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Mdewakanton / Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community

The Minnesota and Mississippi River Valleys have been home to the Dakota for thousands of years. The existence of our ancestors was sustained by their relationship with the earth and their surroundings. For generations, Dakota families fished from the rivers, gathered rice from area lakes, hunted game on the prairies and in the river valley woodlands, and established villages along the riverbanks and surrounding lakes. Our ancestors lived in harmony with the world around them, and Dakota culture flourished. In the 1640s, the first recorded non-Indian contact with the Dakota took place. For the next 200 years, our ancestors tolerated the presence and ever increasing numbers of non-Indians encroaching on their homelands.
Beginning in 1805, a series of treaties forced on the Dakota Nation would take away their homeland, destroy their ability to provide for themselves, and create an increasing reliance upon the U.S. government's promises for payments and goods. For the next several decades, missionaries, fur traders, Indian agents, and the U.S. government all worked first to change the culture of the Dakota and later to eradicate the Dakota Nation. Finally, in 1862, the Dakota could no longer allow this mistreatment. Our ancestors battled for their homelands, their way of life, their culture. The events of 1862 ended with the largest mass execution in United States history when 38 Dakota were hanged at Mankato.
As a result of the Dakota boldness in standing up for their rights, the United States Congress abrogated all treaties with our ancestors and decided that the Dakota had to be removed from Minnesota. The majority of Dakota were sent on barges to Crow Creek, South Dakota, in 1863, and eventually removed to Santee, Nebraska. Other Dakota traveled to Canada and settled there. Some Dakota never left their homeland. Those Dakota who remained in Minnesota spent many impoverished years attempting to gain support and help from the federal government. Generations of our ancestors experienced U.S. government control, Indian boarding schools, and little opportunity for success. Strong Dakota communities eventually developed at Morton, Prairie Island, Granite Falls, and Shakopee.
In 1969, after years of persistence in dealing with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community was finally given federal recognition and began the difficult process of creating a government and economic system that would support Community members. The struggle for economic security was difficult, and there were many obstacles.
Life on the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community was like that on many other reservations. Deficient government policies had left us with dirt roads, inadequate housing, and few prospects for a better future for our children. Health care, educational opportunities, and steady employment on the reservation seemed only to be a dream. During the early 1970s, Community members depended on food subsidies, and low paying jobs were the norm. But Mdewakanton Dakota families did not give up. Through a number of tribal initiatives, members created a health care program, a childcare facility, and a home improvement program.
Then in 1982, life changed dramatically. Tribal Chairman Norman Crooks (father of current Chairman Stanley Crooks) and other Community members heard about the success of high-stakes bingo in Florida. They saw the opportunity and opened the Little Six Bingo Palace on October 16, 1982. The future began to look brighter. Busloads of people began arriving, and gaming was a success like no other. Tribal government services grew, jobs were created, and opportunities for the tribe and its members increased. Then in 1984 video slots were added at Little Six Casino. Mystic Lake Casino followed in 1992. During the 1990s the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community continued its transformation from an economically distressed reservation to one of the most economically successful Indian tribes in the United States. In this new era of self-sufficiency, the Community was able to use its inherent sovereign rights and growing economy to purchase additional lands and to radically improve its economic base.
To protect tribal interests, diversification was made a priority, and enterprises were developed which provide services to the larger community. Dakotah! Sport and Fitness enabled thousands of local residents to enjoy increased good health by using its facilities. The Shakopee Dakota Convenience Store (SDCS) provides fuel, groceries, and a car wash. The Dakota Mall houses enterprises like the SDCS, a travel agency, and a credit union. Playworks is a one-of-a kind facility for families and children. Dakotah Meadows RV Park has 119 paved, pull-through RV sites with electric, water, and sewer hook ups and six tipis for overnight rental. A hotel was added at Mystic Lake Casino as an added service for guests and to help make Mystic Lake Casino a destination resort. Today, Mystic Lake Casino Hotel is known as one of the largest and most successful Indian-owned casinos in the United States and is one of the largest tourist attractions in the Upper Midwest.
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community continues its infrastructure improvements and growth in the new century. Since 2000 the Community has dedicated the Tiowakan Spiritual Center and Community Cemetery, completed second and third hotel towers, opened a storage and archival facility, completed the Playworks LINK Event Center, opened The Buffet at Mystic Lake, opened a Mystic Lake retail store at The Mall of America, and completed Phase III and Phase IV at Dakotah Meadows RV Park. The Community has completed construction of new parking ramps, built Dakotah Parkway, and opened a new championship golf course, The Meadows at Mystic Lake. In 2001 the SMSC developed a professional fire department called Mdewakanton Emergency Services. The department now responds to an average of 200 calls a month and provides mutual aid to area departments upon request. Ambulance service was added in 2004, and monthly transports average 60.
The success of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community's enterprises has allowed the Community to create and provide numerous education, health, and social service programs for Community members, staff, and Native Americans living in Scott County.
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is proud to be a leader in sharing its prosperity with other Tribes and Communities by making charitable donations. Over the past several years the SMSC has donated more than $115 million to charitable organizations and Indian Tribes, including a gift of $12.5 million to the University of Minnesota for a new football stadium and for an endowment for scholarships in 2007.
The SMSC also provides much needed employment opportunities for more than 4,140 Indian and non-Indian people from the surrounding area. Millions of dollars are pumped into the area’s economy each year as a result of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s successful business enterprises.
To honor our ancestors and continue our Dakota traditions, the Community engages in a variety of cultural activities in addition to our annual Wacipi. The Community works to preserve cultural sites. Children and adults are learning the Dakota Language, song, and dance. The SMSC story is being told to a wider audience through the distribution of videos, commercials, informational and town hall meetings, the internet, and kiosks.
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Dakota are proud of our accomplishments, and we honor our ancestors, for it is because of their strong sense of survival and pride in being a Dakota, that we have the ability to prosper today.
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