This West Is OUR West

Story links National Indian Gaming Association to GOP workshop



President Donald Trump, left, and Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Montana). Photo: Greg Gianforte

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

It looks like the National Indian Gaming Association is being drawn into ongoing spat between a new Republican lawmaker and The Guardian newspaper.

The paper posted a story linking NIGA to an upcoming workshop featuring Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Montana), who was charged with assault only a day before a special election in Montana. The victim of the crime, to which Gianforte eventually pleaded guilty, was one of The Guardian's reporters.

But NIGA's only real connection to the National Republican Congressional Committee's February workshop is the location of the event. The organization's Stanley R. Crooks Tribal Leader Conference Center offers prime meeting space on Capitol Hill for anyone who is interested.

Yet the meeting location is described by The Guardian as "surreal" and the story notes that the food for the event will be provided by Chick-fil-A, "the fast food company that made headlines in 2012 for its leadership’s anti-gay stance."


The National Indian Gaming Association debuted the Stanley R. Crooks Tribal Leader Conference Center at its headquarters in Washington, D.C., in June 2016. The center is named for the late Stanley R Crooks, who was a longtime leader of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. Photo: NIGA

Gianforte won the May 2017 election despite being charged with assault. He succeeded Ryan Zinke, who now serves as Secretary of the Interior for President Donald Trump.

Gianforte reached out to tribes during his campaign but Native voters went with the Democratic candidate.

Previously, he came under fire during a run for governor in the state. He made comments that blamed tribal culture for a lack of economic success in Indian Country.

Since joining Congress last June, Gianforte has introduced H.R.3764, a bill to extend federal recognition to the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians. The bill hasn't advanced beyond the committee level.

Gianforte sits on the House Committee on Natural Resources, which has jurisdiction over H.R.3764 and Indian issues. He participated in a hearing on Tuesday to discuss a controversial measure to reduce the size of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. The questions he posed indicate that he supports the goals of H.R.4532, though he is not a co-sponsor at this point.