A historical row house was joined with a carriage house to form the National Indian Gaming Association's (NIGA) new Capitol Hill headquarters.
Last Monday, June 13, marked the beginning of a three-day celebration for the building expansion. The evening's soft opening was a special thank you to the tribes and associate members who contributed donations for the project, which began in 2011.
"There were many challenges, because this area of Washington is a 'historic district,'" said Ernie Stevens, NIGA Chairman. "There are restrictions and requirements for compliance in the historic district that required additional permitting, inspections and approvals."
Individuals who attended the event were treated to building tours, as they enjoyed hors d'oeuvres and listened to tribal leaders' memorable speeches. The intimate gathering was an ideal backdrop to show NIGA's appreciation and gratitude for the generosity of donors, a NIGA press release states.
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community initiated the fundraising campaign for the expansion in 2010. The tribe was represented by Chairman Charlie Vig, Vice Chairman Keith Anderson and Secretary/Treasurer Freedom Brewer. A large delegation of Stanley Crooks' family was also present for the honoring and dedication of the Stanley Crooks Tribal Leaders Center.
The list of donors includes: The Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, The Tulalip Tribe of Washington, Poarch Band of Creek Indians, Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, Forest County Potawatomi Community, Mohegan Tribe, Seminole Tribe of Florida, International Game Technology (IGT), Jicarilla Apache Nation, The Tule River Tribe, Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, Lytton Rancheria - Band of Pomo Indians, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians, The Three Affiliated Tribes (MHA Nation - Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara), Downstream Casino - Quapaw Tribe, Redding Rancheria, POB Insurance, Boise Forte Band of Chippewa, Cowlitz Indian Tribe and Tejon Indian Tribe.
Their contributions toward the building expansion will make NIGA's presence on Capitol Hill even more powerful in the years to come and ensure the protection of tribal sovereignty and the preservation and promotion of gaming conducted in Indian country, the NIGA release states.
Beautiful Pendleton blankets with a Grand Opening logo and plaques of appreciation were given out to all of the generous donors. "In true Native tradition, the sharing of gifts and offering words of encouragement and thanksgiving was truly memorable," Stevens said.
NIGA additionally thanked its sponsors for their support of the evening's festivities. IGT and 2020 Casino Solutions (Mille Lacs Corporate ventures) provided the food and gift bags. IGT's team of Mary Hayashi, Dan Farnon, Scott Gunn and Knute Knutson were recognized for their continuing years of support of Indian gaming.
"NIGA continues looking forward to the days ahead," Stevens said. "We will remember the historical journey, the battles that have been waged and fought and celebrate the future progress of Indian gaming."
The National Indian Gaming Association, established in 1985, is a non-profit organization of 184 Indian Nations with other non-voting associate members representing organizations, tribes and businesses engaged in tribal gaming enterprises from around the country. The common commitment and purpose of NIGA is to advance the lives of Indian peoples economically, socially and politically. To learn more about the National Indian Gaming Association visit www.indiangaming.org.