February 28, 2018
Washington, D.C. – February 28, 2018 – The National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) concluded its annual Winter Legislative Summit today at the Stanley Crooks Tribal Leaders Conference Center in Washington, D.C.
Central topics on Day 2 of the legislative discussion focused on Congressional efforts to include Indian Country in the developing Farm Bill and Infrastructure legislation.
Several congressional members attended the Tribal Leaders meeting today with Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV) advocating for her and Sen. Heitkamp’s work on violence against Indian women on the reservation. These two Senators are working to keep the focus on remedying this injustice that continues to plague Native Americans at a much higher rate than the public at large.
Tribal Leaders in attendance also gave a hearty farewell to retiring Congressman Rick Nolan (DFL-MN). He has long represented his region and been a trusted ally of Indian Nations within in his state and nationally. Mr. Nolan urged Tribal Leaders to continue to speak out now more than ever as Congress remains in a stalemate over core issues involving our national debt and social programs.
During NIGA’s Winter Legislative Summit, the Supreme Court issued an unexpected ruling in the Gun Lake Tribe’s case. NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr., congratulated representatives of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Potawatomi Indians (Gun Lake Tribe) Tribal council who just happened to be in attendance. This was a multi-year struggle and cost the Gun Lake Tribe inordinate amount of resources defending their Sovereignty.
On Tuesday, Feb. 27th, in a 6-3 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the previous decision, ruling against David Patchak, a former nearby landowner, who challenged the tribes’ autonomy over 146 acres on which the Gun Lake Casino has been built. Patchak argued that a 2014 law that opened the door for the casino violated the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers.
The high court ruled that Congress was within its powers to legislatively adopt the Gun Lake Trust Land Reaffirmation Act. The act effectively short-circuited Patchak’s legal challenge and the Supreme Court affirmed the placement of land into trust for the Tribe.
Tribal Council members, Bob Peters, Treasurer, Jeff Martin, Secretary and John Shagonaby, Chief Executive Officer of the Gun Lake Tribal Gaming Authority were recognized by NIGA and the tribal leaders in attendance.
Chairman Stevens said, “This ruling ends a decade-long struggle for the Gun Lake Tribe, and we celebrate this victory with them. I commend the hard work and perseverance of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Potawatomi Indians tribal leadership, who continued to stand firm throughout. This ruling is truly a significant victory for all of Indian country.”