Tribal Education

Tribal sovereignty, national labor law and its relation to tribes, and tribes’ inherent ability to conduct gaming were subjects of discussion last week as the National Indian Gaming Association hosted members of Congress in the nation’s capitol.

The National Indian Gaming Association last week hosted U.S. senators and representatives at its legislative summit in Washington D.C., while attempting to educate them about the billion Indian gaming industry.

There were about three dozen speakers.

Leading off was Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Chairman John Barrasso, who talked about the committee’s accomplishments, including the passage of the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act.

Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota told attendees, “If the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act went away tomorrow, you would still be able to conduct gaming. We shouldn’t have to educate people on this issue but we do.”

Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva declared, “My first priority is the protection of tribal sovereignty. Tribes have the right to negotiate things like Internet gaming. The revenue generated goes to help rebuild tribal infrastructure.”

Another subject of discussion was the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act, which would make clear that national labor laws do not apply to tribes.

Rep. Gwen Moore noted that the issue divides some political segments. “I am a strong supporter of labor but sometimes there are fights that you have to fight with your friends and this is one of them.”

The head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Kevin Washburn, told the gathering, “Our problems in Indian Country stem from poverty. If we’re serious about addressing these issues then we have to deal with the issue of dual taxation … because no one wants to be taxed twice. That may be the single barrier to economic development.”

National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) Chairman Jonodev Chaudhuri gave a video presentation of the Gross Gaming Revenue Annual Report.