The Rincon Community
The Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians occupies a 5,000-acre reservation in Valley Center, CA. Established in 1875, the Rincon Band is a sovereign government recognized by the United States of America.
The Rincon Tribal Government
Democratically elected by a majority vote of tribal members, the Rincon council has the executive, legislative, and legal authority and responsibility to protect and promote the welfare of the tribal members and jurisdiction over the reservation land. The tribe is not a subdivision of the county or state, but is a federally recognized sovereign government. Rincon has powers equal to a city, county, or state. The tribe has a “Trust Relationship” with the federal government, and, like state governments, is responsible for enforcing all applicable federal laws from environmental to taxation on the reservation.
The Rincon Band owns Harrah’s Resort Southern California (formerly known as Harrah’s Rincon Resort and Casino) and uses profits from this and other commercial enterprises to provide government services such as police and environmental enforcement, health, youth, seniors, recreation and culture programs, economic development, and a tribal court. The government also funds a highly respected and well-equipped tribal fire department, ambulance and paramedic unit, and contracts with the San Diego Sheriff, delivering increased patrols on the Rincon Reservation, and in the Valley Center community. At no cost to taxpayers, Rincon’s public safety operations respond to emergencies in the neighboring communities, with a majority of calls generated outside the reservation.
Rincon’s Economic Contributions
Rincon’s tribal enterprises are significant contributors to the San Diego County economy through job creation, the purchase of local products and services, and tax generation.
The Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians award hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to regional non-profits and public agencies that support quality of life programs in the region.
Tribal Government Gaming Fuels Economic Development
However, in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s things began to look up for tribal governments. Tribes began experimenting with various forms of gaming, and an era of prosperity for many was born. With the changes and possibilities arising from gaming as a means of economic development, a vision of independence was born. A hunger for self-sufficiency, freedom from poverty, and the vision of independency from unreliable and humiliating federal taxpayer-supported programs motivated many tribes to enter into the risky new business of gaming. For the Rincon people, gaming would mean the realization and return of self-government. It was not until 2000 that the Rincon Band, like many other tribes in California, won the right to engage in gaming as the result of a voter-approved change to the State Constitution. With that change, the tribe, after hundreds of years of failed experiments in economic development, began the process of becoming self-sufficient and investing in a functioning, modern government.