Gholson responds to accusations

Gholson responds to accusationsPictured: Timbisha Shoshone Tribal Chair George Gholson speaking at a prior meeting at City Hall. — Photo by Laura Austin

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By BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

At the well-attended meeting of the Ridgecrest City Council on Wednesday night, many in the audience were surprised when the first order of business was to pull the casino item from the agenda. However that didn’t stop it from being a topic of discussion.

Timbisha Shoshone Tribal Chair George Gholson took the opportunity during public comment to speak out against several of the accusations that have been made against the tribe, principally the challenge against his legitimacy as chairman.

“I’ve been duly elected more than once,” said Gholson. “The Bureau of Indian Affairs recognizes me as the chair, and I have the final documentation to prove it.”

He carried a copy of the lawsuit filed against him by his “nemesis,” presumably former Timbisha Shoshone Tribal Chairman Joe Kennedy.

In the lawsuit, Kennedy alleges that Gholson doesn’t qualify for tribal membership and that he was “unjustifiably deposed” by Gholson and the new council.

Gholson has been recognized by the BIA as tribal chair since 2011.

“The other issue that I hear about is cannabis,” said Gholson. “So I want to be perfectly clear – the tribe will never sell, carry, condone or have any type of cannabis activity in the city of Ridgecrest ever. We never came here to have any type of endeavor such as that.”

He added that if the land sale goes through and the tribal-state compact is approved, the agreement between the tribe and the city waives the tribe’s immunity from arbitration.

If the tribe decides to undertake endeavors outside of the planned casino, Gholson said, the city has legal power to take action.

“The fact is, there’s one entity in this state that can sue the tribe for doing things they shouldn’t be doing. The city of Ridgecrest is the only entity that has our waiver of sovereign immunity,” said Gholson.

“I want to make it clear to the public that this is not a free-for-all,” he continued.

“If I want to cut wood on tribal land, I have to go to the BIA for permission.

“I appreciate all of the councilmembers – not just some of you, but all of you – for standing up for your city and standing up for what you believe in. Because that’s what I do.”

Story First Published: 2018-02-09