Six Indian gaming "Pathbreakers" will be honored at a conference 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 since the inception of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988, will be lauded during a national conference sponsored by the College's Indian Legal Program. "Indian Country's Winning Hand: 20 Years of IGRA," a provocative, balanced and educational examination of the act, will be Thursday and Friday, Oct. 16-17, at the Radisson Fort McDowell Resort & Casino in Scottsdale/Fountain Hills. The Pathbreaker's Banquet, hosted by Wallace Coffey, chairman of the Comanche Nation, will be Oct. 16 in the resort's Courtyard Plaza. "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." 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 Luiseño 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.
According to the National Indian Gaming Association, Indian gaming was a $200-million industry when the IGRA was enacted. 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: oA History of the Enactment of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act oFederal Implementation of the IGRA: The National Indian Gaming Commission, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Department of Justice oClass III Gaming Compacts and the Impact of Indian Gaming on Tribal-State Relations oThe Economic Impacts of Indian Gaming oIndian Gaming's Impact on the Tribes oIndian Gaming and the Federal-Tribal Relationship oWhere 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; Clinton, who also is an affiliated professor in the American Indian Studies Program; and Kevin K. Washburn, a professor at the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona. Keynote speakers are Franklin Ducheneaux, former attorney for Indian Affairs with the House Interior Committee, and W. Richard West Jr., former director of the National Museum of the American Indian. In addition to the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, the conference is sponsored by the NCAI, the NIGA, 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.