Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community

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Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community logo.jpg
Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community logo
Total population
658 (2010)[1]
Regions with significant populations
 United States ( Minnesota)
Dakota, English
Related ethnic groups
other Mdewakanton people, other Dakota people

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) (Dakota: Bdemayaṭo Oyate) is a federally recognized, sovereign Indian tribe of Mdewakanton Dakota people, located southwest of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, within parts of the cities of Prior Lake and Shakopee in Scott County, Minnesota. Mdewakanton, pronounced Mid-ah-wah-kah-ton, means "dwellers at the spirit waters."

The tribe owns and operates Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, Little Six Casino, and a number of other enterprises. While Scott County is largely rural, it is located within the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI Metropolitan Statistical Area. This helps it draw from a large population to attract numerous customers for its enterprises.

The SMSC presently owns approximately 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) of land, all of which are located within or near the original 250-acre (1.0 km2) reservation established for the Tribe in the 1880s. Tribal lands are located in Prior Lake and Shakopee, Minnesota.

Jack-O-Pa (Shák'pí/"Six"), an Ojibwa/Dakota chief, from Henry Rowe Schoolcraft's History of the Indian Tribes of North America, illustrated by Seth Eastman ex- commandant of Fort Snelling.

Tribal members are direct lineal descendants of Mdewakanton Dakota people who resided in villages near the banks of the lower Minnesota River. A line of leaders known as Chief Sakpe were spokesmen for their village. The first Sakpe [pronounced Shock-pay], meaning "six," was named by his people as such after his wife bore sextuplets. The second Sakpe, also known as the Eaglehead, was one of twin sons of an Ojibwe chief, who gave him to this band so that they might have a leader, and he was adopted by the first Sakpe as his son. He signed several treaties with the US during the 19th century.

The City of Shakopee later developed near this site and was named for these prominent leaders. The town of Shakopee was named after Sakpe as well.

Tribal government[edit]

The SMSC is governed by the General Council, consisting of all enrolled SMSC members ages 18 and older. The Business Council consists of three members elected every four years by the General Council. The Business Council is responsible for day-to-day operations of the tribe/reservation and implementing General Council decisions. The present Business Council consists of Chairman Keith Anderson, Vice-Chairman Cole Miller, and Secretary/Treasurer Rebecca Crooks-Stratton.[2]


The Dakota people have lived in the Minnesota River Valley for centuries. Historically they fished in the river, gathered wild rice from river's edge beds, as well as nuts and roots, and hunted game.

Chief Sakpe[edit]

Chief Sakpe (Shock-pay), which means "number six" in the Dakota language, was the name of a line of chiefs of a village in this area. The city of Shakopee later developed near this site and was named for the chiefs. Chief Sakpe I (c. 1750 – 1827) received the name "Sakpe" because his wife gave birth to sextuplet boys. Chief Sakpe II (c. 1794 – c. 1862) signed the 1851 Treaties with the United States on behalf of the Dakota at Traverse Des Sioux and Mendota; he traveled to Washington, DC to sign the 1858 Treaty on behalf of the Dakota.[3]

Chief Sakpe III (1811–1865) was a leader during the US-Dakota War of 1862. When the Dakota people were exiled after the war, Sakpe fled to Canada. Later he was turned over to U.S. forces. Reportedly as he was preparing to be hanged on November 11, 1865, he heard a train whistle and said, "As the white man comes in, the Indian goes out."[4]

US-Dakota War of 1862[edit]

When European-American settlers migrated into their territory in the 1800s, the Dakota people did not have a concept of permanent and exclusive ownership of land. Their conception of land use was that different peoples might live on it and share its resources. The era of settlement in Minnesota was accompanied by the United States forcing the Dakota to cede land forever, diminishing their homeland and their ability to continue their traditional way of life. The new settlers disrupted hunting grounds and restricted fishing on "their" lands. Unable to hunt, fish and gather resources adequately, the Dakota were forced to depend increasingly on the federal government's promises and provisions, often late or spoiled. The federal government's failure to deliver on these promises brought near-starvation and growing anger among the Dakota. Their resentment broke out in the US-Dakota War of 1862.[5]

Mass execution and hardship[edit]

The US Army suppressed and defeated the Dakota warriors. It conducted the largest mass execution in United States history, executing by hanging 38 Dakota men in Mankato, Minnesota, on December 26, 1862. The remaining Dakota were forced to walk more than 100 miles to Fort Snelling, where they were held in a concentration camp through the winter. In 1863 Congress rescinded all treaties with the Dakota and ordered their removal from Minnesota.

