Uncasville, CT – September 18, 2019 – The National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) honored Rodney Butler, Chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe with the prestigious John Kieffer Sovereignty Award at the 2019 NIGA Mid-Year Conference and Expo.
Hosted at the Mohegan Sun Resort & Casino in Uncasville, the John Kieffer Sovereignty Award was presented to Butler during the Sovereignty Luncheon that is held each year during the NIGA Mid-Year Conference.
Named in honor of the late John Kieffer of the Spokane tribe, recipients of this prestigious award are chosen based on their embodiment of NIGA's mission and purpose. Kieffer was a dedicated member of the NIGA Executive Committee and advocated for Indian self-determination and tribal sovereignty.
Chairman Stevens reflected on the late John Kieffer, "So many great things have happened in Indian country, but we still have a lot of work to do. There are so many tribes that need us. That's why we need more people like the late John Kieffer. He was a worker who worked hard morning, noon, and night. He worked hard for his people, his family, and he worked hard for Indian country. We memorialize him and celebrate the memory of his life."
Kieffer's sons Charles and Spokane Tribal Council Members Danny Kieffer joined Chairman Stevens spoke about Kieffer's life, his determination and his service to Indian country.
Danny Kieffer, who is serving in his second term on the tribal council at the Spokane Tribe thanked NIGA for honoring his father's memory with the award, "it is a great honor for not only my family but for the Spokane tribe. My dad loved being on the tribal council, and he fought hard for Indian gaming. He was a great man who continued to fight hard for Indian country."
Chairman Stevens presented the Kieffer awards to Chairman Rodney Butler. Stevens said, "Chairman Butler is one of the most dynamic leaders in Indian country. He is always ready to go to work for not only his people but for all of us defending tribal sovereignty. He is flat out a gentleman and such a great Warrior. We are all honored by his leadership."
Butler humbly accepted the recognition, "This is such a tremendous honor. It is not only about me, but all of our team. It is a collective effort."
Butler added, "Being a leader is about self-denial. It's about having the courage to taking risks and do things that have never been done before. It's about doing the right thing for the betterment of everyone else, taking a stand for those who can't defend themselves, and raising them to be the very best they can be."
Butler is the Chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation since January 2010. Chairman Butler also served as Interim CEO for Foxwoods Resort Casino. Mr. Butler’s service on Tribal Council began in 2004, one year later in 2005, he was appointed Tribal Council Treasurer; a position he held through 2009. During his tenure, Mr. Butler chaired the Tribe’s Finance, Housing and Judicial Committees.
Butler earned his bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of Connecticut where he played defensive back for the UCONN Huskies' football team. Prior to Tribal Council, Butler worked in the finance department at Foxwoods Resort Casino. He later became Chairman of the Tribal Business Advisory Board; an executive body responsible for overseeing the Tribe’s non-gaming businesses and commercial properties. Butler was actively involved in resort expansions at Foxwoods, as well as the Phase VII housing development on the Reservation and the establishment of the Mashantucket (Western) Pequot Tribe Endowment Trust. He was also a participant in Harvard Business School’s program: "Leading People and Investing to Build Sustainable Communities". As Chairman, Butler’s focus is to ensure long-term stability for the Tribe’s government and business enterprises.
Chairman Butler is the 2019 recipient of the Citizen of the Year award from the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce, and in 2019 he received the St. Edmund’s Medal of Honor Award from the Enders Island Retreat Center.
In 2017, Chairman Butler was appointed "Tribal Leader of the Year" by the Native American Finance Officers Association. He presently chairs the board of directors for the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut, serves on the board of trustees for Roger Williams University and is a member of the board of directors for the Mystic Aquarium.
This year, Butler joined the ranks of past recipients of this honor including Mark Macarro, Chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño, John Warren, Chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, David Bean, Chairman of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, Kevin Brown, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribe of New York, and Melanie Benjamin, Chief Executive of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe; Kurt Blue Dog of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community; Tracy Burris of the Chickasaw Nation; Chairman Mark Brown of the Mohegan Tribe; Chairwoman Lynn Valbuena of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians; and Anthony R. Pico, former chairman of the Viejas Band of Mission Indians, Charles Colombe, former President of the Rosebud Tribe and Ernest L. Stevens, Jr., Chairman of NIGA just to name a few.