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Commissioner Biographies

Chairman E. Sequoyah Simermeyer

Chairman E. Sequoyah Simermeyer

E. Sequoyah Simermeyer (Coharie) is the Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission. He was appointed by the President to a three-year term after the United States Senate unanimously confirmed his nomination in November 2019. As Chairman, he is responsible for the federal regulatory agency’s daily operations including its eight regional offices as well as its national and local training and technical assistance efforts. He has the authority to issue civil enforcement fines and temporary closure orders for regulatory violations by gaming operations on Indian lands. As a member of the National Indian Gaming Commission’s three-member commission, he is responsible for regulating and ensuring the integrity of the more than 500 Indian gaming facilities, associated with nearly 250 tribes across 29 states.

Simermeyer first joined the Commission in November 2015 when he was appointed by the Secretary of the Interior to serve as an Associate Commissioner. As an Associate Commissioner, he directed the Agency’s Office of Self-Regulation during which time the Commission unanimously certified a third of all self-regulated tribes. The responsibilities of the Commission’s two Associate Commissioners and its Chairman include hearing appeals, promulgating regulations, and approving an agency budget.

As Chairman, Simermeyer promotes four emphasis areas in the agency’s work. 

Industry Integrity – protecting the valuable tool of Indian gaming that in many communities creates jobs, is the lifeblood for tribal programs, and creates opportunities for tribes to explore and strengthen relationships with neighboring jurisdictions. 

Agency Accountability – meeting the public’s expectation for administrative processes that uphold good governance practices and support efficient and effective decision making to protect tribal assets.

Preparedness – promoting tribes’ capacity to plan for risks to tribal gaming assets including natural disaster threats, the need to modernize and enhance regulatory and gaming operation workforces, or public health and safety emergencies.  

Outreach – cultivating opportunities for outreach to ensure well-informed Indian gaming policy development through diverse relationships, accessible resources, and government-to-government consultation.

Prior to joining the NIGC, Simermeyer advised the Chairman to the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. In that capacity, he helped draft legislative proposals and committee reports, prepared oversight and legislative hearings, and advanced the Committee’s work on priority issues facing Indian country. Simermeyer also served as Deputy Chief of Staff and as a counselor to the Department of the Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs under multiple administrations. Before beginning federal public service in 2007, Simermeyer worked for the National Congress of American Indians, a national intertribal organization focusing on the protection of tribal governments’ rights and status. His work included policy development in the areas of gaming, taxation, and economic development. He also advanced the organization’s state-tribal relations project and its activity before the United Nations and the Organization of American States on issues impacting Indigenous Peoples’ rights.

Simermeyer graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Dartmouth College, N.H., a Masters of Study in Environmental Law from Vermont Law School, V.T., and received his Juris Doctor from Cornell Law School, N.Y.

Vice-Chair Jeannie Hovland

Vice-Chair Jeannie Hovland

Jeannie Hovland (Flandreau Santee Sioux) is Vice-Chair of the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC). As such, she is responsible for regulating and ensuring the integrity of the more than 500 Indian gaming facilities, associated with over 250 tribes across 29 states. She served as the OSR Director from May 2021 through July 2023. Hovland began her three-year term at the agency on January 17, 2021, after being appointed by the Secretary of the Interior.

Before joining NIGC, Hovland served as Commissioner of the Administration for Native Americans providing oversight of a $57 million annual operating budget to promote self-sufficiency for American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. Hovland oversaw discretionary grants that support social and economic development, Native language restoration and revitalization, and environmental regulatory enhancement. Hovland created the Social and Economic Development Strategies for Growing Organizations program, which provides funding to strengthen internal governance structures and build capacity for tribes and tribal organizations. She also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Native American Affairs at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), a $58 billion operating division under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Hovland provided expert and culturally appropriate advice to the Assistant Secretary in formulation of policy, positions, and strategies affecting Native Americans.

Hovland chaired the HHS Secretary’s Intradepartmental Council on Native American Affairs (ICNAA), serving as an advisor to the Secretary, addressing issues of importance to tribal communities through partnerships with all of HHS departments. Hovland helped bring national awareness to the crisis of Missing and Murdered Native American’s through her role on the ICNAA as well as through her participation on the Presidential Taskforce, Operation Lady Justice. Under Hovland’s leadership, as chair of the ACF Native American Affairs Advisory Committee, comprised of ACF leadership and in partnership with the ACF Tribal Advisory Committee, the ACF Missing and Murdered Native Americans - A Public Health Framework for Action was published in October 2020.

In her previous role as Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior, Hovland provided strategic recommendations to the Assistant Secretary on issues related to land leases, access to quality water, land into trust status, and energy and economic development issues.

Hovland’s extensive knowledge and experience on Indian Affairs includes her many years serving Native American communities in South Dakota where she worked for Senator John Thune for nearly 13 years. As Tribal Affairs Advisor, Hovland dedicated most of her time in the communities as she believes in community-driven solutions. During that time, Hovland was able to provide input on important legislation such as the Tribal Law and Order Act and the Code Talkers Recognition Act of 2008.

Past commissioners

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