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Interior Secretary Deb Haaland proposed two potential appointees to the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) last week.   

One appointment is new, with Haaland proposing Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan member Sharon Avery, while the other is a re-appointment of Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe of South Dakota member Jeannie Hovland. 

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Avery currently serves as an associate general counsel for the NIGC’s Office of General Counsel, while Hovland has recently completed a term as the Commission’s vice-chair, having been appointed in January 2021.

Established in 1988, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act established the three-person National Indian Gaming Commission to support and promote tribal economic development, self-sufficiency, and strong tribal governments through the operation of gaming on Indian lands. The Commission’s Chair is appointed by the President and its two Associate Commissioners are appointed by the Secretary of the Interior. All Commission members serve three-year terms. 

If Avery and Hovland are approved, the commission will still need a chairperson, following the recent departure  of former NIGC chair E. Sequoyah Simermeyer, who joined private betting and entertainment company FanDuel, per prior Tribal Business News reporting. 

"The Biden-Harris administration is committed to ensuring that Tribes have the resources they need to exercise their Tribal sovereignty and support their communities," Haaland said in a statement. "...Today’s appointments to the National Indian Gaming Commission will help ensure we continue to provide resources and support for an industry that remains one of the most significant sources of economic development in Indian Country." 

The commission - accompanied by a notice in the Federal Register - invites public comment on the proposed appointees for 30 days, after which the appointments can be finalized. Per the notice, comments should be sent to the Director for the Office of the Executive Secretariat and Regulatory Affairs at the US Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW., Mail Stop 7328, Washington, DC 20240, or digitally to [email protected] with “NIGC Appointment Comment” in the subject line.