Sonoma County can't appeal a federal court ruling that lets Alexander Valley's Wappo Indians move ahead with their bid to regain tribal status, a judge ruled this week.
Sonoma County is worried the tribe wants to build a casino. The tribe's leader said they won't make a decision until they win federal recognition.
Napa County joined Sonoma in a legal effort to block the Wappos' claim.
In October, U.S. District Court Judge Edward J. Davila denied the counties' motion to dismiss the Wappos' case. On Wednesday, he said the counties can't appeal his earlier decision.
Sonoma County could still appeal a final judgment in the case, said Jeffrey Brax, an attorney for the county.
The Wappos sued U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in 2009, charging the federal government acted unlawfully when it disbanded the tribe in 1959. The Wappos are asking the government to restore their tribal status, benefits and historic land rights.
The tribe is in settlement talks with the Interior Department, according to court documents.