FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Apr 8, 2022
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – The NAFOA Leadership Awards honor the accomplishments of a tribal leader, tribal executive, and financial deals advancing tribal economies. The 15th Annual Leadership awards were presented at the 40th Annual NAFOA Conference in Seattle, Washington.
Chairman Marshall Pierite of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana received the prestigious Tribal Leader of the Year Award. Guy Barker, Secretary-Treasury of the Quapaw Nation, was honored with the Executive of the Year Award. The San Manuel Gaming and Hospitality Authority (SMGHA) won the Large Deal of the Year Award and Tule River Tribe and the Tule River Gaming Authority won the Small Deal of the Year Award. Finally, Casey Winn Lozar was awarded an Honorary Leadership Award for his committed service to Indian Country as the vice president and director of the Center for Indian Country Development for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
Tribal Leader of the Year Award
NAFOA honored Chairman Marshall Pierite with the Tribal Leader of the Year award for his 30 years of dedicated service and leadership to the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana. Chairman Marshall Pierite has served in every capacity within the Tribal Government – from Tribal Council Member to Director of the Social Service Department. Throughout his elected Tribal leadership, Chairman Pierite has focused on building government operations, budgeting and economic development, and advancing the needs and well-being of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribal community. 2021 was one of the most challenging times for the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe and all of Indian Country, yet Chairman Pierite’s long-term vision and planning turned this past year into one of his most impressive and impactful years as a Tribal leader. While ensuring Tribal citizens had the support and resources needed to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, Chairman Pierite was also responding locally and regionally to natural disasters and other challenges impacting the state of Louisiana. Through his leadership style and inclusive approach to solving complex problems, Chairman Pierite has also opened many doors for the Tribe in the areas of government relations, economic development, and building long-term community prosperity.
Executive of the Year Award
NAFOA presented the 2022 Executive Leadership Award to Guy Barker, Secretary-Treasury of the Quapaw Nation, for his excellent leadership and service. His core platform when he first ran for office was to prioritize the need for improved financing for the Quapaw Nation’s enterprises and deleverage the balance sheet of those businesses. Over a decade ago, the Quapaw Nation found itself in an endless loan with no timeline whatsoever for repayment. Shortly after taking office, Barker immediately engaged with banks to refinance this debt. After a year, the tribe finally achieved favorable terms that will help repay this debt in full. Barker is an advocate for improving tribal finance management and hopes that other tribal nations are also able to seek stable and commercially appropriate funding.
Large Deal of the Year Award
The San Manuel Gaming and Hospitality Authority (SMGHA) was this year’s recipient of the Large Deal of the Year Award for their $650 million acquisition of the Palms Casino Resort. The San Manuel Gaming and Hospitality Authority is a governmental instrumentality of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians (SMBMI). SMGHA’s $650 million acquisition of the Palms Casino Resort represents a significant milestone for San Manuel in furthering its long-term economic diversification strategy in the gaming and hospitality industries. It is also a landmark transaction for both the hospitality and gaming industry and Indian Country, as it represents the first Native American tribe to own and operate a casino resort in Las Vegas.
Small Deal of the Year Award
NAFOA presented the 2022 Small Deal of the Year Award to the Tule River Tribe and the Tule River Gaming Authority for closing a $175 million syndicated bank financing for the construction of the new Eagle Mountain Casino. After decades of hard work with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, State of California, Tulare County, and the City of Porterville, the Tribe won federal and state approval to move the Eagle Mountain Casino to a new site with better access to major roads and highways located within the City of Porterville, California. The new location will provide significant economic benefits, public safety and community improvement, and relieve the existing drought concerns for residents of the reservation. The economic benefits of this move will provide the tribe with approximately 300 new full and part-time jobs all with fair compensation. Additionally, the construction of the project alone will add hundreds of temporary jobs and millions in annual wages.
Honorary Leadership Award
NAFOA is pleased to present Casey Winn Lozar with our annual Honorary Leadership Award. Casey Winn Lozar is an enrolled member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and was born and raised on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana. Mr. Lozar is the vice president and director of the Center for Indian Country Development (CICD) for the Federal Reserve based out of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Before joining the Federal Reserve, he served as an administrator and tribal policy advisor for the State of Montana and directed the State Tribal Economic Development Commission. He has additionally served Indian Country as the former vice president of the American Indian College Fund and Chief Marketing and Development Officer at the Notah Begay III Foundation.
Bettina Gonzalez, Director of Communications
NAFOA launched over four decades ago as the Native American Finance Officers Association to highlight the role of tribal finance in fostering economic opportunities. NAFOA has grown along with tribal economies over the last 30 years to be advocates of sound economic and fiscal policy and developers of innovative training programs in financial management to build the financial and economic skills of the next generation, and convenes tribal leadership, experienced professionals, and economic partners to meet the challenges of economic growth and change. Through its work in growing tribal economies and strengthening tribal finance NAFOA supports the advancement of independent and culturally vibrant American Indian and Alaska Native communities. To learn more about NAFOA, visit the website www.nafoa.org.