Tribes: Resignation Comes After AIGA “Sits Mute” While Tohono O’odham Nation Defies AIGA’s Long-Held Position Against New Casinos in Metropolitan Phoenix
Sacaton, AZ – On Friday morning, May 6, 2016, leaders of the Gila River Indian Community and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community notified the member Tribes of the Arizona Indian Gaming Association that the Valley’s two largest gaming tribes would immediately resign their membership in AIGA. In a letter hand-delivered and presented to AIGA’s assembled leadership, GRIC and SRP-MIC leaders jointly explained that the gaming association, which has advocated for 18 Arizona tribes since 1994, could no longer fulfill its stated purpose of “speaking on behalf of its member Tribes with one, unified voice … on Indian gaming issues.”
Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community President Delbert Ray said: “After considerable deliberation, the Salt River Indian Community tribal council has voted to withdraw from the Arizona Indian Gaming Association, effective immediately. We take no pleasure in this decision, but believe we must do this because it is in the best interest of our community and for gaming in Arizona.
“In recent days, AIGA’s leadership has failed to speak out on what we consider the most important issue before Arizona’s tribes — the actions of the Tohono O’odham Nation to use deception and fraud to secretly obtain land, hide it in a shell corporation, and develop a new casino in Glendale, breaking the promises to other tribes, state officials and Arizona’s voters. Yet, instead of speaking out against this shameful behavior and standing up for the integrity of the gaming compact, AIGA’s leadership chose instead to remain silent. I’m proud to say that the Salt River Indian Community chooses a different path. We choose to honor the promise we made to Ari
zona voters that there would be no additional casinos in the Phoenix metro area. Therefore, we can no longer be members of AIGA.”
Gila River Indian Community Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis said: “This morning, the Gila River Indian Community formally resigned from the Arizona Indian Gaming Association. This was not a decision made in haste by our Community. This week, the GRIC Tribal Council voted unanimously to withdraw from AIGA because this organization can no longer speak for its 18 member Tribes with ‘one, unified voice’ on critically important tribal gaming issues.
“Unfortunately, AIGA’s unity and effectiveness have been undermined in recent years by the actions of the Tohono O’odham Nation, which secretly developed a metropolitan Phoenix area casino in direct opposition to the official positions adopted and reaffirmed over many years by AIGA and its member Tribes.
“Because AIGA has stood mute on this issue – and because the organization can no longer speak with “one, unified voice” – our Community has reluctantly decided to resign from AIGA. This decision was carefully considered by our Tribal Council to ensure we can continue to work in good conscience to protect the promises made to Arizona’s tribes, residents and elected leaders.”