NIGC officially gets new member in Sequoyah Simermeyer

E. Sequoyah Simermeyer, the new associate commissioner of the National Indian Gaming Commission. Photo from NIGC

The National Indian Gaming Commission finally has a new member.

E. Sequoyah Simermeyer was officially named as the associate commissioner of the agency on Monday. He will serve a three-year term as a key regulator of the $28.5 billion tribal casino industry.

“Sequoyah brings extensive Indian policy background to the commission and he will be a great addition to our team,” NIGC Chairman Jonodev Chaudhuri said in a press release. “I very much look forward to working with him and I know he will be instrumental in keeping the NIGC on its current path of success."

An unusual set of circumstances left Chaudhuri alone at the NIGC following his confirmation by the Senate in April. The agency lost its second member in May and hasn't had a third member since January 2013.

The situation changed when Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on September 30 announced the nomination of Simermeyer. He was subject to a 30-day comment period before he could officially join the NIGC.

"Sequoyah joins a team of talented and hardworking public servants who are committed to creating greater economic opportunities and upholding the highest ethical standards when it comes to Indian gaming," Jewell said. "His wide range of experience and expertise in Indian Affairs makes him a very well qualified person to help the commission oversee these important responsibilities in Indian Country."

Simermeyer comes to the NIGC from the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. He served as counsel to Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), the chairman of the panel.

"He has been a valuable member of our team at the committee and I know he will do well at the NIGC. Sequoyah’s hard work and expertise have made him a strong advocate for issues essential to Indian Country," Barrasso said.

Simermeyer previously served as deputy chief of staff and counselor to the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the Bureau of Indian Affairs during the administration of George W. Bush. He also worked for the National Congress of American Indians.

“I am excited to join the NIGC team and become an active member of the commission,” said Simermeyer. “I look forward to working with Jonodev to perform our regulatory duties and strengthen the dialogue and relationships with all relevant stakeholders in our efforts to ensure regulatory compliance and gaming integrity.”

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 calls for three people to serve on the NIGC. One is the chairman, to be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, while the other two commissioners are appointed by the Secretary of the Interior Department.

Except for a brief period in 1990, when the agency got off the ground with its first chairman and sole member, the NIGC has never gone with less than three members for a prolonged period of time up until the Obama era.

IGRA also requires at least two of the members of the NIGC to belong to "any Indian tribe." Chaudhuri is a citizen of the Muscogee Nation of Oklahoma. Simermeyer is a member of the Coharie Tribe of North Carolina and is also Navajo, according to a 2007 press release from the BIA.

Federal Register Notice:
Proposed Appointment to the National Indian Gaming Commission (September 30, 2015)

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National Indian Gaming Commission finally sees another member (09/30)
National Indian Gaming Commission unveils redesign of website (9/29)
Senate committee takes look at regulation of tribal gaming (7/23)
NIGC down to one member as leader faces Senate hearing (7/22)

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