Buena Vista Rancheria Timeline
1900-1927 Buena Vista property owned in fee by Fitzsimmons then Alpers.
1927 Buena Vista property purchased by the Federal government from Alpers in fee for the use of homeless Indians and was not held in trust for any band or Tribe. These lands were referred to as Rancheria’s, this one the Buena Vista Rancheria.
1934 Louie Oliver and Annie Oliver (wife) and John Oliver (brother) and Josie Rey (sister) moved on the property.
1935 Indian Reorganization Act approved by the Oliver’s, Louie, Annie, John, and Josie.
1959 The Federal Government deeded the land to Louie and Annie Oliver in fee simple absolute at their request pursuant to the Rancheria Termination Act. The Oliver’s were aware that they could no longer receive benefits from the government but the land was theirs to do with what they wished, i.e. lease, mortgage, sell.
1972-1973 Louie and Annie Oliver die intestate (without will). Amador County probate court resulted in Enos Oliver & Lucille Lucero (children of Louie and Annie Oliver) receiving undivided ½ interests each in the Buena Vista property. Jesse Pope (Eleanor Oliver Pope’s son) refused any interest in the property.
1979 California Indian Legal Services filed a lawsuit. (Tillie- Hardwick v the United States). The suit challenged the terminations of 17 Rancheria’s in California including Buena Vista. The judgment ruled that any individual owner or Tribe had a period of two years in which to apply to have their land taken into Trust. The one Buena Vista plaintiff, Lucille Lucero, chose to own her land in fee simple.
1986 Donna Marie Potts, (a Maidu Indian) was deeded ½ interest in the Buena Vista property from Lucille Lucero.
1994 Donna Marie Potts, purporting to speak for what she described as “The Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians” applied for Federal recognition with the Bureau of Indian Affairs claiming she was a lineal descendent of Louie and Annie Oliver (she is not and never was). She proposed a base roll for the new Tribe that included Lucille Lucero, herself and a few family members of HERS. The Bureau of Indian Affairs agreed with the evidence and in 1994 recognized the Tribe.
1995 Lucille Lucero’s death. Donna Marie Potts is willed another ¼ interest in the Buena Vista property. This is about the time Indian gaming in California was clearly becoming a possibility.
1996 Donna Marie Potts buys the remaining ¼ interst in the Buena Vista property from John Fielder (Enos Oliver’s step son). Potts now owns the entire Buena Vista property in fee simple. After gaining full ownership she deeds the property from herself to the newly formed Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians. She immediately, acting as chairperson of the newly formed Tribe, attempts to deed the property to the federal Government in Trust. The Federal Government rejected her application.
1999 Donna Marie Potts (backed by Cascade Entertainment) goes to governor Davis along with 16 other Tribes, without any investigation of the Tribal or land status, was able to get Davis to sign a Tribal – State compact to allow class III gaming on the Buena Vista property.
2003 Friends of Amador County were promised a meeting with the Governor’s legal council before the compact would be signed to present evidence that the land was not eligible for any gaming. The meeting was rescheduled twice and finally was held shortly after the Governor had singed the compact, unknown by The Friends of Amador County.
2003 Rhonda Pope, only one of numerous descendents of the Oliver’s, challenges Potts’s authority to act as Tribal Chairperson in Federal Court. Pope claims Tribal gravesites and sacred grounds would be desecrated by a casino. Evidence exposes Potts is not a lineal descendent of the Oliver’s. Potts agrees, for several millions of dollars, to relinquish her interest in the property to Pope (now backed by New York mall developer Wilmot). Now in control of the Tribe, Pope unveils plans to build a casino of her own. At the same site Pope claimed in court would desecrate her family’s gravesite and sacred ground. Pope is now the only voting member of the Tribe.
2003-2010 In an effort to stop the Buena Vista casino project with out legal action The Friends of Amador County have held meetings with Chairman Phil Hogan the National Indian Gaming Commission; George Skibine chairman The Department of the Interior; Senator Diane Feinstein; Senator Barbara Boxer’s Chief of Staff; Senator John McCain’s Chief of Staff; U.S. Congressmen Dan Lundgren; California State Representative John Doolittle; California Governor’s Chief legal Council Andrea Hoch; California governor’s Chief Legal Council Peter Siggins; California State Attorney General; California State Senator Dave Cox; California State Assemblyman Alan Nakanishi; Amador County Board of Supervisors.
The entire system is so corrupted by huge amounts of money that all attempts to get our Governor, Federally elected officials, and Federal agencies to enforce regulations and/or the laws has failed. Thus we had no other recourse than to file this lawsuit.