Former Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle was awarded the 2013 National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) Chairman's Leadership Award at a luncheon held yesterday at the Phoenix Convention Center, Phoenix, Ariz., site of this year’s Indian Gaming 2013Tradeshow & Convention.

Gov. Doyle was recognized for his strong relationships with Wisconsin tribal governments and his deep understanding of tribal sovereignty and self-determination issues. Thanks in part to Doyle’s efforts, 11 of the state’s 28 tribes currently operate gaming facilities.

“This is a man who understands what is good for Indian country is good for all of us,” said NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens during the award presentation. “Governor Doyle worked with tribes and signed compacts that respected tribal sovereignty. We need more leaders who want to build bridges with Indian country, and we respect what he accomplished for the State of Wisconsin.”

In 2005, Doyle signed an executive order titled to create and define the processes by which the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration would work in collaboration with the 11 sovereign Indian Nations seeking to operate gaming facilities. This agreement, and many others worked on by Doyle, acknowledged and supported American Indian sovereignty. He continued to do this throughout his two terms as Governor.

“I am very proud for what we have and accomplished together: a system of consultation that required every one of my cabinet members to visit every single reservation annually; the passage of Indian child welfare legislation; and movement on environmental issues,” Doyle said. “All of this produced much better results. I congratulate all of the tribes who fought to protect their sovereign rights.”