health has been the primary instrument in raising more than

$140 million for research for better therapies and cures for mental illnesses, inspiring hope and changing lives in the Napa Valley and internationally.

This annual event is underwritten by the sales of my family’s wines, and one of its main attractions is a wine tasting reception in which many generous local vintners participate.

The judge in the Wappo lawsuit for tribal recognition’s decision, that Napa and Sonoma counties have no relevant interests to protect and thus cannot argue in opposition, is ignorant and unjust.

It ignores all of the incredibly good things going on Napa and Sonoma’s valleys right now — things which depend on our winemaking culture and economy, and hang in the balance.

Although Napa and Sonoma counties are presently barred from opposing the lawsuit, local residents are not. This is why I am speaking out. I will fax the secretary of the interior later today.

I believe Napa and Sonoma residents should take every action available to oppose casino development.

Brandon Staglin / Napa

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(23) Comments

  1. vocal-de-local
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    vocal-de-local - October 09, 2012 12:01 am
    Agree. Perhaps a collective effort on the part of the people is due. Who should we write to? Should we start a petition? Gaming interests and their methods of gaining a foothold need to be challenged.
  2. Dude Abiding
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    Dude Abiding - October 09, 2012 6:07 am
    The wine culture is definitely important, but how would a casino hurt it? People at casinos don't drink wine? That can't be it. Cultures can co-exist next to each other, and perhaps it is time for the native culture to have a chance to regrow.
  3. naparealestate
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    naparealestate - October 09, 2012 6:46 am
    Thank you for putting your name on such an important issue!
  4. rocketman
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    rocketman - October 09, 2012 7:09 am
    I would like a couple of examples how an Indian Gaming Casino will impact the "culture" in the Napa Valley.

    Maybe you could start with how the River Rock Casino impacts the culture in the Sonoma Valley. Or the Red Hawk Casino in Eldorado County. Just curious.
  5. Old Time Napkin
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    Old Time Napkin - October 09, 2012 8:31 am
    . Actually the casino may help the wine industry by purchasing products that can be served in the casino. Casinos don't make wine , they buy it. Let's face it the wineries just don't want a casino for whatever reason. The only impact that a casino may have is on the hotel industry, The rooms will actually be affordable for the average tourist. It may bring the rates down on the local hotels who charge huge rates for run of the mill rooms just because they are in the wine country. I don't gamble, but it sure would be nice when people come to visit that they can get a room at an affordable rate in this valley.
  6. Domus Vitae
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    Domus Vitae - October 09, 2012 8:42 am
    I would refer to the impact the Chumash casino has had on the local residents and economy in Santa Ynez Valley [Santa Barbara wine country] and how local residents are desperately fighting to prevent further land to be annexed into the reservation.
  7. BacchusGirl
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    BacchusGirl - October 09, 2012 9:31 am
    I live not far from the Chumash Casino and am a winemaker. I don't think it adversely impacts my business in the least. Nor the business of surrounding wineries. In point of fact, the Chumash have given ample funds to local non-profits.
    Fundamentally, I believe this is a race issue. It makes high-income, upscale white neighborhoods uncomfortable when non-white businesses move in and flourish. Say all you want about me over-simplifying this issue, but I believe that at essence, this is the issue. The Chumash and Wappo deserve every opportunity to flourish, just as the rest of us have done. Wineries and casinos can co-exist and will continue to co-exist and all of the belly-aching cannot stop what fundamentally is the very fabric that holds the country together; the right of every citizen to flourish, not just a select few.
  8. brownsvalleygirl
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    brownsvalleygirl - October 09, 2012 11:41 am
    The reason the local wine industry, including the Napa Valley Vintners, the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, the Napa County Farm Bureau, Visit Napa Valley, practically every chamber of commerce in the county and even the Sierra Club and Friends of the Napa River are opposed to a casino in the Napa Valley is that it is extremely unlikely to be compatible with the Napa Valley Agricultural Preserve, which has been in place since 1968 and, at its foundation, is what nurtures and sustains the Napa Valley wine industry, an industry that employes 46,000 people in Napa County alone and is worth around $13 billion per year in Napa County alone. It is all interconnected but all quite simple. A sovereign nation within our county is unlikely to be a good thing. Thanks to Brandon for having the guts to stick his neck out, and to his family for all the good work they have done to help those in need.
  9. brownsvalleygirl
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    brownsvalleygirl - October 09, 2012 11:56 am
    Vocal-de-local: More or less, communities have little say in what happens. Voiceless as it were. The "process" is flawed, as our congressman, Mike Thompson, is very aware and pointed out at a congressional hearing in June. It's a sham. Senator Feinstein is also an opponent of "casino shopping" which is what is going on here. You could write to the new Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn at the Dept. of Interior and let him know that you object to the Dept. of Interior circumventing Congress by inviting the Wappo to sue DOI and then immediately going to settlement rather than defending themselves in the suit. The strategy employed by the Wappo is unquestionably a good one and leaves communities, like ours, voiceless.
  10. vocal-de-local
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    vocal-de-local - October 09, 2012 12:07 pm
    This is a slippery slope, Old Time Napkin.

