Thursday, August 07, 2008

IGRA Pathbreakers Named

Native Americans to be honored for their contributions to Indian gaming rights

Six people who have worked to protect and expand Indian gaming rights since the inception of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act 20 years ago will be honored this fall by the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

The individuals, named “Pathbreakers” for their leadership in helping tribes achieve economic freedom, will be lauded during a national conference sponsored by the College’s Indian Legal Program. “Indian Country’s Winning Hand: 20 Years of IGRA” will be Thursday and Friday, Oct. 16-17, at the Radisson Fort McDowell Resort & Casino in Scottsdale/Fountain Hills. The Pathbreaker’s Banquet will be Oct. 16 in the resort’s Courtyard Plaza.

Robert Clinton, Foundation Professor of Law and a co-chair of the conference’s planning committee, said Indian gaming has been the “white buffalo of the reservation economies, providing the first successful means of economic self-sufficiency for many tribes since their traditional economies were destroyed or decimated through the processes of non-Indian settlement of their former lands.”

The Pathbreakers, who were selected by their peers on a committee comprising leaders of major Indian gaming organizations and programs, have been in the forefront of efforts to restore tribal self-sufficiency and respect for tribal sovereignty, Clinton said.

“They are modern-day warriors who have successfully and selflessly fought important battles for their people, without any thought of personal gain -- the mark of a true tribal leader,” Clinton said. “We are privileged and honored to recognize and celebrate the important work and accomplishments of these Indian Gaming Pathbreakers.”

The six are:
· Frank L. Chaves, Former Chairman, New Mexico Indian Gaming Commission. Chaves has worked on gaming issues with tribal governments in New Mexico for more than 12 years. A member of the Pueblo of Sandia, he served as the director of economic development for the Pueblo and was co-chair of the New Mexico Indian Gaming Association.
· Richard G. Hill Sr., Chairman, Oneida Nation of Wisconsin. For nearly 20 years, the Hill name has been synonymous with Indian gaming and tribal economic development. He is a former chairman and spokesperson for the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA), and he led a national negotiating team in the 1990s to resolve conflicts over Indian gaming between the states and tribal leaders.
· John A. James, Chairman, Cabazon Band of Mission Indians. James has been at the forefront of Indian gaming in California for several decades, from bringing high-stakes bingo to the Cabazon in the 1980s to developing a premiere gaming destination in Southern California. He also is chairman of the Cabazon’s Business Committee and a former executive secretary of NIGA.
· Mark Macarro, Chairman, Pechanga Band of LuiseƱo Indians. With the support of the California Nations Gaming Association, Macarro served as spokesman for a number of successful Indian gaming ballot initiatives in that state. He represents the Pechanga in the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and on the board of directors of the NIGA, and is chairman of the Riverside County Sheriff Native American Affairs Commission.
· Clinton M. Pattea, President, Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. Pattea has served on the Nation’s Tribal Council for more than four decades. Arizona’s success in Indian gaming often is attributed to the visionary leadership of Pattea, who was involved in negotiations in the 1990s with then-Gov. Fife Symington who’d refused to discuss a compact with the Nation.
· Ernest L. Stevens Jr., Chairman, National Indian Gaming Association. First elected in 2001, Stevens is in his fourth term at the IGRA helm. He is a former councilman for the Oneida Nation and former first vice-president and treasurer of the NCAI. Stevens recently received the 2008 Gaming Executive of the Year award from the International Masters of Gaming Law.

The conference is a balanced 20-year retrospective of the successes, failures and impact of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988. The conference sponsors are offering an early registration rate of $350, through Sept. 15; thereafter, the rate is $450, through Oct. 10. Pathbreaker’s Banquet tickets are being sold separately for $100 each, through Oct. 8. To register or order tickets, go to For more information, call Darlene Lester at (480) 965-7715.

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