Nathan Small, chairman the Idaho-based Shoshone-Bannock Tribe, was awarded the Tim Wapato Sovereign Warrior Award during the Cultural Night celebration at the Indian Gaming 2013Tradeshow and Convention, currently taking place at the Phoenix Convention Center, Phoenix, Ariz.

The award, which was named after the late Tim Wapato, the National Indian Gaming Association’s first executive director, is bestowed to the tribal executive who best exhibits leadership to preserve culture and economic sustainability. The Sovereign Warrior Award was presented to Small by Wapato’s widow, Gay Kingman-Wapato.

“He has been fighting for his people, and for tribes throughout this leadership career,” Kingman-Wapato said. “Nathan was NIGA's first treasurer. He has continued the fight for sovereignty, and most recently, has lead the effort to clean up the Superfund site on the Fort Hall Reservation in Idaho, which has severely contaminated the Shoshone Bannock land.”

Chairman Small has served on the seven-member Fort Hall Business Council for a total of six years. In June of 2011, he was re-elected for a second term as chairman; prior to that, he served as vice-chairman. Chairman Small was instrumental in opening the Shoshone- Bannock Tribes’ first gaming operation and served as tribal gaming manager from 1990 to 1998. He has also been a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Bar Association since 1980, and has held positions as both a prosecutor and public defender in Tribal Court.

“Thank you for this award. It is quite an honor and even though Tim Wapato is not here, I know there are people who are continuing to fight for sovereignty,” Chairman Small said. “We have to fight and fight and fight. That is who we are, and that is what we will continue to do.”

“Chairman Small reminds us that by being resilient and steadfast, you can achieve much for your community,” added Ernie Stevens Jr., NIGA chairman. “His energy should serve as a reminder that there is no deadline for dedication, and he has proven that again and again for his community and for Indian country.”