    Napa Valley, so far, is different than most other places. We have managed to maintain a certain image which is costly btw. If we travel down that path of cheapening that image, we will be no different than, say, San Jose or Livermore.

    This is the reason we must challenge these corporations (gaming is a corporation with interests that have nothing to do with Wappo Indians, in spite of what they tell you).

    Costco will also damage the wine industry with their high volume purchasing power. This will impact smaller wineries Let's not go to the place of cheapening Napa County.
  11. vocal-de-local
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    vocal-de-local - October 09, 2012 12:12 pm
    It's absurd for you to categorize this as a race issue. My sister in law was hired at an Indian Casino and she doesn't have an ounce of Indian blood in her. Casinoes do not preferentially hire Native Americans.

    The Wappo will not flourish. Gaming interests from Las Vegas will flourish along with less than a handful of people who call themselves Wappo. Evidentally you do not even have to prove yourself to be Wappo to get on this bandwagon.

  12. rocketman
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    rocketman - October 09, 2012 2:11 pm
    I still don't get it, sorry......there are several Casino's in Ag areas, Sonoma, Lake and Yolo Counties and I just don't see the impact you are all suggesting. River Rock is in the heart of the Sonoma Wine region...........where is the impact and what is it??? How will a Casino, impact the Wine industry?? Are they going to put one in the middled of the Mondavi Winery??

    There are dozens of these Casinos all over Northern California. What is the impact besides an emotional, I don't like them? The new Red Hawk Casino in Eldorado is completely out of site. What impact does it have in the Eldorado Hills Cameron Park, Placerville area?? Sorry, I just don't see it.

    There is substanstial gaming on both ends of the most beaucaulic Lake in Northern California (tahoe), how do all these non-Indian Casinos effect the beautiful untouched environment of Lake Tahoe??
  13. Report Abuse
    - October 09, 2012 3:58 pm
    @Brownsvalleygirl: Is Napa County standing in line for BLM lands? My perspective on what you are saying is that the Wappo can break the legal positions and holdings of the Ag Preserve by being granted land that is in the holdings of the BLM. It is apples vs.'s oranges, no comparison. The real deal is: Napa County does not want to have to do political work with another independant soveriegn government with in it's county borders. The rest of their compliants were cheese & jello. It appears to me that everyone is claiming all the bad that will be-fall the county when the county officers already allowed the bad to fall when they pulled monentray support out of the Berryessa district giving it over to Solano which has done the same until the Federal Goverment has taken over. You need to get your facts straight. Someone, some how is going to report Napa County to Amnesty International as a community that continues suppress the culture of a Native Peoples by the use of political assimilation
  14. alucawanza
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    alucawanza - October 09, 2012 7:10 pm
    Everyone in Napa shots at the Vallejo or Rohnert Park Costco. No damage yet. If Costco has done any damage, it has already happened. No one is going to bypass the wineries to taste wine at Costco. Costco may even buy the wines from the smaller wineries thus enhancing their business.
  15. alucawanza
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    alucawanza - October 09, 2012 7:12 pm
    I agree. And this is certainly not an over-simplification. It's a deep issue that people don't want to face and will deny its existence.
  16. vocal-de-local
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    vocal-de-local - October 09, 2012 9:18 pm
    We're not talking about local residents, alucawanza. Tourists can taste wine at local Napa Valley wineries but if a Costco is nearby, they might just purchase their bottles there. Wineries cannot compete against the purchasing power of a large corporate chain. It could affect their local profit margins. Some competition is healthy but unfair competition is not.

