Las Vegas, NV - Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation President Bernadine Burnette honored at the National Center for American Indian Enterprise (NCAIED) with their Tribal Gaming Visionary Award at the 2017 Reservation Economic Summit (RES) in Las Vegas, Nevada on Wednesday, March 15, 2017.
The prestigious Tribal Gaming Visionary Award is presented to an individual, gaming leadership, gaming enterprise or tribal government for their efforts in promoting Native-to-Native business along with exemplary contributions to create jobs for Native people and communities.
National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr., who also serves on the NCAIED Board, presented the award to Burnette. He said, "President Burnette is a leader who wants to get work done efficiently and effectively, and it is always with her tribal community and Indian country in mind. The outstanding growth of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation is a reflection of their vision of self-sufficiency for their tribal members. The Nation has developed eight enterprises that have diversified their business portfolio and extends their Native-to-Native trade and employment opportunities. "
Burnette, who also serves as the Chairperson of the Arizona Indian Gaming Association (AIGA) and is the former Secretary of the National Indian Gaming Association, accepted the award on behalf of her community. "I humbly accept this recognition on behalf of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. The vision of our community comes from our ancestors, and the road we take is in the direction of our people. We are guided by our sovereignty and grounded in Yavapai traditions and culture, always striving to improve the health, well-being, and happiness of our nation."
Burnette was elected President of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation in 2016 and has served for more than two decades as a Tribal Council Member and during that time has held the positions of Secretary, Vice-President, and President.
In 2012, then Vice President Burnette was named "Indian Gaming Advocate of the Year" by the National Indian Gaming Association for her work to preserve gaming rights. She was selected as "Woman of the Year" by former Arizona Governor Jane Hull and honored by the Arizona Republic for her resolute leadership as one of only seven female Native American tribal Presidents in the nation in 1999.
The Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation is one of 22 tribes in the State of Arizona and has been an integral part of the economic growth and impacts state-wide. They are also in the forefront to the protection of native rights. In 1948, two Yavapai veterans of WW II sued the state of Arizona for the right to vote and won. In 1981, Fort McDowell successfully fought against the construction of a dam that would have flooded much of their reservation. In 1992, the U.S. Government seized the Yavapai Nation's gaming machines, which led to an 18-day peaceful standoff that resulted in a victory for Fort McDowell and tribal gaming across the nation.
President Burnette is a pioneer who remains a powerful advocate for all of Indian Country. She will be the first to tell you she serves at the pleasure and wishes of her community, who are so deserving of this award.