WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Indian Gaming Association (IGA) recently kicked off the 2023 Winter Legislative Summit at the Stanley Crooks Tribal Leaders Conference Center in Washington, D.C., with a two-day legislative summit, which was the first onsite summit post-COVID-19 pandemic. The forum was designed for tribal leaders from around the country to discuss issues central to tribal communities and governments.
“The Winter Legislative Summit is one of the most instrumental gatherings of tribal leadership at the Indian Gaming Association,” said Ernie Stevens, Jr., Chairman of the Indian Gaming Association. “It allows us to dialogue with the leadership at the nation’s capitol, 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, after the recent midterm 2023 elections, we again 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.”
Tribal leaders were focused on current legislative and regulatory topics, which present a broad array of issues for the 2023 legislative calendar. These issues were explored in the panel “The 2023 Outlook – Engaging with the new 118th Congress,” moderated and presented by John Harte, Partner at Mapetsi Consulting, and Aurene Martin, Managing Partner at Spirit Rock Consulting.
Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) joined the summit providing key Senate updates and promising his continued commitment to Indian Country in the Senate.
A central panel of tribal representatives brought together a discussion on the Native American Farm Bill. With the 2023 Farm Bill on the horizon, the coalition will continue to advance Native policy priorities such as “Buy Indian” and “Indian Procurement” from the federal government. The panelists included Abi Fain of the Intertribal Agricultural Council; Jon Van Pool, Director of Policy and Governance of the Indigenous Foods and Agriculture Initiative from the University of Arkansas School of Law; and Phil Baker-Shenk of Holland & Knight, LLP on behalf of the Shakopee Sioux Tribal Nation.
U.S. Treasurer, Chief Lynn Malbera, joined tribal leaders to provide updates on the Treasury’s Tribal Affairs and the Treasury’s new Office of Tribal and Native Affairs. She was joined by Fatima Abbas, Director of the Office of Tribal & Native Affairs of the U.S. Treasury, and Rico Frias, Executive Director of the Native American Financial Officers Association (NAFOA), to wrap up the morning sessions of the summit.
The afternoon discussion with tribal leaders included a visit from Representative Jared Huffman (CA-2). It was followed by updates from Sequoyah Simermeyer, Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission, and Jackson Brossy, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Native Affairs, with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). 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.
The final session of the day was entitled the “Broadband Spectrum Licensing” panel, which included speakers Dane Wilson, Assistant Director for Internet Access from the White House, Heidi Todacheene, Senior Advisor to Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Alex Blenkinsopp, Senior Policy Advisor to Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
The first day of the 2023 Winter Legislative Summit concluded with the evening tribal leaders reception.
The next gathering of the tribal leaders will be at the Indian Gaming Association’s Indian Gaming 2023 Tradeshow and Convention on Mar. 27 – 30, 2023, at the San Diego Convention Center. For more information, visit www.indiangaming.org.