Lifetime Achievement Award honoring Rodney Lewis presented to Gov. Lewis by National Indian Gaming Association

Christopher Lomahquahu

Gila River Indian News


On April 14th Ernie Stevens, Jr., Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association presented a Lifetime Achievement Award  to Gov. Lewis honoring the work of Rodney Blaine Lewis on behalf of the Community and Indian Country.


Due to COVID-19 restrictions on social gatherings and meetings, the award was presented to Gov. Lewis by Stevens in Lewis’ office. The award normally would have been presented during NIGA’s annual Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention. 


The NIGA Lifetime Achievement Award is given to individuals who have promoted a legacy of giving back to Native communities through their work at the local and national level. The award recognizes an individual’s work to strengthen Native peoples through initiatives that support Indian gaming, while promoting tribal sovereignty. 


“He was one of the most prolific lawyers in Indian history but one of the most prolific warriors and gentlemen. Posthumously we honor him for his lifetime of achievement,” said Stevens.  


“He understood the needs of the people to follow through with his responsibilities from beginning to end,” said Gov. Lewis. He said that his father’s professional legacy, which included years of litigation in the federal courts working to gain the Community’s water rights, was the center of his life’s work. 


Stevens reflected on the elder Lewis’ work as a champion among Native people and what the award means about his stature. “The lifetime of achievement was one strength of this work,” said Stevens. “But there are many strengths he held onto that made him a special person to be around and work with.”


Stevens presented Lewis with a plaque, badge of honor pin and blanket, which symbolizes the warrior-like attributes of recipients who work tirelessly for their tribes and Native Americans across the nation.