Graton Rancheria wields growing influence as opening of Rohnert Park casino nears

  • The Graton Resort & Casino raised their signature flower logo on the exterior of the building on Wednesday, August 21, 2013. (photo by John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, a landless tribe eight years ago, now stands on the verge of great wealth as it readies to open the Bay Area's largest casino on the outskirts of Rohnert Park.

Through revenue-sharing deals with Rohnert Park and Sonoma County that could steer half a billion dollars to those jurisdictions over 20 years, the tribe already is a major actor in the North Bay.

And its leaders are clear about the tribe's desire to be an increasingly influential force in the region once its $800 million casino opens later this year.

"This opportunity will empower us to be important and engaged in this community on all sorts of issues and questions, particularly on questions of the land," Tribal Chairman Greg Sarris said, referring to casino income and to the tribe's oft-stated goals of preserving and restoring natural habitats.

"We'll have the financial resources to own the natural resources," he said.

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