Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers ordered state and U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff Wednesday and Thursday to honor former Oneida Nation Chairman Rick Hill, 66, who served as a trailblazer for Indian gaming and devoted advocate for Tribal sovereignty and self-determination.
Rick Hill, National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) Chairman Emeritus and the former Chairman of the Oneida Nation, has left behind an indelible legacy as a distinguished leader, loyal friend and servant to Indian Country.
NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. responded to Hill’s passing by acknowledging even more roles Hill played in his lifetime, “great friend and brother,” as well as a “…coach, mentor, and one of our time’s finest Tribal leaders.”
His passing is a tremendous loss for our Indian gaming family and all of Indian Country. Rick, along with other Tribal gaming visionaries, paved a bright path for many generations to come. The success of Tribal government gaming is due in great part to his leadership, passion and tireless dedication to serving Indian Country.”
Rick excelled in just about every sport, from lacrosse to basketball and baseball. He was also on the crew team [rowing] at the University of Wisconsin. However, football was his favorite sport. One of his favorite accomplishments was fighting his way to the semi-finals in the local tough man contest where he received a bronze medal.
He taught us many of life’s lessons, he fed, trained and coached us. He gave every resource he had when there were few resources available in our community. He encouraged us to use our commitment to sports and transfer that energy to the responsibilities of life.
The Oneida Nation also released a message paying homage to Hill’s leadership “through some of the most progressive years on our reservation.”
Elected as Chairman of the Oneida Nation in 2008, Hill also served as Chairman from 1990-1993, and previously, served as councilman and Vice-Chairman since 1977.
Hill paved the way to many firsts and milestones for the Tribe. During his first term as Chairman, Oneida signed its first gaming compact with the State of Wisconsin. While serving his first term, Chairman Hill simultaneously served as Chairman of NIGA, leading the Tribal organization to become a nationally recognized voice in Washington, D.C.
After Chairman Hill retired from Oneida politics, he pursued entrepreneurial ventures. He formed The Hill Group, LLC, to consult with various entities to identify economic development projects and partnerships in Indian Country along with equity/debt projects.
Chairman Hill also created RGH Holdings, Inc., to assist and develop real estate both on and off reservations. Hill and RGH Holdings, Inc. are responsible for the development of the first-ever off-reservation Tribal consortium hotel investment located in Washington, D.C. The Residence Inn by Marriot is a 13-story, 233-room, 24,000-square-foot property, where RGH identified and negotiated the $12 million Tribal equity participation in a $42 million extended-stay hotel project.
Most recently, Hill played a vital role in securing the movie deal to tell the Jim Thorpe story through the eyes of Indian Country.
“The Oneida Nation circle of generational leadership will be greatly impacted by the passing of one of our most respected and prominent leaders,” the Tribe said in a statement.