U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell appointed E. Sequoyah Simermeyer (Coharie) an associate commissioner of the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) on Monday, November 2, 2015.

NIGC Welcomes a New Member: Sequoyah Simermeyer


After more than five months of operating solely under Jonodev Osceola Chaudhuri, the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) is finally welcoming another member.

E. Sequoyah Simermeyer joined the agency as an associate commissioner on Monday, November 2. The Coharie Tribe of North Carolina member will serve a three-year term.

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The NIGC, which works closely with the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA) and more than 5,400 tribal gaming regulators throughout Indian country, is responsible for overseeing and safeguarding the more than 450 Indian gaming facilities operated in 28 states by 243 of the 566 federally recognized tribes. In 2014, tribal gaming facilities generated $28.5 billion in gross gaming revenue, as compared to $28 billion in 2013 and $27.9 billion in 2012.

Prior to joining the NIGC, Simermeyer most recently completed a one-year assignment with the Majority Staff of the SCIA, where he authored legislative proposals, wrote committee reports and conducted extensive briefings on legal and policy matters related to Indian country.

“I want to personally congratulate Sequoyah Simermeyer on his appointment to the NIGC,” SCIA Chairman John Barrasso said in a statement. “He has been a valuable member of our team at the committee and I know he will do well at the NIGC. Sequoyah’s hard work and expertise have made him a strong advocate for issues essential to Indian Country.” 

Before that role, Simermeyer served as the deputy chief of staff to the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior, focusing on a wide range of national policy issues, including land into trust, tribal governance and economic development. Simermeyer also served as Counselor to the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior, first appointed during the Bush Administration in 2007.

“Sequoyah joins a team of talented and hardworking public servants who are committed to creating greater economic opportunities and upholding the highest ethical standards when it comes to Indian gaming,” Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said. “His wide range of experience and expertise in Indian Affairs makes him a very well qualified person to help the commission oversee these important responsibilities in Indian Country.”

The NIGC normally operates with three members, including a chair and two associate commissioners (one of whom can be designated as vice chair by a majority vote of the commission). The NIGC can operate without issue as long as either the chair or vice chair positions are seated. Also required is that at least two be members of federally recognized tribes and from different political parties.

Beginning in January 2013 with the departure of then-NIGC Vice Chair Steffani Cochran (Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma) at the conclusion of her three-year term, the commission has operated technically understaffed by at least one person. Shortly after Cochran left, former NIGC Chair Tracie Stevens (Tulalip Tribes of Washington)—the first Native to chair the Commission—stepped down in September 2013, following the end of her term in June 2013.

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That's when Chaudhuri (Muskogee Nation) came on board (in September 2013) to fill one of the two vacancies, initially as an associate commissioner; he was named acting chairman the next month. Chaudhuri was officially confirmed as NIGC chair on April 16, 2015.

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When Daniel Little (Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation), who served as an associate commissioner for five years, departed on May 30, 2015, Chaudhuri began operating solo.

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Now Chuadhuri welcomes Simermeyer to join him in leading the NIGC.

“Sequoyah brings extensive Indian policy background to the commission and he will be a great addition to our team,” said Chaudhuri. “I very much look forward to working with him and I know he will be instrumental in keeping the NIGC on its current path of success. ”

Simermeyer was named to the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development’s 40 Under 40 list in 2011 while he was serving as counselor to the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior. This year, a 40 Under 40 award goes to his brother John Simermeyer, legislative analyst at the D.C.-based law firm Rossette, LLP.

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Sequoyah Simermeyer graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, received his master’s degree from Vermont Law School, Vermont, and a law degree from Cornell Law School, New York.

“I am excited to join the NIGC team and become an active member of the Commission,” said Simermeyer. “I look forward to working with Jonodev to perform our regulatory duties and strengthen the dialogue and relationships with all relevant stakeholders in our efforts to ensure regulatory compliance and gaming integrity.”

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