NIGA Honors 2018 John Kieffer Sovereignty Award Recipient at NIGA Mid-Year Conference

National Indian Gaming Association presents the John Kieffer Sovereignty Award to Pechanga Chairman Mark Macarro at the 2018 NIGA Mid-year honoring luncheon. In the photo L-R Front Danny Kieffer, son of the late John Kieffer, Chairman Mark Macarro, Greg Abrahamson, Spokane Tribal Councilman. L-R Back NBA Basketball legend AC Green and NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr.

Temecula, CA – September 26, 2018 – The National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) honored Mark Macarro, Chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians with the prestigious John Kieffer Sovereignty Award at the 2018 NIGA Mid-Year Conference and Expo.

Hosted at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, the John Kieffer Sovereignty Award was presented to Macarro during the Sovereignty Luncheon that is held each year during the NIGA Mid-Year Conference.

Named in honor of the late John Kieffer of the Spokane Tribe, recipients of this prestigious award are chosen based on their embodiment of NIGA's mission and purpose. Kieffer was a dedicated member of the NIGA Executive Committee and advocate for Indian self-determination and tribal sovereignty.

Chairman Stevens reflected on the late John Kieffer, “So many great things have happened in Indian country, but we still have a lot of work to do. There are so many tribes that need us. That’s why we need more people like the late John Kieffer. He was a worker, who worked hard morning, noon and night. He worked hard for his people, his family and he worked hard for Indian country. We memorialize him and celebrate the memory of his life.”

Spokane Tribal Council Members Greg Abrahamson and Danny Kieffer, the son of John Kieffer spoke about Kieffer’s life, his determination and his service to Indian country. “It is always hard to fill in where my dad left off. I continue to say that it is a dream for me to be able to follow in his passion for leadership. I have big shoes to fill, and I am grateful to NIGA for keeping his memory alive through this honoring”

Danny Kieffer, who is serving in his second term on the tribal council at the Spokane Tribe thanked NIGA for honoring his father’s memory with the award. “It is a great honor for the Spokane tribe and my family. My dad loved being on the tribal council, and he fought hard for Indian gaming. He was a great man who continued to fight hard for Indian country.”

Macarro was nominated for his selfless dedication to NIGA’s mission and goals, his commitment to the demonstrated advancement of NIGA’s objectives, his advocacy on behalf of Indian sovereignty and his commitment to Indian economic development.

Chairman Stevens presented the Kieffer award to Chairman Mark Macarro. Stevens cited the Pechanga council’s nomination, “During his tenure as tribal chairman, the Pechanga Band has seen a resurgence of growth and opportunity for its people including economic diversification, tuition assistance and higher education scholarships, advanced healthcare, environmental protection, culture rejuvenation, sacred sites protection, and language revitalization. The Pechanga Band saw its small gaming operation that opened in 1995 in modular trailers with only 135 employees grow into one of the largest resort and casinos in the western United States.”

Stevens added, “With the recent opening of the second hotel tower at the Pechanga Resort and Casino, the Tribe is now responsible for the employment of nearly 6,000 Southern Californians offering unparalleled service and amenities to guests. Chairman Macarro works tirelessly for his people, his family and Indian Country.”

Upon accepting the award, Macarro talked about the Pechanga leadership team, acknowledging each of the members. He shared with the attendees that it has been such an honor to serve as the Pechanga Tribal Chairman. He said, “This is an exciting time for all of us. We get to see the opportunities to make things better for our people, for our families, and to help correct some injustices. I’m grateful for the honor. I accept the award on behalf of the Pechanga people, past, present and future.”

He recognized his wife Holly and his children for their continued support of him in his service as tribal chairman.

Mark Macarro, is the duly elected Tribal Chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians in southern California.

Macarro's vision for the Pechanga people is to see the Band strengthen its political self-determination and economic self-sufficiency by developing a diversified economy for the Pechanga Band while maintaining its distinct and unique cultural identity.

Chairman Macarro was first elected to the Pechanga Tribal Council in 1992. Mark has served as the Tribal Chairman since 1995; 2018 marks his 23rd consecutive year as Tribal Chairman.

Chairman Macarro believes it is critical to maintain and cultivate the Pechanga tribal culture, language, and traditional lifeways so that the Pechanga people can preserve their unique tribal identity.

Macarro has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

This year, Macarro joined the ranks of past recipients of this honor including John Warren, Chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, David Bean, Vice Chairman of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, Kevin Brown, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribe of New York, and Melanie Benjamin, Chief Executive of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe; Kurt Blue Dog of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community; Tracy Burris of the Chickasaw Nation; Chairman Mark Brown of the Mohegan Tribe; Chairwoman Lynn Valbuena of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians; and Anthony R. Pico, former chairman of the Viejas Band of Mission Indians, just to name a few.