Respected Indian Country Attorney Rion Ramirez Named CEO of Port Madison Enterprises

Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort, located in Kitsap County, Washington and owned by Port Madison Enterprises, the economic development authority of the Suquamish Tribe.

After a nearly year-long stint as the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation’s general counsel, Rion Ramirez has returned to serve the economic arm of the Suquamish Tribe — this time as its CEO. Ramirez  took the helm at Port Madison Enterprises in Suquamish, Washington, effective November 4th. 

The highly respected attorney has amassed a stacked resume in Indian Country, including leading 27 Tribes in the renegotiation of their gaming compacts. 

Rion Ramirez (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians)

Ramirez is also responsible for negotiating the first-ever Tribal-state marijuana compact in the United States for the Suquamish Tribe, while serving some 15 years as general counsel for Port Madison Enterprises. 

The Suquamish Tribe inked its cannabis compact with Washington state in September 2015, subsequently opening Agate Dreams and chartering Suquamish Evergreen Corporation to open Tokém Cannabis, its cannabis processing plant. Whereas other retailers in Washington aren’t allowed to sell house-branded products, Suquamish Evergreen Corporation secured an exception. Suquamish Evergreen Corporation also sells at multiple state-licensed retail stores across Washington through the state system. 

“Under our Tribal-state compact we can [sell house-branded products],” Windy Anderson, a Suquamish Tribal member and General Manager of Agate Dreams and Tokém Cannabis, explained to Native Business, “so we own a pretty large market in our own apparel, shirts, vape carts, batteries, and those type of things.” 

As general counsel for Port Madison Enterprises, Ramirez additionally played a major role in transferring land into trust status for the Suquamish Tribe.

Ramirez will now leverage his experience as CEO of Port Madison Enterprises, which encompasses several businesses including Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort, the historic Kiana Lodge, three retail outlets, White Horse Golf Course and a property management division.

“We are thrilled to bring back Rion’s twenty-plus years of outstanding Indian Country experience to the Suquamish Tribe,” Leonard Forsman, Chairman of the Suquamish Tribe said. “In his new role, Rion will set a new strategy and direction for our economic development arm, Port Madison Enterprises, and leverage his extensive expertise to help us achieve our public policy and business initiatives.”

Port Madison Enterprises President Greg George added: “Rion was an integral part of our overall growth and development at Port Madison Enterprises, and we know he is going to help us do great things at Port Madison Enterprises.” 

Before becoming the General Counsel for Port Madison Enterprises, Ramirez was an associate at the law firm of Dorsey & Whitney LLP (2001 to 2005) and practiced primarily in the areas of Indian Law, Tribal Finance, Business Law, and Gaming Law. Prior to that Rion was an Associate at Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, P.C. (1997 to 2001).

Rion chairs the Democratic National Committee’s Native American Caucus, and is a member of the DNC’s Executive Committee and National Finance Committee.  In 2013, Rion was appointed by President Obama to serve as the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships under the Obama Administration. 

Rion received his B.A. from the University of Washington (1995), his J.D. from the University Of Washington School of Law (1998), and is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians.

In 2013 Rion was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as a Commissioner on the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships and in 2012 he was co-chair of the Obama Native Outreach Group and a member of the Obama for American National Finance Committee. (Courtesy Rion Ramirez, Twitter)

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