NIGA Hosts Successful Annual Winter Legislative Summit

National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. and Vice Chairman Kevin Leecy join Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (D- NM 1st Dist.) and Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN 4th Dist.) for a photo at the annual NIGA Winter Legislative Summit held at the Stanley Crooks Tribal Leaders Conference Center in Washington, D.C.

National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. and Vice Chairman Kevin Leecy join Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (D- NM 1st Dist.) and Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN 4th Dist.) for a photo at the annual NIGA Winter Legislative Summit held at the Stanley Crooks Tribal Leaders Conference Center in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. - The National Indian Gaming Association hosted their annual Winter Legislative Summit at the Stanley Crooks Tribal Leaders Conference Center in Washington, D.C. last week.

The yearly legislative winter gathering provides legislative updates, reports, and information from members of Congress and the Presidential Administration.

National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr., welcomed attendees, he said  "I welcome all of you to our fine facility here on Capitol Hill.  In the truest meaning of the words, this meeting room and the expansion of this facility are dedicated to the memory of one my mentors, Stanley R. Crooks.  He wanted a place for Indian Country to be able to meet and strategize and work our agenda with Congress.  We are fortunate to have the Tribal Leaders Center to gather and bring our minds together as we embark on our education and lobby efforts with Congress and the Administration. "

Tribal leaders and Indian gaming representatives heard updates on gaming and economic development, tribal labor relations, restoration and protection of tribal homelands, and respect for tribal sovereignty from a variety of organizations and congressional representatives. Attendees heard from the National Indian Health Board on the new healthcare bill that was introduced just this week, Jonodev Chaudhuri & fellow Commissioners of the National Indian Gaming Commission and an update on the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), provided by Jodi Gillette, an advocate and lobbyist on Native American Issues and Policy Advisor at Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Endreson & Perry, LLP.

Congressional representatives who provided legislative updates included, Congressman Tom Cole (R - OK 4th Dist.); Senator Steve Daines (R-MT); Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D - WI 4th Dist.); Congressman Darrel Issa (R - CA 49th Dist.); Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ 6th District); Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA 1st District); and Congresswoman Norma Torres (D-CA 35th Dist.).  Attendees also heard updates from Mike Anderson, the Senate Committee of Indian Affairs (SCIA) Staff Director and Chief Counsel. 

The first day's agenda concluded with discussions with the Tribal Economic Growth Alliance.  Chairman Stevens kicked off the discussion and said, "Economic Development is a key component of what we have to do (Indian Country).  We need to be passionate about it and we need to appreciate that this is what we have to push with this administration!  As I carry forward the legacy of my Father from some forty years ago in his work with the Indian Policy Review Commission, we must prioritize the advancement of Economic Development for all of Indian Country.  We've been making America great for a long time.  Tribal Government Gaming has done our share to help this Country in its biggest recession in well over seventy years.  However, we must continue to work this new Administration to help them understand who we are as Sovereign Tribal Governments and the many needs that continue to go unmet in Indian Country. 

On Wednesday, March 08, the NIGA Winter Legislative Summit agenda included Senator John McCain (R-AZ); Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN 4th Dist.); Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (D- NM 1st Dist.); Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-WA 6th Dist.); Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA 8th Dist.); Congressman Paul Cook (R-CA 8th Dist.); Congressman Raul Ruiz (D-CA 36th Dist.); Congressman Jeff Denham (R-CA 10th Dist.);  Congressman Tony Cardenas (D-CA 29th Dist.); Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT 1st Dist.); Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-CA 1st Dist.) and Mark Cruz, a representative of Congressman Tod Rokita (R-IN 4th Dist.)

The day concluded with a presentation from the Department of Energy, Office of Indian Energy Policy & Programs Director, Chris Deschene.  They are engaging with Tribal Casinos to "Go Green," and extended an invitation to the National Tribal Energy Summit, May 1 -3, 2017 in Washington, DC at the JW Marriott. 

Chairman Stevens said of the event, "As always, we have the responsibility to our member Tribes to continue our advocacy for the many issues we need addressed on behalf of Indian Country.  From Tribal Labor Sovereignty, to restoring our homelands, to maintaining the Indian Health Care Improvement Act and preparing our priorities for infrastructure and economic development initiatives that are on the horizon, we must me diligent.   We must be on the ground working with this new administration and we need to be straight forward, informative and the champions of our cause.  The work of the National Indian Gaming Association, our partner organizations and Tribal Leadership is critical.  We must continue to be diligent, continue working together and continue to have our voices heard in Congress and the Administration."

Tribal Leaders and gaming representatives will come together next month at the NIGA Indian Gaming Tradeshow and Convention, April 10-13 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego California.  For more Information: www.indiangaming.org.