The largest regional tribal gaming association in the United States just got even bigger. Joining the California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) this week are the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians and the Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians, increasing CNIGA’s membership to 50 tribes.
These additions continue a meteoric growth spurt for the organization, growing from 34 tribes in late-2019. Forty-four CNIGA tribes are gaming tribes, giving the organization nearly 70% of all gaming tribes in California.
This growth has occurred under the leadership of CNIGA Chairman James Siva, who ascended to his position at the end of 2019.
“I am pleased to welcome Paskenta and Big Valley to the CNIGA family of tribes,” Siva said. “Their additions strengthen our voice on gaming and sovereignty issues in California and helps ensure that tribal voices will be heard in the halls of power.”
CNIGA Vice-Chairman Mike Lopez credits Chairman Siva’s leadership for the growth in membership.
“Chairman Siva has created a welcoming environment and has created a respectful space for tribes to express their views, even when they conflict with the majority,” Lopez said. “He makes sure all voices are heard. I think tribes recognize this and that is why so many have joined or re-joined the organization.”
Also, this week, the CNIGA associate membership elected Chris Creasey to the associate member representative position on the CNIGA Executive Committee, succeeding Russell Witt. Creasey serves as Director at Tutor Perini Building Corporation, which has an extensive resume in Indian Country and has long been an active associate member of CNIGA.
“I am honored to have been elected to this position,” Creasey said. “My predecessor set the gold standard on what this position should be as the associate membership saw major growth of the program during his tenure. I am very determined to continue in his footsteps with a singular purpose of continuing this growth.”
The associate member representative is a non-voting member of the executive board, who is directly elected by the CNIGA associate membership, comprised of business and professional groups who support the organization. Like the organization overall, it has seen a major increase in membership in recent years.
CNIGA was founded in 1988 and is comprised solely of federally-recognized tribal governments and associate members who are dedicated to the tribal government gaming industry. CNIGA is dedicated to the purpose of preserving and protecting Indian gaming on federally-recognized Indian lands. It acts as a planning and coordinating agency for legislative, policy, legal and communications efforts on behalf of its members and serves as an industry forum for information and resources.