WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Indian Gaming Association (IGA) began the 2023 Summer Legislative Summit last week at the Stanley Crooks Tribal Leaders Conference Center in Washington, D.C., with the two-day legislative summit – the second onsite summit post-COVID-19 pandemic. The forum is designed for tribal leaders nationwide to discuss issues central to tribal communities and governments.
“The Summer Legislative Summit is one of our most instrumental gatherings of tribal leadership at the Indian Gaming Association,” said Indian Gaming Association Chairman Stevens. “It allows us to dialogue with the leadership at the Nation’s Capital, and more importantly, it is another opportunity to continue to educate this administration and Congress about the critical need of our tribal communities. With the political climate that Indian Country currently faces, we continue to stand ready to deal with our issues head-on, and that means educating, talking, meeting, and holding our ground with dignity and respect in protecting tribal sovereignty. We win the battle by standing together no matter what comes before us.”
He also shared that because of these impressing issues facing the Indian Country, tribal leaders called upon the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the Indian Gaming Association were called upon to reactivate the NCAI/IGA task force to respond to these repeated attacks on our sovereignty. “We immediately acted and are working together along with tribal leaders standing firm defending tribal sovereignty,” said Stevens. The task force is also included on the Summer Legislative Summit agenda.
Jason Giles, Executive IGA Executive Director, provided tribal leaders with an IGA 2023 legislative update, discussing many issues, including the recent debt ceiling fight, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and the potential of a government shutdown in September.
“It is hard to see how they will avoid a shutdown due to the political climate,” said Giles. “Tribal governments need to be ready to provide critical emergency services because the possibility of a shutdown could impact tribes during the onset of colder weather, which is troubling.”
Giles also provided updates on other issues, including the SLOT Act, sports betting, and the Maverick case.
Representative Maggie Harrington (WY – At-Large) joined the summit, providing Senate updates and continued commitment to Indian Country in her work as the Interim Chairperson of the Subcommittee on Indian and Insular Affairs and Congress. Rep. Harrington impressed upon the importance of focusing on finding solutions to finding uses for land and economic development. She shared that HR56, currently in Congress, would allow all tribes to be able to lease their land for economic development and that the Subcommittee is looking to return land taken by the Army Corp of Engineers along the Missouri River and to return 40 acres for a monument honoring the dead at Wounded Knee.
“I do not believe we are meeting our commitments to Indian tribes, and I want to address that,” said Harrington. “I know that some tribes have taken over the responsibility themselves and are providing excellent care. The Subcommittee will hold a hearing later this month to address the quality of care provided.”
Harrington was followed by updates from Jackson Brossy, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Native Affairs with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), who provided information on the new federal tools for Native-owned businesses, and Sequoyah Simermeyer, Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) by Zoom. Both joined the summit and provided an organizational update and a further commitment to continue the strong collaborations developed with Indian Country and organizations such as the Indian Gaming Association.
Tribal leaders also heard from Representative Mary Peltola (AK – At-Large). Peltola provided an update on her work in Congress, which includes work on the Farm Bill, Indian Health Services, and the Tribal Law Enforcement Parity Act.
Representative Dina Titus (NV-01), the Co-Chair of the Congressional Gaming Caucus, joined the summit following Peltola. Titus shared that part of the tasks of the caucus is to educate people about gaming. “We have not done a very good job convincing people how much revenue from gaming goes into our communities,” said Titus. “Our job is to try to educate people.” She also shared updates on the SLOT Act, sports betting, e-sports and problem gaming, and the Discriminatory Gaming Tax Bill 2022.
The afternoon session included a briefing by the Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS). Attendees heard from Deborah Parker, Chief Executive Officer, and James LaBelle, Senior President of NABS.
The day concluded with updates on the Tribal Tax Parity in Congress by Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI). The first day of the 2023 Summer Legislative Summit concluded with the evening tribal leaders reception.