SOURCE: Bois Forte Band of Chippewa

May 06, 2008 14:58 ET

Bois Forte Chairman Re-Elected as Vice Chair of NIGA

National Indian Gaming Association Win Marks Leecy's Second Re-Election This Month

TOWER, MN--(Marketwire - May 6, 2008) - When it rains, it pours, and last month's April showers delivered not one but two re-election victories to Bois Forte Chairman Kevin Leecy.

First, Bois Forte voters gave Leecy 52 percent of their votes in the Band's April 1 primary, re-electing him as tribal chairman for unprecedented back-to-back terms. The majority vote eliminated the need for a general election, winning Leecy the seat outright.

Second, delegates from 184 Tribes across the country re-elected Leecy as Vice Chair of the National Indian Gaming Association at their 17th Annual Convention and Trade Show in San Diego last week. Leecy was first elected vice chair two years ago. This year he beat out Hubert Nanty of the Tonto Apache Tribe of Payson, Ariz.

In his speech to delegates, Leecy acknowledged the many gaming challenges facing American Indians. The National Indian Gaming Commission is working to tighten its regulatory grip, Leecy said. For example, NIGC is trying to redefine Class II gaming in narrower terms and to outsource tribal regulatory authority, a worrisome prospect to any American Indian.

"From now through 2010, we will have to keep the pressure on -- to prevent amendments to IGRA, to push back against an expanding power grab by the NIGC, to enhance our strength by increased collaboration throughout Indian country, to increase our public relations and educational efforts, and to expand our participation in the political process at every level," Leecy told delegates.

Though Leecy retains leadership of NIGA amid a challenging climate, he expressed optimism in San Diego, citing the council's successful defeat of Senator John McCain's bill to amend the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. "At the end of the day, we were victorious," he said. "There's a lesson there for all of us: When we speak out and stand together in defense of the inviolate principles of tribal sovereignty, we win, even when the odds against us appear to be insurmountable."

Back home in Tower, Leecy said his campaign efforts have ended and his work can now continue without distraction. "[My re-election to NIGA] is not just an empty honor, but a substantial responsibility. I am strongly committed to my leadership role and pledge to go the extra mile to fulfill it -- to visit our foes and allies; to ask the right questions; and to listen closely. My goal is to work hard, think innovatively and act prudently, to marry information and instinct in keeping with our proud Indian tradition."

NIGA, established in 1985, is a non-profit organization comprised of 184 Indian nations with other non-voting members representing organizations, tribes and businesses engaged in tribal gaming enterprises from around the country. NIGA's overarching goal is to advance the lives of Indian people.

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