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PHOENIX, ARIZONA Bernadine Burnette, Vice President of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation was recently selected as Indian Gaming Advocate of the Year by the National Indian Gaming Association. Burnette has been in a leadership role in Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation's government for nearly 18 years, serving as secretary, vice president and president, the longest any female has held a leadership role within the Tribe.
Bernadine Burnette, VP Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation
Burnette was intimately involved in federal and state government negotiations and subsequent congressional approval of the tribe's federal water rights and also worked to restructure the management contract of the bingo hall in 1992. Burnette also was involved in the total revision of the tribal constitution for the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation in 1999.
Prior to holding public office, Burnette worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) for 18 years and also served as acting general manager for Fort McDowell Yavapai Materials. She then decided to take her business experience and apply it to helping her own people.
Raised by her grandmother in a house with a dirt floor and no running water or electricity, Burnette never dreamed of being a politician.
“I only wanted to be a housewife and a mother. Although when I was in boarding school, I was always the leader of our group. I was very athletic, and always captain of our team or leader of the dormitory - that's probably where my leadership started!”
Known as a forthright and assertive leader, Burnette has received many honors. Among them, she was selected as a "Woman of the Year" by former Gov. Jane Hull and was named a Proven Leader - Great Women of Gaming in 2007, an award given by Casino Enterprise Management magazine. In 2009 she was recognized by "Women Empowering Women for Indian Nations" for her dedication and contributions in Indian country, Fort McDowell, and the women in her community.
In addition to her many years of service to her Tribe, Burnette has been active in the Arizona Indian Gaming Association (AIGA) and is currently secretary of NIGA. Her advice for anyone hoping to hold a leadership position:
“Pray about it. Let your heart and mind guide you and the outcome; whatever your decision is, will be a good one. And remember to trust your instincts, they are usually right.”
posted October 17, 2012 7:30 am edt