In Memoriam: Ada Deer, Former NIGC Chairwoman

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) announced the recent passing of former NIGC Chairwoman Ada Deer. A pioneer and advocate for Native American rights and a revered member and leader of the Menominee Indian Tribe, she played a vital role in shaping the landscape of tribal gaming and advancing the interests of Indigenous communities across the nation. 

While with the NIGC and holding federal office, a number of legislative proposals debated the scope of the United States’ relationship with tribal nations. Her perspectives on the federal-tribal governmental relationship often echoed the views of many tribes, and Deer’s tenure in 1997 as NIGC’s first Chairwoman demonstrated her commitment to upholding the integrity of Indian gaming while fostering economic growth and self-sufficiency for tribal nations. Today, the industry exceeds the historic $40 billion level and its footprint extends to Indian land in 29 states. Her leadership contributed to gaming’s growth and the benefits it provides across many tribal communities and regional economies. 

“Ada Deer’s impact on the tribal gaming industry is well reflected by her steadfast support for tribal sovereignty, economic self-sufficiency, and the well-being of Native American communities,” said E. Sequoyah Simermeyer, NIGC Chairman. “The agency is grateful for her leadership, wisdom, passion, and unwavering commitment to protecting and preserving tribal gaming. We extend our deepest condolences to her family, friends, and all those whose lives she touched.”