One of the favorite locations for the annual Indian Gaming trade show produced by the National Indian Gaming Association is San Diego. When this year’s version of the show arrived in San Diego, it brought with it 5,000 attendees.
Held on the occasion of NIGA’s 25th anniversary, the event was dedicated to Native Americans who played significant roles in the development of Indian gaming, who died in the last year: Chief Philip Martin of the Mississippi Choctaw tribe, Tim Wapato, NIGA’s first chairman, a member of the Colville Confederated Tribe, and others.
NIGA also honored many living legends. At the Chairman’s Leadership Awards Luncheon, Oneida Nation of Wisconsin Chairman Rick Hill, 45-year Tulalip Tribes board member Stan Jones, and Kurt BlueDog, general counsel of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, were recognized for their contributions to the industry. At the 12th Annual Wendell Chino Humanitarian Award Banquet Wednesday night, Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anouatubby was honored, followed by a performance of the legendary rock band Guess Who. NIGA leadership was also re-elected, with Vice Chairman Kevin Leecy and Treasurer J.R. Matthews returned to office.
NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens said he’s proud of the business that is done each year at his organization’s annual trade show and conference.
“I like to keep things in house,” he told Indian Country Today. “That’s why we’ve got something happening every night, because we want people to see what we do, we want people to interact with one another, and do the business of Indian country. It’s an understatement to say business goes on at NIGA. I think that’s where the business is built, where the business is protected, where people are educated about the business and where it’s advanced.”