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In The Hoop
THURSDAY, MAY 15, 2003

Welcome to In The Hoop, Indianz.Com's occasional column about assorted Indian issues.

Hogen Goes Where Norton Won't
Remember BITAM? Phil Hogen, chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission, certainly does. Because he had another job in the Bush administration before he got his current job.

"I learned when I was over at the Department of Interior the lesson of BITAM," Hogen told the Senate Indian Affairs Committee yesterday. "Secretary Norton came out with a plan and tribes said, 'We're not talking about that, you didn't talk to us first.'"

Hogen was the DOI's Solicitor of Indian affairs and attended many "consultation" sessions about BITAM. It was he, along with Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles, who eventually brought the bad news that the Bush administration opposed legislation to create trust fund standards that can be judicially enforced.

Ernie David Thoreau Stevens
Did you know that Ernie Stevens, president of the National Indian Gaming Association, has a criminal record? It turns out that he has a misdemeanor conviction in Washington, D.C., because he dared to protest the Supreme Court.

"We staged a very respectful and rehearsed demonstration hoping to educate the Supreme Court about tribal issues. That demonstration was called civil disobedience," he recalled yesterday. "We were incarcerated briefly for being on the Supreme Court steps. It was all rehearsed and we got a $50 fine and were bailed out of jail."

The funny part was that he though his co-horts from the National Congress of American Indians and the Native American Rights Fund, who also participated in the protest, were supposed to go along too. But he said only he and Catawba Nation Chief Gilbert Blue got jailed.

"I'm not ashamed of that," he said of his arrest and detainment.

The Price is Right
Ernie Stevens was definitely not happy that NIGC will be getting $12 million for fiscal year 2004, compared to $8 million for the current year. "Do you know any other government agency that gets a 50 percent increase in one year?" he said.

Well In The Hoop has an answer. It's the trust reform budget at DOI! In 2002, trust reform got $223 million. In 2003, trust reform got $481 million.

You do the math.

New Friends
Before the end of the Clinton administration, Ernie Stevens was very fond of praising Liz Homer, one of the NIGC's commissioners. He referred to her repeatedly as a "sister" because well, to be frank, she sided with tribes on a lot of issues. So did former commissioner Terry Poust. Former chairman Montie Deer didn't.

But Stevens seems to have erased all three from his institutional memory. "If you could go select the best three people to do that job -- and I had my choice -- I would select the ones that have been selected to do this job," he said, referring to NIGC's Boys Club of Phil Hogen, Chuck Choney and Nelson Westrin. "We don't always agree but you have three outstanding professionals in this capacity."

In Your Hoop
Who was your favorite NIGC official? Harold Monteau? Ada Deer? Jana McKeag? Write us and let us know.

More of In The Hoop
May. 9 | May. 8 | May. 2 | Apr. 25 | Apr. 24 | Apr. 23 | Apr. 18 | Apr. 16 | Apr. 11 | Apr. 11 Winners, Losers | Apr. 4 | Apr. 3 | Mar. 28 | Mar. 21 | Mar. 20 | Mar. 14 | Mar. 13 | Mar. 7 | Mar. 6 | Feb. 28 | Feb. 26 | Feb. 21 | Feb. 20 | Feb. 19 | Feb. 14 | Feb. 13 | Feb. 11 | Feb. 7 | Feb. 6 | Jan. 31 | Jan. 30 | Jan. 24 | Jan. 23 | Jan. 17 | Jan. 16 | Jan. 15 | Jan. 10 | Jan. 9 | Jan. 2 | Dec. 20