Quapaw Nation’s Barker Honored for Financial Leadership

Quapaw Nation Secretary-Treasurer Guy Barker was named Tribal Executive of the Year at NAFOA’s 40th annual leadership awards conference in Seattle last week.

Quapaw Nation’s Barker Honored for Financial Leadership

The Quapaw Nation’s Secretary-Treasurer Guy Barker was recognized as Tribal Executive of the Year last week at the 40th annual leadership awards conference of the Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA) in Seattle. NAFOA is the country’s oldest and most respected non-profit dedicated to promoting excellence in financial management and fiscal policy in Indian Country. It works with more than 130 tribes, and partners with dozens of the country’s largest corporations like Dell, Bank of America, BKD CPAs & Advisors and other national and regional companies.

Notably, Barker worked to refinance the Quapaw Nation’s two casino resort properties, Downstream Casino Resort in Quapaw, Oklahoma and the Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. When Saracen opened in 2019, the Quapaw Nation became Oklahoma’s first Native American tribe to open a gaming facility outside the state. The combined savings of refinancing both properties could save the Quapaw Nation nearly half a billion dollars over the next decade. Over time, that savings will directly impact tribal citizens by funding expanded health care, housing, education and other social services.

“NAFOA is honored to present the Executive of the Year Award to Secretary-Treasurer Barker,” said Rico Frias, NAFOA executive director. “His accomplishments strengthening the financial well-being of the Quapaw Nation within his first term in office is an impressive feat and serves as a great example for other young tribal executives.”

Barker was elected as secretary-treasurer in July 2020. By the fall of 2021, he helped the tribe achieve credit rating upgrades by Moody’s and S&P Global to secure more favorable financing. By December 2021, only a year and a half into his first term, he completed the refinancing of both casino resort properties.

“I’d like to thank President Danforth and the entire NAFOA board of directors for this incredible honor. I’m humbled that an organization with NAFOA’s legacy of supporting tribal communities through financial stewardship recognizes our dedication to protect and grow the Quapaw Nation’s assets,” said Barker. “Although I’m honored to accept this award as Executive of the Year, we are blessed with a truly remarkable team of leaders and financial stewards. Over the past two years, our team’s hard work from the gaming floor to the executive offices has been transformational. I’m confident it will pay dividends to our tribal citizens in the form of tribal services for generations. Accepting this award from my peers is an honor, but it remains a privilege to serve the Quapaw people in the years to come.”

NAFOA also honored Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana Chairman Marshall Pierite as “Tribal Leader of the Year” for 30 years of dedicated service and leadership.

The San Manuel Gaming and Hospitality Authority (SMGHA) was recognized with the “Large Deal of the Year Award” for its $650 million acquisition of the Palms Casino Resort. “Small Deal of the Year Award” went to the Tule River Tribe and the Tule River Gaming Authority for closing a $175 million syndicated bank financing for constructing the new Eagle Mountain Casino.

The Honorary Leadership Award went to Casey Winn Lozar, an enrolled member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Lozar is the vice president and director of the Center for Indian Country Development (CICD) for the Federal Reserve based out of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.