Organizers of a national conference this fall at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law have gone “all in” to ensure the program, an examination of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, is provocative, balanced and educational. “Indian Country’s Winning Hand: 20 Years of IGRA,” Oct. 16-17 at the Radisson Fort McDowell Resort & Casino in Scottsdale/Fountain Hills, will be hosted by the College of Law’s Indian Legal Program. “I doubt any other university could match the talent, knowledge and expertise that will be offered at this conference,” said Bradley Bledsoe Downes, a co-chair of the planning committee and partner at the Phoenix law firm of Bledsoe Downes & Rosier, PC. “The willingness to gather different perspectives and not simply offer a homogenous celebration of the 20-year anniversary of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act is unique.” Also notable is the decision to honor four individuals who’ve influenced gaming in Indian Country during a banquet on Oct. 16. The event will be hosted by Wallace Coffey, chairman of the Comanche Nation. Now through June 15, the law school is accepting nominations from tribes, tribal gaming associations and commissions, practitioners in Indian Country, government agencies and lobbyists of people, to be called Pathbreakers, who deserve recognition for their contributions to gaming. The honorees will be announced in July on the conference registration Web site, www.law.asu.edu/ilp. According to the National Indian Gaming Association, Indian gaming was a $200-million industry when the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was enacted in 1988. Today, the industry earns $19 billion a year, revenue that is spread among tribes across the United States, according to the association. The conference will focus on how the act has changed Indian Country, and affected tribal government relationships with the states, the federal government and tribal members. “When the IGRA was first passed, few people had any idea that gaming would play such a tremendous role as an economic engine in Indian Country and, for that matter, the gaming industry and the United States as a whole,” said Heidi McNeil Staudenmaier, a partner at Snell & Wilmer L.L.P. in Phoenix and a planning co-chair. “It is a milestone worthy of honoring and bringing together many of the legal minds and other principal players involved in such an historical event.” Bledsoe Downes said the panels will both educate and fascinate participants, including tribal leaders and attorneys, governmental regulators, legislators and policymakers, casino developers and gaming-industry managers and faculty and students of Indian law. “The conference promises to bring together many different perspectives – academic and practical, historical and modern, and tribal and non-tribal – sometimes all in one panel,” he said.
Panels include: •A History of the Enactment of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act •Federal Implementation of the IGRA: The National Indian Gaming Commission, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Department of Justice •Class III Gaming Compacts and the Impact of Indian Gaming on Tribal-State Relations •The Economic Impacts of Indian Gaming •Indian Gaming’s Impact on the Tribes •Indian Gaming and the Federal-Tribal Relationship •Where Does Indian Gaming Go From Here?
McNeil Staudenmaier will moderate the panel on Class III gaming compacts, which permit tribes to have “Las Vegas style” gaming, and their effect on relations among tribes and states. “Since the passage of IGRA, there has been extensive litigation and other battles between a number of the tribes and the states where they are located over obtaining compacts,” she said. “Most of the states have ultimately agreed to negotiate compacts with the tribes, but there still are a couple “holdout” states that have refused to.” The conference will explore issues raised in papers from a prominent lineup of scholars, including: Kevin Gover, director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and a professor on leave from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law; Professor Rebecca Tsosie, executive director of the College of Law’s Indian Legal Program, a Willard H. Pedrick Distinguished Research Scholar, and affiliate professor in the American Indian Studies Program at ASU; Robert Clinton, a Foundation professor of law at the College of Law and an affiliated professor in the American Indian Studies Program; and Kevin K. Washburn, an incoming professor at the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona and formerly of the University of Minnesota Law School. Speakers include Franklin Ducheneaux, former attorney for Indian Affairs with the House Interior Committee, W. Richard West Jr., former director of the National Museum of the American Indian, and Ernest L. Stevens Jr., chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association. In addition to the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, the conference is sponsored by the National Congress of American Indians, the National Indian Gaming Association, the American Indian Policy Institute at ASU, the Native Nations Law and Policy Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, the American Indian Law Center, Inc., the Arizona Indian Gaming Association, the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, and the New Mexico Indian Gaming Association. For more information about the conference or to register, go to www.law.asu.edu/ilp. To nominate a Pathbreaker, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (480) 965-1306.