The following are remarks from Ernie Stevens Jr., chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association following the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14:
“Angered. Confused. These are the two words that would describe me as I heard about the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. I was angered because it was so senseless and heartless. I was also confused because I couldn't believe that places as safe as a school can so quickly become a war zone.
“I have been given a great opportunity to travel this country and talk about the success stories of our Native people and of how strong, innovative and full of hope we are. It has been a blessing. And I'm thankful to share that good news. We are strong and tenacious.
“However, [Friday] reminded me of how delicate our lives are. I'm a man who is married to the love of his life and has been blessed with five children who have given us 10 grandchildren. My grandson just turned five. And we expect our eleventh grandchild this holiday season. The children that were taken from us in Connecticut were around the same age as my grandchildren and I will hold them just a little bit closer to me today as our nation comes together to mourn the young students who passed away.
“As parents, grandparents, teachers, brothers, sisters, and elders we must always support and encourage our children so they have the chance to experience the treasures of life. The journey of life is found in the education of our challenges and accomplishments, successes and hardships.
“Those experiences are one thing… and this tragedy is another. Hold your children close cherish and love them each and every day of their lives.”