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Here is a round-up of business news from around Indian Country. 

 

Finance

• The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians has hired Daniel D’Arrigo as its new Chief Financial Officer for the San Manuel enterprise. D’Arrigo brings more than two and a half decades of experience in senior finance and capital markets roles in the gaming, leisure and hospitality industry, having previously served as executive vice president, CFO and treasurer at Las Vegas, Nev.-based MGM Resorts International. At MGM, he oversaw the company’s domestic and international financial functions, as well as helped create the company’s real-estate investment trust. “As Chief Financial Officer, Dan will play a critical role in leading the Tribe’s fiscal strategy, growth and development,” San Manuel Band CEO Laurens Vosloo said in a statement. “One of Dan’s greatest strengths is his credibility with the investment community and capital markets. We are very pleased that Dan is joining our team at a time when the Tribe is experiencing tremendous growth and has such great potential for new opportunities.” At the end of 2021, the tribe completed the purchase of Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas Strip for $650 million.

• Native CDFI Network appointed Kristen Wagner as its new programs director, where she will manage programs funded by the trade group and support capacity building for members. Wagner has supported Native-led organizations in fund development, program design and evaluation, and direct delivery of emergency cash assistance and down payment assistance for Native families. As well, Native CDFI Network has hired Ian Record as a part-time consultant. Record’s career spans two decades with the National Congress of American Indians and the Native Nations Institute at the University of Arizona. In the role, Record will advise Native CDFI Network’s development and implementation of various policy advocacy, policy research and strategic communications initiatives.

 

Government

• Alvin Warren, a member of Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as a board member for AmeriCorps, the federal agency for national service and volunteerism. Warren serves as vice president of career pathways and advocacy for the Espanola, N.M.-based LANL Foundation, where he’s responsible for expanding students’ access to academic and technical opportunities through college and career readiness. Warren is a former cabinet secretary of Indian Affairs for the state of New Mexico, and previously served as lieutenant governor of Santa Clara. He also had prior stints at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and The Trust for Public Lands. Additionally, Warren currently is involved in an advisory or board capacity with the Kha’p’o Community School Board, New Mexico Broadband Collective, Native American Relief Fund and the International Funders for Indigenous Peoples.

• The Yurok Tribe hired Taralyn Ipiña, a citizen of the tribe, to serve as its first Chief Operations Officer. In the role, Ipiña will advise and be a liaison to the Yurok Tribal Council, which is overseeing what the tribe describes as “the most prolific growth period” in its history. Ipiña, who formerly served as Tribal Council Operations Director, will assist the tribal council in maintaining government-to-government relations at the tribal, international, federal and state levels. She will also be responsible for ensuring all tribal endeavors are consistent with tribal law and policy. “Taralyn brings to the Chief Operations Officer position a wealth of institutional knowledge regarding the Tribe and its partners. She has established invaluable connections within the greater tribal community as well as the state and federal legislatures,” Yurok Tribe Chairman Joseph James said in a statement. “She is also an extremely motivated administrator, who knows how to get things done. She has already hit the ground running in this new position.”

 

Legal

• Tulsa, Okla. attorney Jason Robertson, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, has been appointed as a magistrate judge by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma. Robertson is the first Cherokee citizen to serve as a U.S. magistrate judge and is the only Native judge in the federal system in Oklahoma​​, according to a report in the Cherokee Phoenix

 

Gaming

• Kewadin Casinos, the gaming venture of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, has lowered its age limit for gaming to 18 years old, starting March 30, at its five casino locations in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The move is allowed under the tribe’s gaming compact with the state. However, the age limit for online casino and sports betting will remain 21 years old. "The decision to now lower the gaming age limit to 18 is a decision that gives all legal adults access to our gaming properties,” Kewadin Casinos CEO Allen Kerridge said in a statement. “Currently, several of Michigan’s tribal casinos allow legal adults to gamble at their casinos and this change will allow us to be consistent and competitive with those casinos. Kewadin Casino has locations in Sault Ste. Marie, St. Ignace, Hessel, Manistique and Christmas. 

• The Seminole Tribe of Florida-owned Hard Rock International announced plans to open a temporary full-service casino in Bristol, Va. — the commonwealth’s first casino — on July 8. The temporary facility will feature 30,000 square feet of gaming space with about 900 slot machines, 20 tables and a sportsbook. The space also includes a display about the future full-scale Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Bristol that is currently under construction. Hard Rock International COO Jon Lucas said the Virginia operations “will be a wonderful addition to the Hard Rock global portfolio of dining, hotel and entertainment properties.”

• Uncasville, Conn.-based Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, an enterprise of the Mohegan Tribe, has appointed veteran attorney Raymond Lin as its Chief Legal Officer to develop the company’s legal and compliance strategy. Lin will report to CEO Ray Pineault and is responsible for advising executive management on legal matters, including commercial transactions, regulatory issues and international and domestic policy-making decisions. He comes to Mohegan Gaming from Los Angeles-based Latham & Watkins LLP, where he served as a partner and co-head of the firm’s private equity practice group.

 

Cannabis

• The state of New Mexico has signed intergovernmental agreements with the Pueblo of Picuris and Pueblo of Pojoaque that will allow both tribes to participate in the state’s recreational cannabis industry. According to a statement from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office, the deals pave the way for both pueblos to create economic opportunities in their communities, while also limiting the exposure to potential federal enforcement. Pueblo of Picuris Gov. Craig Quanchello said the deal “respects the Pueblo’s sovereignty” and “creates a meaningful opportunity for the Pueblo to engage in well-regulated and coordinated legal cannabis markets for the benefit and protection of our community.” Pueblo of Pojoaque Gov. Jenelle Roybal called the agreement a “collaborative effort to maintain a robust regulatory environment for cannabis. Cannabis is an exciting new opportunity to diversify our economic development, and revenues from a Pueblo cannabis enterprise will support tribal governmental programs and the surrounding community.” Described as pro-tribal policies, the intergovernmental agreements call for the state to consult and incorporate tribal concepts and policies related to cannabis, and also provide for ongoing meetings and consultations between state and tribes.

 

Hospitality

• The Morongo Band of Mission Indians’ Morongo Casino Resort & Spa near Palm Springs, Calif. is the home to Pescato, a new seafood restaurant concept by celebrity chef Fabio Viviani. Pescato opened on April 2 and offers freshwater and seafood dishes, as well as an expansive cocktail menu. The menu will feature all line-caught seafood. “We are thrilled to welcome Pescato as the first venue from international restaurateur Fabio Vivani to open at Morongo, which will soon be followed by his incredible Marketplace food hall,” Morongo COO Richard St. Jean said in a statement. “Fabio is one of the world’s greatest names in dining and restaurant innovation, and we are delighted to be collaborating with him to enhance our guest experience at Morongo.” 

Want more news about the $130 billion tribal economy? 

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