Two major gaming tribes chose new leaders last month.
Despite battling allegations of conspiracy, fraud and theft, Ben Shelly was declared the winner of the Navajo Nation’s presidential election, defeating New Mexico state Senator Lynda Lovejoy, who had wanted to be the nation’s first female president.
Shelly received 52.7 percent of the vote, but Lovejoy’s campaign indicated that it is not conceding the election and may file a complaint because some precincts didn’t have enough ballots.
In 2004 the Navajo Nation overcame internal objections and made the decision to become a gaming tribe. The tribe operates a casino in To’hajiilee, near Albuquerque and is negotiating to operate several casinos in Arizona. The nation spans New Mexico and Arizona.
Shelly replaces Joe Shirley, who led the tribe to the gaming decision, but was prohibited from running for a third term by the tribal constitution.
And the Seneca Nation of New York, which operates the Seneca Allegany Casino and Hotel and the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel last week elected Robert Odawi Porter as president. He defeated his rival Maurice A. John Sr., a former Seneca president, by 1,671 votes to 500.
Porter is a law professor and expert in tribal law. Seneca presidents serve two-year terms. His tribe faces a lawsuit to attempt to halt its construction of a third casino in Buffalo. But it also faces challenges by the federal government investigating its mail-order business and the attempt by New York state to tax its business.