ICT interview with NIGA's Ernie Stevens on Carcieri and Internet

"National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) Chairman Ernie Stevens Jr., a citizen of the Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin, says there was “a real sense of tribal unity” at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, which he attended in early September along with more than 140 Native American Democratic delegates. Indians could have a major impact on the November national elections, he insists. “There are 18 states that are up for grabs, and most of these states have large Native populations of more than 10 percent, enough to help decide this election.”

With the election drawing near, Indian Country Today Media Network asked Stevens to weigh in on the major unresolved issues related to gaming that Indian country faces and to assess the chances for making progress on them, depending on which party prevails in November.

In February 2013 it will have been four years since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its devastating Carcieri v. Salazar ruling. Is there any hope of Congress passing a Carcieri fix this year? Since the Democrats haven’t been able to pass a fix, is there any hope if a Republican administration comes in? And how is the Carcieri ruling affecting Indian gaming?

The Supreme Court’s Carcieri decision was a direct attack on tribal sovereignty. It attacks the ability of tribes to restore our homelands, and that is a core aspect of tribal sovereignty. The case is a jobs killer for Indian country, which is already facing unemployment rates averaging 50 percent, and it’s further harming tribal economies by deterring investment in Indian country.

I think the chances of Congress passing a clean Carcieri fix prior to the election are minimal. Congress is in D.C. for less than 10 days of work before they leave town to campaign for the November 6 elections. Our best window of opportunity in 2012 will be the lame-duck session from mid-November to mid-December. Most members of Congress understand that this is about jobs and about protecting tribal sovereignty. We have broad bipartisan support in the House, and Senator [Daniel] Akaka [D-Hawaii] has made it one of his top priorities."

Get the Story:
NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens Jr. Weighs In on Carcieri and Internet Gaming (Indian Country Today 10/1)

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