NIGA Tribal Membership Held Annual Meetings at Indian Gaming 2019

April 3, 2019 (San Diego, CA) – The National Indian Gaming Association’s (NIGA), two-day Tribal Leaders meeting, continued on Wednesday afternoon, April 3rd, with the annual elections of the Chairman and Secretary positions at the National Indian Gaming Association.

Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. and Secretary Paulette Jordan sought re-election to their positions unopposed and were successful in garnering the unanimous support from tribal leadership to continue serving in their current positions.

This is the ninth term for Chairman Stevens and the third term for Secretary Jordan.

With his family by his side, including his wife of 40 years Cheryl, Chairman Stevens was sworn in as Chairman. He thanked the membership saying, “I am humbled by your continued belief in me, and I pledge to you once again. I will continue to maintain my belief that my work is my campaign and it is something I take very seriously. My bosses are all around this table, and I take my direction from you all. We have a big agenda, and we must continue to work together to continue to accomplish that work on behalf of the people we serve and to protect Indian country for the next seven generations. I am re-affirming my commitment to you all. “

Stevens also acknowledged his mother Marjorie Stevens who made her first-ever visit to the annual tradeshow. “My leadership style is influenced by the women who have molded me in my life. My mother, who always impressed upon me the importance of statesmanship, had a vital role in impressing upon me the importance of women in community and leadership. I fully understand that I am a Warrior, strongly influenced by Women in leadership.”

A significant highlight of this year’s Indian Gaming tradeshow was the Women Warrior’s panel session leading up to the ribbon-cutting event, held earlier in the day. The panel recognized the strong success of Indian countrywomen, who have helped strengthen their communities through their leadership.

Coming fresh off a run for Idaho State Governor and after two terms in the Idaho State House of Representatives, tribes once again elected Paulette Jordon to serve as Secretary of the National Indian Gaming Association board. In introducing Jordan, Chairman Stevens acknowledged her accomplishments, and he said, “In her role in the campaign trail for Governor and as a State Legislator, Paulette has been a strong advocate, working hard to educate all about our tribal government rights and tribal sovereignty.”

After being sworn in, Jordan said, “It is a privilege to serve Indian country in this regard, to be a voice for many of our people because we always fight on the frontlines, and it is important to continue to do so.”

After the assembled audience concluded the election, they heard from an esteemed panel on the “Native Vote and Candidate Development.” Theresa Sheldon, the Native American Outreach for EMILY’S List, and Kevin Killer, former South Dakota State Senator and Co-founder for Native American Youth Leadership Alliance, moderated the discussion. Their presentations centered around updates on the 2018 elections and the importance of continuing the push to get out the vote in all of Indian country. Through her work at EMILY’S List, Theresa is striving to keep the momentum from last year’s elections to find Native American candidates for the 2020 election cycle.

The final panel of the Membership Meeting was the “Supreme Court and The Federal Court Rulings and Their Impacts on Indian Country,” moderated by Jason Giles, Executive Director of the National Indian Gaming Association. Executive Director Giles was joined on the panel by Steve Gunn, Law Professor Washington University St. Louis, and Mark Van Norman, from Van Norman Consulting.

There have been numerous court cases in the past two years, percolating up from State and District Court levels, that threaten the sustained viability of the Tribal Sovereignty Doctrine. Professor Gunn, a frequent litigator and appeals advocate for Tribes in the Midwest, urged that Tribal Governments must start looking at alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to avoid these lengthy and costly court battles. Mr. Van Norman recommended that Tribes start to explore insurance and reinsurance programs to forestall visitors to the reservations from dragging Tribes or their employees into court. This discussion is of utmost importance to Tribal Leaders and their ability to conduct economic pursuits. Chairman Stevens committed to make this an on-going focus for the remainder of the year into NIGA’s Mid-Year Event on September 23-25, at Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut.

The 2019 NIGA Membership Meeting concluded with the official retiring of the colors by the Southern California American Indian Veterans Association.