The Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians is a federally recognized tribe located in Placerville, California. The Tribe owns and operates the Red Hawk Casino and is one of the largest employers in El Dorado County. Beyond the casino, the Tribe has also created a very strong community infrastructure, operating its own fire and police departments, Elders Center, Tribal Court, and more. In 1995, the Tribe opened a health center in nearby Shingle Springs. In 2011, that small center was transformed when the Tribe built the Shingle Springs Health & Wellness Center on the Rancheria. It provides the local community with the best possible care in all aspects, including family practice, pediatrics, specialty care such as physical therapy, dentistry and orthodontics, pharmacy and mental health.
We had the honor of speaking with Chairwoman Regina Cuellar to talk more about how the Tribe continues to grow while preserving its culture and traditions.
Please give us a little history of the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians. The Shingle Springs Rancheria was purchased by the United States government in 1920 on behalf of the Sacramento Verona Band of Homeless Indians. Our Tribal Members are descendants of Miwok and Nisenan Indians, and our Tribe has had to overcome many obstacles to get where we are today.
Our reservation was originally 160 acres. As part of our commitment to the success of the Tribe, our reservation has grown over the years to more than 500 acres. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, enacted by the United States Congress in 1988, allows gaming as a means of generating revenue for tribes, encouraging economic development and self-sufficiency.
Due to the success of our businesses, we are able to provide many social, health, economic, enrichment, and educational resources to our Tribal Members.
How does the Tribe’s history impact it today? Our ties to the land and our ancestors are of paramount importance. The Tribe is dedicated to strengthening its culture by learning as much as we can and passing along our traditional way of life to future generations.
Tribal Members and each department are dedicated to cultural revitalization. The overarching goals of the community are to protect, preserve, and interpret the cultural heritage of the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians. This includes the protection of cultural and sacred landscapes, the return of ancestors from museums and institutions, the intergenerational transfer of cultural-ecological knowledge (i.e., songs, dance, and regalia) to the community, and the revitalization of the community’s language.
Recently, the Tribe reclaimed some of its homeland with the purchase of Verona Marina. This area, at the confluence of the Feather and Sacramento Rivers, is where our ancestors lived as early as the 1800s. Words cannot explain or describe our connection to this land. It is part of the fabric of the Tribe and its culture.
How has the pandemic affected the community? The health and safety of our Tribal Members, employees, patients, and guests are paramount. COVID protocol is strictly followed on the Rancheria and at the Tribe’s businesses.
We never imagined a time that we would close our casino, but as we all know, the pandemic has made us look at our lives and businesses differently. Red Hawk Casino is the Tribe’s revenue lifeblood.
Since we are a sovereign nation, we did not have to close the casino, but we voluntarily closed for the health and safety of our team, guests, and the surrounding community. The casino was closed for almost three months. We reopened on June 7 with all protocols in place. In addition, we’ve installed partitions between slot machines where possible, and the Waterfall Buffet was converted into a food court offering a variety of stations including American, Italian, Asian, Tex-Mex, and Hawks Coffee, featuring coffee and pastries.
At the Shingle Springs Health & Wellness Center, non-urgent care was temporarily suspended. Today, with modifications, our dental and pharmacy departments are fully open to in-person visits, medical offers both in-person and telehealth appointments, and behavioral health appointments are conducted via telehealth.
The Tribe has a robust infrastructure. Can you tell us more about that? Our Tribe and Rancheria have changed significantly from our humble beginnings, and our organization is complex. The Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians is an independent, sovereign tribal government led by our seven-member elected Tribal Council. As one of the area’s largest employers, the Tribe owns and operates a variety of businesses that are creating economic independence for today and future generations. Most importantly, we are a family that is working hard to honor and preserve our culture and traditions.
What are some of the Tribe’s businesses and community programs?
Red Hawk Casino – Red Hawk Casino is one of the premier entertainment destinations in Northern California. The stunning 278,000 sq. ft. facility features an 88,000 sq. ft. gaming floor with more than 2,000 slot machines and all the most popular table games. An experience unlike any other, Red Hawk Casino offers award-winning excitement, excellent dining options, and unparalleled gaming action.
Shingle Springs Health & Wellness Center – The Shingle Springs Health & Wellness Center provides medical, dental, behavioral health, specialty care, and pharmacy services to thousands in the area. Our state-of-the-art, high-quality care is available to Natives and non-Natives.
Express Fuel and Convenience Store – Our gas station and convenience store are owned and operated by the Shingle Springs Business Development Corporation.
Shingle Springs Tribal Temporary Assistance to Native Families (TANF) – Our Tribal TANF program serves eligible Native American families in Sacramento, El Dorado, Yolo, and Placer counties. Currently, we have more than 700 active TANF clients. We provide essential tools and teach skills to empower Native families to achieve self-sufficiency.
What other community programs does the Tribe support? As part of its core philosophy, the Tribe is honored to support a wide variety of cultural and charitable organizations and causes.
Boys & Girls Club of El Dorado County Western Slope, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Sierra, Marshall Foundation, Vista del Lago High School Fishing Club, and Hands4Hope are just a few examples of the many organizations we support. The Tribe has also established a partnership with the Food Bank of El Dorado County to provide food boxes to eligible seniors in five counties and TANF participants.
The Shingle Springs Health & Wellness Center is one of the area’s key resources for patients with Medicare and Medi-Cal. Because volunteerism is aligned with our core values, our team participates in many health fairs and volunteers for dental missions in Honduras.
Pre-pandemic, the Tribe donated the use of its gym and other facilities to organizations such as Special Olympics, Master Gardeners, 4-H, local high school cross country meets, and more.
As responsible corporate citizens, we are active members in all local chambers of commerce and other business-oriented organizations. We also participate in several golf tournaments, which is an effective way to build and strengthen relationships while contributing to meaningful causes.
To learn more about the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians, visit their website at www.shinglespringsrancheria.com.