In what they are calling “burgeoning threats to Tribal sovereignty and Tribal treaty rights,” the Indian Gaming Association (IGA) and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) declared they were reviving the IGA/NCAI Tribal Leaders Task Force.
The announcement was made last week at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., through both in-person and Zoom attendance.
Ernie Stevens, Jr., chairman of the IGA, and Fawn Sharp, president of the NCAI, were at the press conference. Stevens explained that the decision to reactivate the Task Force was a direct response to various burgeoning threats to tribal sovereignty and tribal treaty rights.
The call for action came directly from tribal leaders across the country, highlighting the necessity for a collective strategy to tackle the challenges faced by Indian Country at a national level.
“National Tribal Leadership has requested the two largest Tribal advocacy organizations to unite and reenergize the IGA/NCAI Taskforce,” Stevens said. “The aim is to kick-start a national dialogue to develop a comprehensive strategy to address the issues plaguing Indian Country.”
Stevens pointed out several problems Native American tribes are facing. Some of them include adverse Supreme Court decisions, climate change, threats to tribal sovereignty, jurisdiction, economic self-sufficiency, women’s health and child protection.
“This task force will hold this country accountable for its commitments and promises, as made by various presidents and enshrined in our treaties and the constitution,” Stevens said.
Stevens emphasized there was an urgency of the task force’s work, especially in light of potential adverse rulings from the Supreme Court on the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and the ongoing crisis of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Persons.
NCAI President Sharp agreed with Stevens that the task force’s revival was crucial to protect their rights. She also said she was concerned about the damage caused by adverse court decisions and the danger they pose to tribal nations.
“The need for swift and decisive action to counter these threats is urgent,” Sharp said. “The reactivation of this task force is timely, necessary, and desperately needed across Indian Country.
“Together, tribal nations are truly unstoppable. Regardless of the challenge or threat, we always emerge stronger, and I’m confident about the potential of this reactivated task force.”
The group plans on having its first meeting at the NCAI Mid-Year Convention and Marketplace at the Mystic Lake Hotel & Casino in Prior Lake, Minnesota, from June 4 to 8.