CHAIRMAN’S REPORT ERNEST L. STEVENS, JR. Oneida Nation of Wisconsin
T his past year marked milestones, opportunities, and challenges for the Indian gaming industry and all of Indian Country. With all that took place, one vivid image stands out: the January 3, 2019 swearing-in ceremony of not one but two Native American women to serve in the United States House of Representatives. These two additional Native voices in Congress, working to educate federal policymakers from within, shattered a more than two-century barrier that our entire Nation celebrated. However, the celebration of this historic landmark was tempered by the fact that it took place in the midst of federal government shutdown that cost the United States economy from $6 – $10 billion and took a toll many times worse on Native communities. Funding for programs and services administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Indian Health Service, and other federal agencies subject to the shutdown represent the Government’s most basic attempts to meet these solemn obligations. With little regard to these promises, the Administration and Congress mindlessly waded into a five-week shutdown that endangered lives and property on tribal lands, burdening those most in need. NIGA was surprised that it went to the level that it did, and as a result, we monitored its impacts very closely. I canceled all other activities on my calendar and returned back to Washington, DC to elevate the level of the discussion, both on the Hill and throughout Indian Country. NIGA is a powerful voice in Washington, DC. But we are many times stronger when the leadership of our Tribes weigh in, and in this case, that is what made the difference. I am proud to report that many of NIGA’s Member Tribes took steps not only to care for themselves but also reached out to the communities around them. In the true sense of our Native traditions, we extend ourselves in whatever way we can to share our resources and to make sure that the most basic needs of the people are met. Whether it is helping others during a government shutdown, reaching out to communities devastated by natural disasters, or giving individuals and communities a hand up by aiding in economic development efforts throughout the Nation—Indian gaming has been there for American families and rural communities.
4 INDIAN GAMING - ANNUAL REPORT 2019
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