St. Paul, MN–(September 8) Franklin D. Ducheneaux, former Counsel on Indian Affairs to the U.S. House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs and a key figure in the drafting of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), will deliver the keynote address at a September 15 banquet hosted by the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association (MIGA) in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Minnesota’s tribal gaming compacts. Minnesota’s compacts were the first in the nation to be negotiated and signed under IGRA, a process that begin in 1989 and concluded in 1991.
Ducheneaux, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, rose to prominence in 1973 as Indian Affairs Counsel to the House Subcommittee on Indian Affairs under Congressman Lloyd Meeds (D-WA). In 1977, he was appointed by Congressman Morris K. Udall (D-AZ) to serve as Indian Affairs Counsel to the full House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee.
From 1973 to 1990, Ducheneaux played a key role in the crafting of virtually every major piece of Indian legislation to come before Congress, including the Indian Self-Determination Act, the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, the Indian Child Welfare Act, the Indian Mineral Development Act, and in 1988, IGRA. During his tenure, he earned a reputation as a fierce and effective advocate for tribal sovereignty and self-determination.
Ducheneaux’s role in the development and passage of IGRA was particularly pivotal, according to MIGA Executive Director John McCarthy A February 1988 Supreme Court decision (California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians) had reaffirmed the right of sovereign Indian tribes to conduct gaming on their own lands without interference from states as long as gambling was legal under state laws.
In the wake of that ruling, a coalition of state governors and attorneys general lobbied Congress to pass legislation that would give states some measure of control over the gaming activities of tribes located within their boundaries. Tribes opposed any federal legislation that would give states regulatory authority over their affairs.
“Frank had the challenging task of drafting a bill that would give states some measure of authority over tribal gaming without going too far in compromising the tribes’ inherent right to govern and regulate themselves,” McCarthy said. “He managed to balance those interests brilliantly, and as a result, the lives of millions of Indian people all over this country were changed forever.”
“Frank is the architect of Indian gaming as we know it,” McCarthy said, “so it’s only fitting that he should join us as the keynote speaker for this very special 25th anniversary celebration.”
The event will be held at the Intercontinental Hotel St. Paul Riverfront, a property of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, starting with a reception at 6 pm followed by the banquet at 7 pm.. Tickets are still available through the MIGA website.
Stacey Thunder, well-known Native American producer, actress, television host and attorney, will serve as emcee and host for the nearly sold-out MIGA 25th Anniversary Gala Banquet on Thursday, September 15 at the Intercontinental Hotel St. Paul Riverfront.
The former host of “Native Report,” Thunder now hosts and produces her own video series, “Indigenous with Stacey Thunder.” She was recognized as one of the inaugural “50 Faces of Indian Country” by Indian Country Today Media Network, and as one of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development’s “40 Under 40” award winners. She is of Red Lake and Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe descent.
MIGA Executive Director John McCarthy said nearly 400 guests are expected to attend the gala, including Minnesota tribal officials, state and federal dignitaries, national Indian gaming leaders, tribal vendors and suppliers, and community members.
The festivities begin at 6 pm with a social hour followed by dinner at 7 pm. The program highlights include songs by Dakota and Ojibwe drum groups and a short video telling the story of Minnesota’s tribal-state compacts, the first in the nation to be signed under IGRA.
Scheduled speakers include MIGA Chairman Charles Vig, who also chairs the Shakopee Mdewekanton Sioux Community; National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr.; U.S. Representatives Betty McCollum and John Kline, both members of the House Native American Caucus; U.S. Senator Al Franken, a member of the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee, who will address the group via video message; and John McCarthy. A special keynote speaker will be announced later this week.
A limited number of individual seats are still available for purchase on the MIGA website.
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Minnesota Indian tribes will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the signing of the state’s final gaming compacts on Thursday, September 15 with a gala banquet at the Intercontinental Hotel St. Paul Riverfront, a property now owned by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
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