2015 marks a milestone year for the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA). The 30th Annual Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention, slated for March 28 through April 2, is certain to be the premier event in Indian country. This year’s new and improved trade show features a conference program that has been redesigned to speak to the issues surrounding Indian gaming today. With the high profile plenary sessions and keynote addresses, attendees are sure to take away insights and understanding about important issues affecting Indian country and tribal gaming.
Indian Gaming 2015 also features plenty of opportunities for interaction and exchange. From plenary sessions, the membership meeting, commissioner certification trainings, workshops, seminars, receptions, banquets, golfing and a premier trade show floor and exhibit, we will bring enormous benefits and opportunities for learning and growth. In these sessions, attendees can learn a tremendous amount of value about the Indian gaming industry, not only from the expert presenters, but from the many Indian gaming professionals who have years of experience behind them and can share what has worked for them to capture more market share and to improve upon regulatory compliance.
While there is ample social time built into the show for networking and sharing in an amazing downtown San Diego setting, there are invaluable takeaways from those venues. Attendees will develop lasting business partnerships, professional relationships, have current and future market trend discussions and create alliances that advance and promote the Indian gaming industry overall. The significance of these kinds of interactions is so important to the future vitality of the industry and keeps our economic engine churning.
Native American culture is woven throughout the trade show like the fabric of our lives. This is essential to upholding NIGA’s mission to promote tribal sovereignty and Indian self-reliance. From the spirit-felt performances of the California Bird Singers to the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin Smoke Dancers, the Alaskan Yaaw Tei Yi Dancers to the diverse and beautiful arts and crafts displayed by the vendors, the 30th annual trade show is a culturally laced crowd pleaser.
In addition to the trade show and culture, NIGA hosts three award ceremonies. The 17th Annual Wendell Chino Humanitarian Award Banquet & Concert is the most prestigious trade show event and honors the life of Wendell Chino, longtime president of the Mescalero Apache Nation who spent his life protecting tribal sovereignty and advancing Indian self-governance. Wendell’s son, Mark Chino, will be on hand once again to present this award. Legendary rock band Foreigner will bring down the house at the conclusion of the banquet.
Another recognition is the NIGA Chairman’s Leadership Award, which honors individuals and tribes who have contributed and advocated for tribal sovereignty and economic development; they are presented during the Chairman’s Luncheon. And finally, the 5th annual Tim Wapato Sovereign Warrior Award is another prestigious honor given by NIGA during the trade show’s Cultural Reception to a man or woman warrior carrying on the messages of determination and powerful advocacy that were hallmarks of the late Tim Wapato, former executive director of NIGA. He had a very illustrious career from being a Las Angeles police detective to his work with his own tribe in Colville, Wash., and a powerful presence in Washington, D.C. Tim’s wife Gay Kingman-Wapato, who continues the work she did with her husband to this day with the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association, will be in attendance to present the award.
While NIGA finds it important to prepare our membership for the future and acknowledges the trailblazers in Indian country, it also finds significance in remembering where NIGA came from. Formed in 1985 to promote, protect and preserve the interests of tribes with respect to the conduct of gaming activities in Indian country, NIGA continues to advocate and be the national resource for Indian gaming.
After 30 years, only our most visionary tribal leaders could have foreseen the progress that Indian gaming has brought about—the schools, hospitals, police and fire stations, cultural and community centers that have been built, and the job, career and life opportunities that have been created for our native people and our neighbors. Although many tribes have prospered and there are many good stories to be told, we still have many that remain in economic struggle and hardship. Still more rebuilding must be done in our tribal communities and much more work to be done to continue to advocate for and protect the rights of tribal governments. We are optimistic that gaming as an economic development tool will continue to pave the way for those tribes that have not prospered.
The most important product of the entire trade show comes through the NIGA Tribal Membership meeting. The agenda for the membership will cover the most pressing and significant issues impacting Indian country, from Internet gaming to regulatory issues and everything in between. The tribal chairpersons, councilmembers, gaming commissioners and other tribal delegates will be fully engaged in dialogue; they will hear from other tribes, the federal government, regulatory officials and other high powered panels of experts to update them on current issues. When our leadership stands together and keeps our minds as one, it makes NIGA strong and ensures our industry will continue to flourish for generations to come.
Be sure to join us at the 2015 Indian Gaming Tradeshow and Convention. You will not want to miss it!