Washington, D.C.. – April 13, 2020 – The National Indian Gaming Association joins the rest of Indian Country in mourning the loss of former Ak-Chin Indian Community Chairman Louis Manuel, Jr.
Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. said, "We are saddened to hear about the sudden passing of Louis Manuel. His commitment and passion to the economic advancement of the Ak-Chin Community was exemplary and leaves an example to follow. He was a great Warrior for all of Indian country. He will be missed."
According to a press release, Manuel, 57 passing was described as "sudden and unexpected" and an official cause of death was not released on Sunday, April 5th.
Ak-Chin Chairman Robert Miguel said in a statement included in the press release, "The Ak-Chin Indian Community has lost a great leader in Chairman Louis Manuel, Jr. Words cannot express the pain and suffering the Community is enduring at this time," Manuel continued "He not only was a great leader but a great father, husband, and friend. He loved his Community and always put his people first.”
Adding, “Chairman Manuel's legacy lives on, and the positive imprint he left on this Community is visible all around us in the form of progress and economic opportunity for Ak-Chin members," he continued.”
His leadership extended beyond the Ak-Chin Indian Community, which included as the first vice president of the Inter-Tribal Association of Arizona and vice chairman of the Arizona Indian Gaming Association. He also previously served on the board of the National Indian Gaming Association.
The Ak-Chin Indian Community said it would lower its flags out of respect for Manuel.
Manuel was born on July 5, 1962, in Sacaton. Growing up in Ak-Chin, he had many friends and family. His work experience included jobs at Ak-Chin Farms, ASARCO mine, Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino and Quail Run Steel Co. He attended Central Arizona College as a pro baseball hopeful, scouted by the Milwaukee Brewers, but instead placed his love and duty to his family above his dream.
From 2007 to 2017, he served on the Ak-Chin Tribal Council in the capacities of council member and tribal chairman. He served as chairman of the Arizona Indian Gaming Association and Intertribal Council of Arizona as first vice president. He also served on many other commissions, committees and boards. Known as a fearless warrior, he was well recognized and awarded many accolades for his leadership. His vision and commitment to create an exceptional life for his family and community was limitless.
He had a strong passion as a voice for his tribe, with a fondness for elders and youths. He was an inspiration to many people, friend to countless and very generous. He was a lover of life who enjoyed a good laugh although you had to earn access to that side of him. He was a private, kind, loving, caring father, husband, brother, uncle and friend. He enjoyed exercise, sports, gardening, his dogs and horse, music and movies but mostly spending time with his family and working with his community. He spearheaded many projects.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Louis Manuel Sr. and Alfretta Garcia, and two brothers, Joseph and Brian Manuel Sr. He is survived by his wife, Yolanda Rodriguez; two adult children, Reannon and Jeremy Manuel; their mother, Patricia Cerna; two stepchildren, Michael and Vanessa Garcia; and three siblings, Rosalie Perry, Jeff Manuel and Erica Leigh Manuel.
Public visitation at the Ak-Chin Community Center on Monday, April 13, from 4 to 8:30 p.m. Due to health recommendations, the wake and interment will be limited to immediate family only. Please work with the officials and be aware that waiting in the car may be necessary.
J. Warren Funeral Services in Casa Grande, Arizona are charge of arrangements.
Former Chairman Louis Manuel joined Chairman Stevens and others in 2016 representing the Indian gaming industry at the Palace of Westminster in London, England.