National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Visits Tribal Communities Promoting the Importance of the Native Vote

The National Indian Gaming Association's "My Vote will Count Res to Res" tour included visits in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin to deliver native vote t-shirts and visit their local Boys & Girls Clubs. In the photo Gary Morseau, Pokagon Tribal Councilmember, tribal member Scott Brewer, and Chairman Stevens.

Chairman Stevens meets with the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa tribal Council.

Washington, D.C. – October 28, 2020 – Ernie Stevens, Jr., Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association, concluded his “My Vote WILL Count, Res to Res” visits with tribal communities throughout Midwest last week because of the concerns over the increased spread over the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Wisconsin, Governor Tony Evers issued an emergency order limiting public gatherings in light of the state’s designation as a Nation’s COVID-19 hot spot, which brought the visits and campaign to a halt.

The National Indian Gaming Association launched the “My Vote WILL Count” campaign in October of 2019, and since then has worked in partnership with our Member Tribes, sister tribal organizations to educate, empower, and encourage all Native Americans to register to vote and commit to making a plan to vote in 2020, whether it’s voting early in person, voting by mail or absentee, or showing up at the polls on November 3rd.

The grassroots campaign was forced to take a different path because of the ongoing impacts and health threats of COVID-19. It included a limited extension of campaign stops throughout Indian country in the Mid-west, prioritizing all social distancing and safety precautions with visiting to promote the importance of the Native Vote.

Chairman Stevens said, “In Indian Country, exercising our voting rights not only serves to empower our people and advance our future policy goals, but it also serves as an act of honoring those who came before us—those who sacrificed to protect tribal sovereignty and made it possible for us to protect our way of life for future generations.”

Stevens added, “We have power. Each of us has a voice. It is up to us as voters to elect a candidate who and defends tribal sovereignty or at least understands and is willing to work with tribes. Our Vote is our voice and our power.

He delivered sanitized boxes of the National Indian Gaming Association United Vote 2020 t-shirts and shared discussions regarding the upcoming National elections.

The "My Vote will Count Res to Res" included visits in Michigan, delivering t-shirts to tribes in Michigan. Some of the tribes Stevens visited included the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians, the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, and the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians.

Chairman Stevens made his next stop in Minnesota at the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe tribal government center to deliver t-shirts and present a donation to their Boys & Girls Club. Stevens also honored Melanie Benjamin, Chief Executive of the Mille Lacs Band, and Bill Schaff, a respected elder in the community for their roles in supporting native youth and tribal culture and traditions.

At the invitation of Dan and Susan Ninham, Stevens made a visit to the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Boys & Girls Club, where he presented a contribution to Thomas Barrett, CEO of the club.

He also presented a donation to Dan and Susan Nimham for the Empowered Youth and Development organization on behalf of the National Indian Gaming Association. Stevens also provided the native vote t-shirts for the community.

A brief conversation with the club CEO provided Stevens with a great and renewed inspiration to his longtime commitment to the Red Lake Boys & Girls Club.

From the Red Lake community, Stevens traveled to the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. He met with the tribal council and provided a Boys & Girls club donation, vote t-shirts. Stevens also gave a legislative update, including the gaming association's work to help secure COVID - relief money for Tribal Governments and Tribal Enterprises through the CAREs act and the ongoing work to advocate for even more coronavirus relief money, among other updates from Washington, D.C.

His Wisconsin visits were brief to hand off sealed and sanitized boxes of native vote t-shirts to the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, and the Menominee Indian tribe.

Stevens said in keeping with Wisconsin Governor Evers emergency order, his office has continued to reach out to tribal communities, sending the vote t-shirts, even today.

The National Indian Gaming Association will continue its focus on the voter campaign initiative to focus on all aspects of social media and virtual spaces to get the message out, which will be in full force until voting day on November 3rd.

For more about voter information go to www.iwillvote.com.

Chairman Stevens joins tribal leadership throughout his brief visits to deliver boys & girls club donations and deliver native vote t-shirts. In the photos (L-R) - Stevens with Jason Schlender, Tribal Member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Boys & Girls Club, Stevens at Lac de Flambeau and Chairman Stevens with Ron Corn, CEO of the Woodland Boys & Girls Club at Menominee Indian Tribe.