Browning, Montana - The National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) and the Blackfeet Gaming Commission hosted a NIGA Gaming Commissioner training at the Glacier Peaks Hotel & Casino in Browning, Montana on February 22-24, 2017.
Blackfeet Tribal Chairman Harry Barnes joined Chairman Stevens in welcoming the attendees. Barnes offered a warm welcome to the Commissioners present and said, "I welcome you to the Blackfeet Nation on behalf of the Blackfeet People. We are glad to have you here. Here at Blackfeet, we are considering a change to our constitution. The change will be for the betterment of our Tribe, just as your training will be for you. It will help you in your regulatory responsibilities." The group was especially pleased to have Chairman Barnes join them as he is currently on limited duty due to a recent injury he sustained.
At the request of the Blackfeet Gaming Commission, NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr., joined the event to address Tribal Gaming Commissioners from throughout the Montana, South Dakota and Washington area who were in attendance.
Chairman Stevens addressed the attendees, "I am happy to be here with you as you learn and as you build upon and share your knowledge of regulation in the Indian Gaming industry. You are the protectors of our operations, and without you, we cannot maximize the dollars that go back into our communities to provide the many needed services and programs that improve the quality of life for our members. What you learn here is what we want you to take back to your communities to maintain the strong regulatory reputation that the Indian Gaming industry has built. Not all employees and elected officials can attend from your communities, so you must go back and share your knowledge. You become the teachers when you leave here. Between your experience, education, and training you become the experts."
The NIGA Commissioner Certification trainings are hosted throughout the United States throughout the year to provide tribal gaming commissioners with education, information, and technology related to regulating their gaming properties.
The two-and-a-half-day agenda included educational topics covering many aspects of the gaming regulation industry, including effective written communications, lab testing, auditing, licensing, tribal sovereign immunity and the gaming regulator, a history of Class II gaming and surveillance, cheats and scams.
Attendees were also treated to a welcome reception and dinner hosted by the Blackfeet Tribal Council. Vice Chairman Terry Tatsey provided a strong message for the regulators and made clear his priority in education and training and more specifically his support of Tribal Colleges. He said, "We have to make sure we are well prepared (referring to education and training), and we work together so that we can have greater success."
Chairman Stevens also took the time to recognize several tribal and gaming leadership attendees with a Chairman's leadership plaque. They included; Terry J. Tatsey, Vice-Chairman of the Blackfeet Nation, Leonard Twoteeth, Vice Chairman and Troy Felsman, Secretary of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Jay DustyBull, Chairman of the Blackfeet Gaming Commission andRaymond "Jazz" Parker, General Manager of the Northern Winz Casino.
Chairman Stevens thanked the leadership and said, "It's always great to come to the great state of Montana and be with such outstanding leadership. The Positive Impacts of Indian Gaming are the result of the work that all of you do to continue to protect the integrity of Indian Gaming, and we want to recognize you for the work you do."
While in Montana, the Chairman also met with a number Montana Tribes and Gaming Officials on a new initiative to work together and network on local, regional and national issues centered on gaming. He offered the following story, "I've worked the Hill with the Montana Tribes. More than twenty years ago, the Montana Tribes brought their horses to Washington, D.C. when Congress was considering potential negative actions regarding Tribal Gaming. Their presence was felt, and it resonated throughout Washington, D.C. We at NIGA continue to count on the Tribal leadership here in Montana because you continue to make our organization strong."