Harvey selected for Indian Gaming Association’s Sovereignty Award
By Danielle Harrison
Smoke Signals editor
MASHANTUCKET, CONN. – Tribal Council member Denise Harvey was honored with a sovereignty award during the Indian Gaming Association’s Mid-Year Conference & Expo in Mashantucket, Conn.
The John Kieffer Sovereignty Award was given out Wednesday, Sept. 13, during the awards luncheon. It is named in honor of the late John Kieffer (Spokane Tribe), who was a member of the IGA Executive Committee and advocated for self-determination and Tribal sovereignty.
Award recipients are selected based on their fulfillment of the association’s mission, which is to “protect and preserve the general welfare of Tribes.”
Harvey was presented with a plaque and a blanket by IGA Chairman Ernie Stevens Jr. and Spokane Tribal Business Council Vice Chairman Danny Kieffer, who is the son of John Kieffer. Afterward, Tribal drummers performed a warrior song.
“This is quite the honor and surprise,” Harvey said. “I will say as Tribal leaders, we all wear many (advocacy) hats. We can be engaged in our Indian gaming but there are so many other things we have to do as leaders, from the Indian Child Welfare Act to Missing and Murdered Indigenous People to Housing and Urban Development, the list goes on and on. We all have a huge responsibility … I try to be a very responsible Tribal Council person and realize there is a lot of responsibility to our communities and all Indian people. I feel lucky to be able to do a lot of the national work with IGA and the Tribal HUD Advisory Committee. … I do this for all of Indian County. … I admire and appreciate all of you and you gotta show up. We all need to be here and work together. I’m happy to be a part of this list now.”
While announcing the award, Stevens said that Harvey is someone who is dedicated in her advocacy for Native gaming sovereignty.
“Denise is always there,” he said. “She is on our board of directors, her Tribal Council and a major part of our team. We’ve been fighting the fight together and that’s why we’ve selected her for the John Kieffer Sovereignty Award.”
IGA works with the federal, state and Tribal governments to develop policies and practices, and to provide technical assistance and advocacy on gaming-related issues, while maintaining and protecting Tribal sovereignty, according to its mission statement.
Harvey has served as a Pacific Northwest Tribal delegate to the commission since 2018, and is the first Grand Ronde Tribal member to be appointed to the board. She previously served on the Grand Ronde Gaming Commission as a member and chair from March 2004 through September 2013.
Harvey started working for the Tribe in 2002 in the Human Resources Department as the Mentorship and Workforce Development coordinator, a position she held until 2010. She has been a Tribal Council member since 2013.
In November 2022, Harvey was selected as one of 15 Tribal leaders appointed to the first-ever Tribal Intergovernmental Advisory Committee for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.