CNIGA Chairman Anthony Miranda Statement on Meeting with Gov. Schwarzenegger

Press Release
For Immediate Release


CNIGA Chairman Anthony Miranda Statement on Meeting with Gov. Schwarzenegger

July 6, 2006

“Member tribal governments of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) met with Gov. Schwarzenegger today. This meeting is the first time that Gov. Schwarzenegger met with our entire general membership. During the meeting the governor listened to the various tribal governments in our organization express their thoughts, concerns and recommendations about the future of economic development in Indian country. Since this meeting was a follow-up to a meeting last month with the CNIGA executive board, we hope that the governor will continue the recent dialogue and work to build relationships with our various member tribes in the future.”

Note: Attached are opening remarks as delivered by Chairman Miranda at today’s meeting.


Representing 68 federally recognized member tribes, CNIGA is the oldest and largest tribal organization in California. CNIGA is dedicated to protecting the sovereign right of Indian tribes to have gaming on their land. 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.

California Nations Indian Gaming Association
Remarks of CNIGA Chairman Anthony Miranda
Meeting with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
July 6, 2006
Sacramento, California

Governor, on behalf of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, we welcome you. We are the largest and the oldest tribal gaming association in the State.

Two months ago, you started a long-overdue dialogue with CNIGA members. We felt then as we do today, that the meeting was positive, and that your intent to start a new direction was genuine. It is in that spirit that we continue our dialogue today. It is our hope that this will be the first of regular and ongoing meetings between you and CNIGA tribal governments.

Governor, you have before you the leaders of 68 sovereign tribal governments. Governments, much like the state, charged with providing for the health, welfare, safety, and infrastructure of their communities.

Thanks to tribal government gaming, we have started the daunting task of rebuilding California’s Indian communities.

Our elders are finally starting to receive the kind of quality healthcare that they deserve. Our children are better equipped to fight predatory illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease. Our young adults are standing in college enrollment lines instead of unemployment lines. Our Native people are realizing the American dream of owning their own home. We are making progress.

But we still have a lot of work ahead of us to rebuild our tribal communities. The average income for American Indians in California, for example, is still well below the national average. As of the 2000 census, it was barely 53% of the national average.

That same year, 26% of families within gaming tribes were still living in poverty. By comparison, the percentage of California and American families in poverty is between 9 and 10% - almost a third of the figure on reservations with gaming. These conditions are unacceptable.

Centuries of poverty and despair cannot be overcome in just a few years. So governor, as you talk about rebuilding California, we urge you: don’t forget about the first Californians.

We also ask you to not ignore the contributions that the tribal gaming industry is making to the economy of California.

We are proud that our tribal governments have created more than 50,000 tax-paying jobs for Californians. Most of our tribal governments constitute the largest employers in their respective regions.

And we could create even more jobs if the barriers to progress were removed.

Our tribal governments will also provide more than $1 billion to California to support non-gaming tribes, local governments, and problem gambling programs.

Throughout California, local governments are already using these revenues to build stronger communities. They are hiring more police and sheriffs deputies; improving fire protection and road conditions, and funding youth programs. All because of tribal government revenues.

Before I finish, governor, let me personally invite you to visit our reservations to learn more about our people and the issues that are of mutual concern.

You see, our tribes are as diverse as the landscape and the people of California. Tribes vary in needs, location, land base, relations with neighboring governments, population, infrastructure capacity, and socioeconomic conditions. This is why each compact should respect the unique circumstances and needs of each Tribe.

I should also tell you that CNIGA is not a negotiating body; we do not negotiate compacts for tribes. The responsibility of negotiating compacts rests solely between individual tribal governments and the State. However, CNIGA can provide a forum for tribal governments to debate and discuss compacts and other issues of mutual concern, and we are continuing to identify common goals relative to tribal-state compacts.

Governor, California tribes expect, and are entitled under law, to timely and good-faith negotiations on gaming compacts.

Finally, governor, we request that you consider establishing a position within your office that can serve as a liaison to California’s tribal governments. The creation of such a position would go a long ways toward permanently opening the lines of communication between tribal governments and your office.

We thank you for listening to us. And we stand ready to work with you to rebuild California and our tribal communities.

With that, I invite the tribal leaders around the table to introduce themselves and to state the name of their Tribe.

Thank you.

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