Key Indian Affairs Leader to Keynote MIGA 25th Anniversary Banquet

9 September 2016

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.

screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-7-12-12-pmDucheneaux, 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.