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Michael Hoenig
Michael Hoenig. Photo courtesy National Indian Gaming Commission
National Indian Gaming Commission announces departure of general counsel
Monday, January 23, 2023

The longest-serving general counsel at the National Indian Gaming Commission is departing at the end of the week, the federal agency announced.

Michael Hoenig has worked for the NIGC since 2006, with seven of those years as general counsel. His tenure has seen significant change in tribal gaming, which has grown to a $39 billion industry, according to the most recent figures.

Hoenig is leaving the NIGC on Friday, according to an agency news release. He will be serving as Vice President and Associate General Counsel for Gaming at the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, a tribal nation in southern California.

“It is with mixed emotions that I depart NIGC,” Hoenig said on Monday. “I am sincerely grateful to have been privileged enough to get to serve with the amazing staff to advance the mission and purposes of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act –- to protect Tribal gaming as one of the most important economic resources in Indian country.”

“I look forward to continuing that mission from a slightly different perspective in this new role with the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians,” said Hoenig.

With Hoenig departing, NIGC Chairman E. Sequoyah Simermeyer said Rea Cisneros will serve as acting general counsel and Esther Dittler will serve as acting Associate General Counsel. They are joined by Sharon Avery, who serves as the other Associate General Counsel at the agency.

Cisneros, a citizen of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, has worked for the NIGC since January 2019, according to a news release. Avery, a citizen of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe, joined the agency in January 2020.

Dittler is Mohawk from the Six Nations of the Grand River in Canada. She re-joined the NIGC in February 2020, according to a news release.

The NIGC’s Office of General Counsel is responsible for a wide range of legal matters, including issuing Indian lands opinions, reviewing tribal gaming ordinances and examining management contracts.

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