SACRAMENTO, Calif. California Indian Nations Gaming Association (CNIGA)
Executive Director Jacob Coin resigned on Oct. 6 to take an unspecified job
with the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.
CNIGA is the largest lobbying group for Indian gaming in California and
currently represents 65 mostly, though not exclusively, gaming tribes.
"We thank Jake for his commitment to CNIGA and its member tribes and wish
him the best of luck," said CNIGA chairman Anthony Miranda in a press
CNIGA communications director Susan Jensen said she did not know
specifically why Coin left his high-profile position.
A member of the Hopi Tribe of Arizona from the Village of Kykotsmovi, Coin
had held his position at CNIGA since August 2000. His tenure at CNIGA was
one of meteoric growth for Indian gaming in California.
Coming on board just a few months after California voters had approved
Proposition 1A, which legalized Indian gaming in California through the
state constitution, Coin's tenure at the helm of the lobbying group saw
tribal gaming emerge from bingo halls and tent operations to a
multi-billion dollar industry.
The success of Indian gaming during Coin's tenure, however, did not come
without a few bumps in the road. In 2002 a group of about 10 tribes decided
to split with CNIGA and though the defecting tribes and CNIGA publicly
claimed a harmonious split, there were underlying rumors that Coin's
sometimes confrontational style with state gambling officials had rubbed
some of the tribes the wrong way.
The tensions stemmed from spats between CNIGA and the Gambling Control
Commission appointed by former Gov. Gray Davis. Coin and former Commission
Chairman John Hensley were often publicly at odds over the limits of state
power over tribal gaming operations and their dispute lasted until Hensley
departed last year.
In a 2002 interview with Indian Country Today at the time of the
defections, Coin said that divisions could be expected especially among so
many different sovereign governments with divergent interests.
Despite the defection Coin largely managed to keep the sometimes fragile
coalition together and has presided over a period of relative harmony since
the defection and not a single tribe has split with CNIGA since 2002.
Coin came to CNIGA after his tenure at the National Indian Gaming
Association, a national lobbying group, in Washington D.C., where he also
served as executive director, a post he had previously also held with the
Arizona Indian Gaming Association.
Prior to that Coin was instrumental in a successful public referendum on
gaming for Arizona Indian tribes. Perhaps ironically, Coin's own tribe has
decided not to allow gaming and has voted in the past few months against
allowing tribal gaming.
Jensen said that a replacement for Coin has not yet been named. Though
press reports have indicated that CNIGA chairman Miranda has assumed
leadership duties, Jensen points out that it is always the chairman, an
elected position within the organization that holds leadership duties in
CNIGA and that the executive director heads the permanent staff.