Updated: Apr 26
Big Sandy Rancheria has big plans to revitalize Auberry!
On September 19th, Liz Kipp, Chairperson of Big Sandy Rancheria was on her way to Prather for the Munahoo Market and Creek Fire Benefit event when she received the call that the tribe was cleared from evacuation orders. Instead of enjoying the event and reconnecting with her community, she rushed to deliver cases of water and food to each tribal member’s home so everyone had supplies when they returned.
The same day she received a call that the tribe had closed escrow on Dan Crockett’s old property just behind Auberry Elementary School. The purchase had been in the works for the past year.
“That week in September was obviously a crazy time for everyone and a lot was up in the air. I was in a dead sprint to make sure the tribe had everything they needed when they arrived home, I’d almost forgotten about the purchase of the land,” Kipp laughs. “It was such tremendous news to receive after all this community had endured.”
Kipp says the 380 acre parcel, one that used to house a landing strip for aircraft, will be used to build a ‘new town.’ As we’ve all seen in the past 20-years, commercial property owners in Auberry have had a tough time leasing their buildings to new businesses due to either crumbling infrastructure or lack of interest.
“We want to build a town that the entire community will love. Flowers, greenery, sidewalks and businesses that make sense to this community,” envisions Kipp. “I don’t know if it’s a bowling alley or an arcade, but the kids need something to do to keep them off of the streets and away from drugs. We’ve all seen this town deteriorate over the years and it was time that someone stepped in.”
There are four parcels to explore for possible tribal housing, a heliport to assist emergency crews, amenities for the entire community including recreation, education and transportation opportunities, and a town that everyone can be proud of. A casino is not part of the projected plans and the focus is on creating an environment that welcomes everyone.
The property will be placed in a trust to benefit the tribe and community within two to three years. As a sovereign state, the Band of Western Mono Indians is neither dependent on nor subjected to any other state. This is important because it bypasses some of the permitting and designation laws held by the State of California. It also ensures reasonable prices for goods and services and lessens our tax burden to the State, while putting money right back into our community.
“I’m so grateful for our Big Sandy team. We’ve worked really hard to be a benefit to our communities and we’re excited to see where this goes. It feels great to be the first tribe to build a town, rather than another casino, for the benefit of all,” Kipp finished.