The following is a message from Ernie L. Stevens Jr., chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association:
“During this time, many of us celebrate Thanksgiving. While in so many ways we struggle with the history of this day, there are still a lot of memories of quality time spent with our families. And I encourage that.
“Throughout our generations, the ability to share a meal with our loved ones was something that not all of us could afford to do. Today, many of our families are separated by distance, either by what our jobs call us to do or where the Creator wants us to go. The family bond that we share today, I encourage you, is something that we should build stronger more than ever.
“This bond is upheld not just by the concept of gratitude, but preserved by those who do not ask for it. Our United States military have served because of an unwavering sense of honor and call of duty. We will forever be thankful for our brothers and sisters who have served honorably in our Nation’s military. We must remember the 6,639 of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. We must remember them in our Honor songs and our prayers.
“We are thankful for the gaming industry that has allowed us to be providers once again for our communities. People just like you, who are filled with hard work and determination, are continuing to create healthy communities. This industry has provided opportunities for our children and has delivered a quality of life acceptable to our elders.
“While we still have much to do, our journey is not over. We are blessed to see positive outlook on the growth and diversification of our tribal economies. Let us continue to work together.
“From my family to yours, may you enjoy this day bonded with all our relations.”
Ernest L. Stevens Jr. “Yo-ha-hes”
Chairman, National Indian Gaming Association
Ernest L. Stevens, Jr. is the Chairman and national spokesman for the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) in Washington, DC. Stevens is currently serving his sixth two-year term as the organization’s leader. NIGA, established in 1985, is a non-profit organization of 184 Indian Nations with other non-voting associate members representing tribes and businesses engaged in tribal gaming enterprises from around the country. He is an enrolled member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin. He and his wife Cheryl of over 30 years have five children, and 10 grandchildren.