WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week, the Indian Gaming Association (IGA) concluded the 2023 Summer Legislative Summit at the Stanley Crooks Tribal Leaders Conference Center with continued dialogue between tribal leaders and Congressional representatives and a discussion with the reactivated National Congress of American Indians/Indian Gaming Association (NCAI/IGA) Tribal Leaders Taskforce.
The IGA Summer Legislative Summit is one of two yearly forums designed to bring tribal leaders together from throughout Indian country to discuss issues central to tribal communities and tribal governments.
Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr., opened the summit’s last day. “When we continue to dialogue with Congress, federal agencies, and tribal organizations, we are continuing to impress upon them the importance of the government-to-government relationship between Indian Country and the federal government,” said Stevens. “There are critical health, safety, infrastructure, and educational issues impacting our reservations. This summit serves as a major catalyst for increasing our awareness efforts and galvanizing Congress to uphold its trust responsibilities to tribal governments. The work that we have to do here is immense and comes with an enormous responsibility to ensure Indian Country’s concerns are heard.”
The day started with an update from the NCAI/IGA Taskforce presented by IGA Chairman Stevens and President Fawn Sharp of NCAI. Executive Director Jason Giles, along with Larry Wright, Jr., Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians, provided specific policy issue updates on gaming, healthcare, the environment, and infrastructure in Indian Country.
“It is important to stress that both organizations [IGA and NCAI] are here at the direction of tribal leadership, and we continue to work together to stand firm in protecting our tribal sovereign rights,” said Stevens. “This taskforce will hold this country to its commitments and promises.”
“I am fiercely committed to the NCAI/IGA Taskforce because the challenges are immense, and we all need to come together,” said Sharp. “We need swift and decisive action to address the threats to tribal sovereignty. And that is why we are here today; there’s a need to reactivate this taskforce. It is timely, necessary, and desperately needed across Indian Country.”
Jason Giles provided updates about the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision allowing the open pit lithium mine at Thatcher Pass in Nevada to proceed. He also discussed some of the recent Supreme Court decisions affecting Indian Country. He also highlighted Justices Alito and Thomas’s solid and consistent opposition to any aspects of tribal sovereignty.
The NCAI/IGA Tribal Leaders Taskforce will convene again during the Indian Gaming Association Mid-Year Conference at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut from September 12-14.
IGA Vice Chairman David Bean provided an update on the Maverick gaming case in the State of Washington. This was followed by a panel discussion and updates on the Interior Appropriations by Pete Kirkham, President of Red Maple Consulting; John Harte and Gordon Kenny at Mapetsi Consulting; and Allison Binney, Partner at Allison Binney Law.
Representative Betty McCollum (MN-4th) joined the Summer Legislative Summit and provided tribal leaders with a Congressional update. The 2023 Summer Legislative Summit concluded with a discussion regarding the Native American Farm Bill. With the 2023 Farm Bill on the horizon, the Coalition will continue to advance Native policy priorities as Congress begins discussing the upcoming legislation.
The next gathering of the tribal leaders will be at the Indian Gaming Association’s Indian Gaming Mid-Year Conference on September 12-4, 2023, at the Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation in Mashantucket, CT.