Washington, D.C. – January 13, 2023 – The Indian Gaming Association (IGA) joins the rest of Indian Country in mourning the loss of Coeur d’Alene Tribal leader David Matheson, who passed away suddenly on Tuesday morning. He was 71 years old.
Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. said, "We are saddened to hear about the sudden passing of David Matheson. His commitment and passion for the advancement of the Coeur d’Alene Community were exemplary and left an example to follow. He was a great Warrior for all Indian country and will surely be missed.”
Stevens remembered, “David greatly impacted my early visits to the Nation’s Capital as a young tribal leader. He was a prominent figure that the White House and the administration looked up to, and Indian country truly benefited from his leadership.”
According to a press release by the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, Matheson's sudden passing is a profound loss of a revered, accomplished, visionary leader. Matheson was the driving force behind the construction of the Coeur d'Alene Casino and Circling Raven Golf Club, enterprises that have been highly beneficial for the Tribe and its members.
Coeur d’Alene Chairman Chief Allan said, "Dave has left us a profound legacy. He was a true visionary who had the foresight to see the great possibilities for the Tribe and Native Americans. He was the architect behind many of our enterprises, endeavors that have enabled us to thrive as we stride forward in the 21" century.
Coeur d'Alene Casino CEO Laura Penny released a statement. “As many have learned, Dave Matheson, our former CEO, passed yesterday morning. While our hearts grieve for him and his family, it's uplifting to know that he lived his life brilliantly, passionately, and with great empathy for his people. He loved his family, the Tribe, and the Earth deeply.
Penny added, “We can all take solace in knowing that he walked the walk of his philosophy: ‘The Great Creator promised no one a tomorrow, or an easy time … no one. When the new day comes, greet it with great thankfulness. It is a time not used by anyone. Use it for something good, even great. It’s the one life we have. Leave no dream unfulfilled and no good deed undone.”
Not only was Matheson a mover and shaker of incalculable proportions for the Tribe, his hard, smart, and impassioned work helped him ascend to the highest Native American post federally - serving under President George H.W. Bush from 1990-93 as head of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Matheson was a Coeur d'Alene Tribal Council Member at the time of his passing, a position to which he was elected on multiple occasions. He also served previously as Chairman of the Coeur d'Alene Tribal Council, the youngest to be elected to the position.
He earned a Master's in Business Administration from the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington, in 1989. He did his undergraduate work there from 1970 to 1974, majoring in Political Science, originally planning on going to law school.
Matheson, an uncle and mentor to IGA Board Secretary Paulette Jordan, leaves behind his wife, Jenny. Together they raised five children and have more than two dozen grandchildren. His favorite hobby and pastime were riding and training horses, spending active time with his children and grandchildren, and enjoying the outdoors, hunting, and fishing.