The Indian Gaming Association (IGA) and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) jointly hosted a press briefing this past week, declaring the revival of the IGA/NCAI Tribal Leaders Task Force. This significant announcement was made 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, jointly shared the news. 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. The aim is to kick-start a national dialogue to develop a comprehensive strategy to address the issues plaguing Indian Country." stated Stevens.
Stevens emphasized the myriad of problems Indian Country is grappling with, including adverse Supreme Court decisions, climate change, threats to Tribal sovereignty, jurisdiction, economic self-sufficiency, women’s health, and child protection. He firmly stated, "This Taskforce will hold this Country accountable for its commitments and promises, as made by various Presidents and enshrined in our Treaties and the Constitution.”
The core mission of the revived Tribal Leaders Task Force is to devise strategies to counter unprecedented anti-Tribal Sovereignty Supreme Court decisions. The aim is to ensure that Tribal Governments continue to exercise their inherent sovereign rights over their land, jurisdiction, and tribal citizens.
Stevens pointed out the urgency of the Taskforce’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 reiterated the significance of the Taskforce’s reactivation. She expressed her concerns about the damage caused by adverse court decisions and the danger they pose to Indian country. Sharp stated, "The need for swift and decisive action to counter these threats is urgent. The reactivation of this task force is timely, necessary, and desperately needed across Indian Country.”
Sharp expressed her confidence in the collective power of tribal nations, stating, "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 first official meeting of the reactivated Tribal Leaders Task Force is scheduled to take place at the NCAI Mid-Year Convention and Marketplace at the Mystic Lake Hotel & Casino in Prior Lake, Minnesota, from June 4 to 8, 2023.