On October 9, 2014, hundreds of people were enjoying an evening out at a California resort and casino. Nothing was out of the ordinary. Guests checked in and out, dined, and played games on the casino floor. However, what happened next was anything but ordinary. Chaos Accounts of that night’s events vary depending on what areas of the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino patrons were in. In fact, the full scope and details are still largely unknown. People in the restaurant say staff quietly and calmly went table to table and told diners they needed to leave. Though they were not informed why, they noticed a heavy police presence in the hotel’s lobby as they departed. Those on the casino floor, however, had a different experience. They describe a scene of chaos, as armed police hurriedly went through the room, shouting at patrons to leave immediately. Mid-game, players abandoned their chips on the table and flooded the exits. Invasion What none of the patrons knew, though, was that as they gamed and dined, a convoy of vehicles arrived at the casino’s doors. A group of armed men, some dressed as police officers, others in SWAT or military attire, entered the lobby and overtook the staff. The assailants claim no harm was done, and that they intended for the event to be peaceful. However, reports have emerged, which indicate they used excessive force, including stun guns, to subdue security and staff and hold numerous people hostage. Oddly enough, the aggressors weren’t after money or anything of monetary value- they wanted documents. The Feud The events which led up to the invasion stretch back to a decades-old feud. The Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino sits upon the Picayune Rancheria, which is tribal land held by the Chukchansi Indians of California. The tribe has been divided over leadership and council management. Three individual factions emerged, two of which, are seemingly at war with one another. As recently as 2003, the tribe held as many as 1800 members. However, officials have been routinely disenrolling them at a high rate. Historically, tribes have reserved stripping members of their affiliation only under extreme circumstances. For instance, if a member was performing illegal acts or was harming the community in some way. In the case of the Chukchansi tribe, officials have been tracking lineage and ousting those they have deemed to be outsiders or of impure blood. In some cases, they use a single document to prove someone isn’t a true tribal descendant, despite numerous other contradicting sources. It’s rumored that the motivation for these disenrollments is financial. In some tribes, members receive monthly stipends as high as 15,000 dollars from casino revenue. Chukchansi actually receive around 450 dollars each month, but they also collect payments for food, utilities, tuition, and more. Due to the cuts, the tribe now has under 900 members, which means that there’s more money for the lucky few who have maintained their status. Those who are ousted are left without a tribal affiliation and lose the only heritage they may have ever known, on top of the absent benefits. Moreover, the tribe has been fighting over who the rightful leaders are. Elections have been held, and prior council has refused to step down. There has been a host of events between the families of takeovers, break-ins and other skirmishes. Most recently, the issues surrounded the casino, as well as missing funds. Audits The casino was being run by two of the three feuding groups within the tribe. In early October, 2014, the National Indian Gaming Commission warned tribal leaders that the casino would be forced to close if specific paperwork was not turned in. Some of these audits were 18 months overdue, and penalty fines were building. The third group, which was not overseeing the casino’s activities, had concerns over the impact the closure of the casino would have and took it upon themselves to secure the documentation needed to complete the paperwork. Aftermath Rather than saving the day, as the third faction claims it intended to do, they cut off the tribe’s main source of income. Although the casino sits on Native American land and is therefore, responsible for managing its own affairs, the US government has some jurisdiction under certain circumstances. A federal judge ordered the casino to stay closed, as a matter of safety, until the tribe can agree on leadership. Local law enforcement has remained on-site ever since, ensuring the property stays vacant. Several of the people who stormed the casino that fateful night are behind bars. The tribe’s police chief, who was also arrested, has posted bail. Meanwhile, the groups which are responsible for the Chukchansi Gold’s daily activities have filed the overdue audits. The community may never recover from this incident. As many as 1,500 employees are presently out of work. There’s obviously no revenue being generated, which many of the tribal members depend on for living expenses. The venue shares a water table with neighboring homes. During construction, they vowed to residents that they would ensure the availability of water, if the wells ran dry. They did, and the casino was making good on their promise by having water delivered, up until the closure. Now, residents are without this basic need. Moreover, patrons are stunned by the incident and even those who weren’t there that night have sworn off the casino for good. Those who fled with money on the table haven’t received it back yet, though operators assure them that once they are permitted back inside, security footage will be reviewed, and repayments will be made. Should the tribe manage to work out their differences, and the Chukchansi Gold open again, it’s not likely they’ll return to business as usual anytime soon.