  17. NapaCitizen
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    NapaCitizen - October 10, 2012 8:55 am
    When you look at black people, you see ghosts of all the slavery and the rapes and the hangings and the chains. When you look at Jews, you see ghosts of all those bodies piled up in the death camps. And those ghosts keep you trying to do the right thing. But when you look at us, you don't see the ghosts of the little babies with their heads smashed in by rifle butts at the Big Hole, or the old folks dying by the side of the trail on the way to Oklahoma while their families cried and tried to make them comfortable, or the dead mothers at Wounded Knee or the little kids at Sand Creek who were shot for target practice. You don't see any ghosts at all. Instead, you see casinos and drunks and junk cars and shacks. Well, we see those ghosts. And they make our hearts sad and they hurt our little children. And when we try to say something, you tell us, "Get over it. This is America. Look at the American dream" We're still living the American Nightmare. Genocide.
  18. 123little
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    123little - October 10, 2012 11:32 am
    NIMBYism at its finest, and under the guise of philanthropy...Really?
    " The opening of a casino here would irreparably harm the integrity of our valley’s winemaking culture and economy. This culture and economy are integral to the livelihoods of local residents, and also to a range of incredibly good philanthropic works"
    Does this really have to do with potential damage to the fundraising capabilities of the high end wineries of the Napa Valley? That's a pretty thin leg to be standing on here. "...Oh wait, please don't let them build a casino Mr. Secretary of the Interior...then we won't be able to raise so much money for the betterment of the common good"
    Or does it have more to do with the image of the Napa Valley, and the sanctity of the Chateau like edifices that have been built over the years, as monuments to the egos of their owners (good for them by the way, I don't begrudge anyone just because they have money and want to build a chateau)?
    Look, the winery owners have their piece...all protected by the ag preserve, which certainly has its strong points, but the gentrification of the Napa Valley has clearly been one of the results of the preserve over the years, intentional or not. Now it will be brought front and center to help preserve the agricultural heritage of the Napa Valley. But the closing of the door to the valley seems to have a little crack in it, and a small group of descendants of the people who originally settled this area, and then were unceremoniously wiped off the map by the spread of western culture seem to have managed to get their foot into that crack. Good for them. Yes, they will have the backing of some larger casino developer types, but still, good for them. Kind of ugh...the American Way isn't it?
    "Our valley". Let us not forget that it was indeed, not so very long ago "their" valley.
    Will a Casino (undoubtedly what is at stake here) harm the charitable efforts of our great benefactors, the high end Napa Valley Cabernet producers? I think not. Will it threaten their image, and maybe even their land values if they are close enough to said casino? Yep.
  19. Wineandfood
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    Wineandfood - October 10, 2012 4:43 pm
    actually, when I look at all those people I just see people.
  20. Raven
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    Raven - October 11, 2012 1:19 pm
    still waiting for the facts to be presented showing how casinos in other wine regions have adversely impacted them...
  21. boomtho707
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    boomtho707 - October 13, 2012 4:50 pm
    I am a Native American and I can't believe my people who used to love this land like a fat kid loves cake can stand on the shoulders of our mothers and fathers and grandmothers and grandfathers, who struggled for so long in this country, can look white people in the eyes and tell them we won't necessarily build a casino. Of course we are going to build a casino, so that the white man can suffer as our people did and that fire water and other vices that destroyed our community will tear down the fabric of the white community as well.
  22. naparealestate
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    naparealestate - October 13, 2012 8:58 pm
    What really scares me is that San Francisco has no "mega-casino" like New York City does (Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun in neighboring Connecticut). Put all your rationale "for" and "against" aside for a moment. Just think about a casino that's a million (1,000,000) square feet in size taking up two square miles of space. A casino the size of Yountville more or less. That's what a casino an hour outside of San Francisco in the wine country will look like. The crime and poverty that will follow is beyond imagination.

    And the worst part is, the native Americans will suffer alongside everyone else. Right now, the casino backers are trying to assemble as many people as possible into their tribe. But once recognition is granted and the casino is built, most will be cast aside as "not Wappo enough" so the profits can be shared with a smaller group of people.
  23. Brandon Staglin
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    Brandon Staglin - October 16, 2012 9:09 am
    A casino would encourage urban-style development, as has occurred for example with the Thunder Valley Casino. Placed anywhere along Highway 29, it would increase traffic (of which there is already too much). Not only would this erode Napa Valley's rural character but it would make it more difficult for tourists and customers to reach wineries and resorts; probably many would enjoy the drive less, and some might not come as often. Today, Napa Valley has a hospitality culture; people know it as a place to come to relax, and enjoy the sunshine and the wine. This is also why its economy thrives.
    Yes, I would like to see native peoples do well, but, for the reasons I have given, I do not want a casino in the Napa Valley.
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