Tag Archives: construction in indian country

MEETING OF THE MINDS: Jeff Ehret interviews CIIC founders Jefferson Begay and Urban L. Giff during the 2013 conference opening.

Building the bridge: CIIC Conference sets sights on university program

Entering its 11th year, Arizona State University’s Construction in Indian Country conference is a means to recruit prospective Native American construction students, educate local tribes and foster industry connections. It is also a key contributor to the CIIC endowment, which has raised $400,000 and put 14 students through the construction management program at ASU. It is currently supporting nine undergraduates, including Shane Cody who came to the program after working in the industry as a field laborer.

“I really enjoyed my working experience in the field, but I knew that obtaining a management position would require me to obtain a construction management degree from a university,” Cody says. Cody contacted the CIIC through the suggestion of his ASU adviser and has since landed two internships with DPR Construction offices.

Program chair Allan Chasey, at the Del E. Webb School of Construction, is proud of what the CIIC conference and endowment have accomplished, but when he stepped into his current role at the school a year ago, he says he saw more to the CIIC culture; he saw a full academically involved program. The first step toward making the conference into a year-round program was replacing an events coordinator with a program manager. The department landed Jerome Clark, who had extensive experience with the Intertribal Council of Arizona and an understanding of Chasey’s vision.

“The question we find ourselves asking more often is nation-building for tribes — what does it take for a tribe to build up their nations. build up its hospitals, roads, etc.,” Clark says.

The CIIC’s updated vision includes more conversations with tribes, research into tribal construction laws and potentially building a clearing house. But first, CIIC must address its 2014 theme, “Bridging Our Communities – Building for Our Futures,” — the key to its future as a program.

The Conference

11TH ANNUAL CONSTRUCTION IN INDIAN COUNTRY
April 28 to 30
Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino
5040 Wild Horse Pass Blvd., Chandler
http://ciic.construction.asu.edu

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Real Estate and Construction in Indian Country: West Valley Casino Challenged — Again

 

In the 1970s and 1980s, some flooding caused by the federal Painted Rock Dam covered some lands owned by the Tohono O’odham Nation in Southern Arizona. As a response, the Gila Bend Indian Reservation Lands Replacement Act was signed into law in 1986.

Under the Land Act, the T.O. Nation surrendered title to the flood-prone lands in exchange for $30M and the ability to acquire land in unincorporated portions of Maricopa, Pima, or Pinal counties. The Land Act also authorized the Secretary of the Interior to take the acquired lands into trust and treat such lands as the T.O. Nation’s Indian Reservation.

In 1988, the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was enacted. Among other things, this Gaming Act authorized the governors of each state to negotiate gaming compacts with the Indian Tribes in their respective state. A handful of Arizona tribes negotiated compacts with the State of Arizona that began in 1993 and were set to expire in 2003.

Foreseeing the expiration of these initial gaming compacts, negotiations between a majority of Arizona Tribes and the State of Arizona resulted in a standard gaming compact in 2002. The T.O. Nation, the Gila River Indian Community, and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community were three of the Tribes that participated in these negotiations with the State.

And in the fall of 2002, Arizona voters authorized the governor to execute the standard gaming compact with the various Tribes. The compacts determine the Tribes’ abilities to put casinos on their reservation lands.

Meanwhile, the T.O. Nation had begun the process of acquiring land under the Land Act. In 2003, acting through its wholly-owned corporation, Rainier Resources, Inc., the T.O. Nation acquired a parcel of unincorporated land at 91st and Northern avenues, adjacent to Glendale. The Secretary of the Interior ultimately took the land into trust as part of the T.O. Nation’s Indian Reservation.

This land acquisition and the Secretary’s “land into trust” decision did not sit well with some of the Tribes in Metro Phoenix. The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and the Gila River Indian Community, along with the State of Arizona, challenged the T.O. Nation in federal court.

In 2012, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Secretary of the Interior’s “land into trust” decision. In November of 2012, the T.O. Nation filed a motion for summary judgment for the rest of the case.

