NIGA honors John Kieffer Sovereignity Award recipients

28 September 2017

(PRESS RELEASE) -- The National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) honored John Warren, Chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, and David Z. Bean, Councilmember of the Puyallup Tribes and Acting Vice Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association, with the prestigious John Kieffer Sovereignty Award at the 2017 NIGA Mid-Year Conference and Expo.

Hosted at the Wild Horse Pass Resort & Casino on the Gila River Indian Community, the John Kieffer Sovereignty Award was presented to Warren and Bean during the Sovereignty Banquet, held each year during the NIGA Mid-Year Conference.

Named in honor of the late John Kieffer of the Spokane tribe, recipients of this prestigious award are chosen based on their embodiment of NIGA's mission and purpose. Kieffer was a dedicated member of the NIGA Executive Committee and an advocate for Indian self-determination and tribal sovereignty.

Chairman Stevens reflected on the late John Kieffer, "So many great things have happened in Indian country, but we still have a lot of work to do. There are so many tribes that need us. That's why we need more people like the late John Kieffer. He was a worker who worked hard morning, noon and night. He worked hard for his people, his family and he worked hard for Indian country. We memorialize him and celebrate the memory of his life."

Spokane Tribal Council Members Greg Abrahamson and Danny Kieffer, the son of John Kieffer, spoke about Kieffer's life, his determination and his service to Indian country. Danny Kieffer thanked the NIGA for keeping his father's memory alive. It is an honor for my family. He continued, "It was hard to fill in where my Dad left off, and working with his friends, who have taken me under their wings, have made it possible. It is a dream come true for me to follow in his leadership service."

Chairman Stevens presented the first of the Kieffer awards to Chairman John Warren. Upon accepting the award, Warren said, "I am so humbled because I have always looked up to the leaders who have received this award. I am so grateful to be here. This recognition does not go to my tribe alone or me. You know as Indian people; we do everything as a team. If you stand alone as a tribe you do not get anywhere, nothing happens. To me, this award is about the greatness of our leadership in Indian country."

Warren served as a member-at-large on Council from 2006-2011 and as Council Treasurer since 2011 — a position he resigned from before the official swearing-in ceremony as Chairman.

Born and raised in South Bend, Indiana, the new chairman has served in a variety of capacities with the Pokagon Band through most of his adult life. While on Council prior to federal recognition, he worked with Notre Dame's Law School to create the first draft application that led to the reaffirmation of the Band's sovereignty in 1994. As Treasurer, he directed the implementation of quarterly financial reviews, key performance indicators, and financial policies and procedures for the developing Tribal Government.

Culturally, Warren has traveled the U.S. and Canada educating others about the Pokagon Band and Potawatomi culture. He is a traditional dancer and a singer and drummer with the Ribbon Town Singers.

Chairman Stevens then presented the John Kieffer Award to Puyallup Councilman David Z. Bean, who recognized the women in his life who were instrumental in supporting him and paving his way.

"It is very humbling, and I am honored to receive this award. I would not be the man I am today without many strong Indian Women in my life, starting with my Mom, Gloria Iyetel Bean, and my wife Kellie, my sisters and my many aunties in our community."

Bean shared with the audience a powerful message his wife Kellie shared with him two years ago on his birthday about the teachings she received from Bean's late mother in support of him in his role of tribal leadership. Kellie told Bean, "Your mother prepared me for this time." Bean said his mother told his wife that "she raised me to be a leader, and I was going to be a council member for Puyallup."

He added, "My mother also mentored Kelly as to what to expect in the long days, long hours and the attacks that would come. She also told Kelly what she needed to do to put me back together to send me back out to the community to take care of our people."

Bean concluded, "I am eternally grateful for those lessons of support and that my wife shared this with me. It was a very powerful gift. I am here tonight because of the powerful woman in my life."

David Z. Bean is presently serving his fourth term as an elected member of the Puyallup Tribal Council, the Governing body of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians. The NIGA Board voted him in last spring when the seat of Vice Chair was vacated. Bean is the Northwest Delegate for the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA). Bean is the Co-Chair of the Gaming Committee for the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI). Bean works tirelessly with Puyallup Tribal Staff and NW Tribal Leaders in the areas of Public Safety, Health Care, Education, Natural Resources Protection and Gaming.

As a leader in his own Tribal Community, Bean relies on the teachings of his mother, Gloria Bean, his elders and his education from the University of Puget Sound to guide him in preserving, supporting and protecting the Constitution and bylaws of the Puyallup Tribe and the Constitution of the U.S.

Bean is an active member in his community, spending much of his time with Elders and Youth of the Puyallup tribe. He regularly participates in cultural activities by drumming, singing and dancing with children throughout the community as well as within the NW Canoe Society. Bean promotes healthy, positive and structured lifestyles for members of his community as well as strives to be a strong role model in promoting education.

As a child, Bean fished in his traditional waters with his parents. He continues that tradition today by participating in his tribal fisheries as a diver harvesting geoducks. Before serving on Tribal Council, Bean worked in the private sector as a small business owner/operator for six years.

This year, Warren and Bean joined the ranks of past recipients of this honor, including Kevin Brown, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribe of New York, and Melanie Benjamin, Chief Executive of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe; Kurt Blue Dog of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community; Tracy Burris of the Chickasaw Nation; Chairman Mark Brown of the Mohegan Tribe; Chairwoman Lynn Valbuena of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians; and Anthony R. Pico, former chairman of the Viejas Band of Mission Indians, just to name a few.

Related Links
NIGA 2017 Mid-Year Conference & Expo
Gila River Resorts & Casinos - Wild Horse Pass Details