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.
Minnesota Indian Gaming Association (MIGA) Executive Director John McCarthy said the venue has special significance. “Almost all of the compact negotiating sessions were held in that building,” he said. “Of course, that was long before any of the tribes could ever have dreamed of owning a hotel in downtown St. Paul.”
Mille Lacs Band Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin said the Band is honored to host the milestone event at one of its two St. Paul hotel properties. “I think every tribal leader in the state feels the same way–grateful for the progress we have made, and excited for the opportunity to come together to celebrate our shared success,” she said.
Compact negotiations began in 1988 after Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), which required tribes to enter into agreements with the state in order to conduct casino-style gaming. The compacts for video games of chance were signed by Governor Rudy Perpich in 1989, and the blackjack compacts in 1991 by Governor Arne Carlson shortly after he took office. They were the first tribal-state gaming compacts in the nation.
Charlie Vig, MIGA Chair and Chairman of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, said the banquet will bring together tribal leaders, elected officials, gaming industry colleagues and friends to celebrate the progress that tribal government gaming has made possible, not just for tribes themselves but for the communities where their gaming operations are located.
“Gaming has been the most successful rural development tool in Minnesota history,” Vig said. “Thousands of rural Minnesotans have good jobs and benefits today because of Indian gaming. They are able to pay taxes, buy homes, get health care when they need it, and put their kids through school because they work for tribal casinos. Gaming has been good for the entire state of Minnesota. While there are still many unmet needs in Indian country, we think that the progress of the past 25 years is worth celebrating.”
Invited guests include Senator Al Franken, who serves on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and Senator Amy Klobuchar; Governor Mark Dayton; U.S. Representatives Betty McCollum, John Kline, Tim Walz, Rick Nolan, Collin Peterson and Keith Ellison, all of whom are members of the U.S. House Native American Caucus; and National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. Stacey Thunder, co-host of WDSE-TV’s “Native Report,” will serve as emcee.
Sponsorships, individual tickets and tables for 8 are available through the MIGA website, www.mnindiangamingassoc.com.