But in January of 2013, apparently still eager to prevent the T.O. Nation from locating a casino on the property near Glendale, the plaintiffs filed a cross motion. Among other things, the plaintiffs allege that a casino on the Glendale property would violate the 2002 gaming compact and that the T.O. Nation violated the Nation’s duty of good faith and fair dealing by negotiating the 2002 gaming compact without informing the other Tribes and the State about its intent to place a casino near Glendale.

Though the T.O. Nation has certainly had a string of wins in this case, the case is not yet over. If the T.O. Nation ultimately succeeds, then Indian Gaming may become a reality in the west Phoenix metro area. Wagers, anyone?

The case is The State of Arizona, et al., v. The Tohono O’Odham Nation, docketed at Case No. 2:11-cv-296-DGC.

This article is intended for general information only. It should not be construed as legal advice with respect to any particular situation. Readers should not act upon information contained in this article without first consulting their lawyer.

rsz_roger_owersRoger S. Owers is the Managing Partner of the Kaibab Law Offices of Roger S. Owers, LLC. He provides legal representation in the areas of design law, construction law, and Indian law. Roger holds a Ph.D. in civil engineering, is a registered professional civil engineer, and is a licensed attorney. He can be reached via e-mail at rogerowers@kaibablaw.com or kaibablaw.com.

 

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Workshop Helps Industry Understand Nuances of Working in Indian Country

 

With 22 recognized tribes in Arizona, each with their own governance, leadership and protocols, working within the American Indian community and in Indian country has become an enviable skill in the business world.

Kitchell has found through first-hand experience that the best way to approach tribal work is by aligning with those who understand the culture, and accepting that patience, strong listening skills and non-verbal cues are critical to the American Indian way of doing business.

These were just a few of the messages shared with construction industry representatives at Kitchell’s Cultural Awareness Workshop, an annual event that brings together Kitchell employees, subcontractors and partners to help everyone better understand the nuances involved in working with tribal communities, regardless of the type of the vocation or project.

“I learned only through personal experience that sitting respectfully and listening at their pace was a skill I had not mastered,” said Kitchell Native American Division Business Development Manager Kari McCormick.

“We’re so used to filling space with words – and that was something I had to adjust when working with the Navajo Nation – respectfully listening, and waiting for them to finish sharing their thoughts.”

This insight and others were shared by Kitchell and the nationally known experts that the company engaged to facilitate the workshop – Jeff Thompson, who has spent 32 years working in Indian Country, and Robert J. Miller, a professor from Lewis & Clark Law School who has practiced American Indian law since 1993.

Unlike the direct communications approach favored by many of today’s successful business leaders, those operating in Indian Country rarely ask direct questions as a matter of course, especially when anticipating a negative answers. By mastering listening skills, the experts shared, you should understand their point of view and anticipate outcomes.

“Allow time to process and let the story evolve,” Thompson said. “No one wants to hear negative answers.”

Another tip that seems to be universally accepted in any business situation: use humor. “Someone in a management or supervisory role should use humor, preferably self-deprecating humor, as a leveler. It’s a very powerful tool.”

 

Editor's Letter: NAIOP, Indian Country and More - AZRE Magazine September/October 2011

Editor's Letter: NAIOP Arizona, Indian Country And More

Editor’s Letter: NAIOP Arizona, Indian Country And More

Forecasting the commercial real estate market in Arizona is a lot like forecasting the weather in Arizona – you never know what to expect.

The September/October issue of AZRE Magazine features our annual NAIOP supplement and its always-compelling roundtable discussion. Our experts say the commercial real estate industry is recovering, but that Arizona needs more job and population growth.

By the way, NAIOP Arizona members came through in a big way this year, submitting 25 projects. I think that says something for the office and industrial markets in Arizona.

This year we also included a look at what new legal issues the industry might be dealing with in 2012.

Our annual look at Construction in Indian Country explores the evolution of tribal economic development in Arizona.

Tribes are moving beyond building casinos and acquiring land, distressed properties and investing in other economic development instruments.AZRE September/October 2011 Cover

Building Green examines the impact of a $20M Sustainable Communities Development Fund for the three Valley cities on the light rail – Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa.

Finally, our Arizona Centennial series takes a look at the biggest and best commercial buildings in Arizona the past 100 years.

Peter Madrid
Editor
peter.madrid@azbigmedia.com
Twitter: @Peter_Madrid