PHOENIX ? Ned Norris Jr., chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation, has been elected chairman of the Arizona Indian Gaming Association and Leonard Chee, Navajo Nation council delegate, has been elected treasurer of AIGA. Elections were held at the AIGA meeting Jan. 16. Bernadine Burnette, vice-president of Fort McDowell-Yavapai Nation was re-elected as vice chair of AIGA. Diane Enos, president of Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, will continue as secretary.
Norris was elected chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation in 2007 after serving as vice chairman. He served as director of marketing at the tribe’s Desert Diamond Casino and has been a judge for the tribal government.
The Tohono O’odham Nation, translated as “desert people,” is a federally recognized tribe located in southwestern Arizona. It is one of the largest tribes in the southwest with a land base of 2.8 million acres, and has nearly 28,000 members, living both on and off the reservation.
Chee, a council delegate from Leuppe, Birdsprings, Tonali Lake chapters, located near Flagstaff, is vice chair of the Budget and Finance Committee of the Navajo Nation Council. The Navajo Nation has the largest land base of Arizona tribes. It is about the size of West Virginia and spans Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The reservation is almost 18 million acres with a population of more than 180,000 people. The Navajo Nation recently opened its first casino, located in New Mexico along Interstate 40.
The AIGA was established Nov. 21, 1994 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the lives of Indian peoples – economically, socially and politically – so Indian tribes in Arizona can achieve self-reliance.
AIGA has a membership of 19 tribes representing 90 percent of the Indian people living on reservations in Arizona. Membership includes Ak-Chin Indian Community, Cocopah Tribe, Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, Fort Mojave Tribe, Gila River Indian Community, Havasupai Tribe, Hualapai Tribe, Kaibab-Paiute Tribe, the Navajo Nation, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Quechan Tribe, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, San Carlos Apache Tribe, San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, Tohono O’odham Nation, Tonto Apache Tribe, White Mountain Apache Tribe, Yavapai-Apache Nation and the Zuni Tribe.