Finally, in 1886, Congress established the Shakopee Mdewakanton Reservation, Prairie Island Indian Community Reservation, Upper Sioux Indian Reservation, and Lower Sioux Indian Reservation for the Dakota who never left Minnesota. But for the next century, life for the Dakota people was one of poverty and hardship.[6]

Mid-20th century to present: Revitalization[edit]

In 1969 the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community gained federal recognition as a tribe. They created a government and developed an economic system. In 1982 the tribe opened Little Six Bingo Palace (later Little Six Casino) after Indian gaming was allowed on reservation lands in states that had gaming laws. In 1992 it opened the Mystic Lake Casino Hotel.[6] These enterprises have generated revenues that the tribe has invested in other economic development, tribal welfare, and philanthropy.[7]

SMSC Gaming enterprise[edit]

The SMSC Gaming Enterprise includes Little Six Casino and Mystic Lake Casino Hotel. With a total of 4,100 employees,[8] the SMSC, Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, and Little Six Casino combined make up the largest employer in Scott County.[9]

On June 4, 2012, the SMSC and Canterbury Park, a horse racing track, announced a ten-year cooperative marketing agreement. The agreement called for the SMSC Gaming Enterprise to create the Mystic Lake Purse Enhancement Fund, which would increase horse racing purses at Canterbury Park by $75 million over the ten years. Edward Stevenson, CEO of the SMSC Gaming Enterprise announced that the agreement would also create new joint marketing opportunities between Canterbury Park and Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, with the Park receiving $8.5 million in payments for these marketing ventures over the course of the agreement. The Mystic Lake Derby was established in 2012 as a new purse race, and the Mystic Lake Mile in 2013. Prior to the start of the 2013 race season, a new tote board was erected at the racetrack.[10]

Non-gaming enterprises[edit]

The SMSC also has retail and other business enterprises, including Dakota Mall, Dakotah Meadows Mini Storage, Dakotah Meadows RV Park, Dakotah! Ice Center, Dakotah! Sport and Fitness, Wozupi Tribal Gardens, Mazopiya (natural food market), Mystic Lake Store at Mall of America in Bloomington, Playworks, Playworks LINK Event Center, Shakopee Dakota Convenience Stores #1 and #2, SMSC Organics Recycling Facility, SMSC Water Bottling Facility, and The Meadows at Mystic Lake (golf course).

The tribe also owns the JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America, a 15-level luxury hotel that opened in 2015.[11]

Mystic Lake Center is the newest addition to Mystic Lake Casino Hotel. The 70,000-square-foot meeting and event space accommodates groups of all sizes for a range of meetings and events – from business meetings to holiday parties to conferences and expos to weddings. Mystic Lake Center features a nine-story, 180-room hotel tower; three large ballrooms with flexible layouts; several smaller meeting rooms and an executive conference room; and plenty of natural light and stunning golf course views.[12]

Charitable giving and loans[edit]

Guided by the Dakota tradition of helpfulness, the SMSC is committed to sharing its resources.[13] The tribe has donated more than $350 million to organizations and causes, and is the single-largest philanthropic benefactor for Indian Country nationally.[14]

In 2015, the SMSC launched Seeds of Native Health, a five-year, $11 million campaign that represents the single-largest coordinated philanthropic effort in American history focused on improving Native American nutrition.[15]

Launched in 2019, the tribe’s latest charitable campaign is Understand Native Minnesota, a three-year, $5 million strategic philanthropic initiative to improve the Native American narrative in Minnesota schools.[16]

In addition to charitable giving, the tribe has provided $500 million in economic development loans to fellow tribes.[17] The SMSC made a $31 million loan to Red Lake Nation in 2010, and a $27 million loan in 2013, the latter so that the Red Lake Tribe could construct and operate a gaming casino to generate revenues.[18]

Notable tribal members[edit]


  2. ^ "Our Government". Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  3. ^ "Minnesota Treaty", US-Dakota War website, Retrieved 2013-10-29.
  4. ^ [1], US-Dakota War; Retrieved 2013-10-29.
  5. ^ "About", US-Dakota War website; Retrieved 2013-10-29.
  6. ^ a b "Shakopee Dakota", official website; Retrieved 2013-10-29.
  7. ^ Brodey, Sam (November 20, 2017). "'Before, we were invisible:' How Minnesota's most prosperous Indian tribe became a powerhouse in Washington". MinnPost. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  8. ^ "Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Celebrates 40 Years as a Federally Recognized Indian Tribe" (PDF). Indian Gaming. January 2009.
  9. ^ "About", City of Prior Lake website; Retrieved 2013-10-16.
  10. ^ [2], Shakopee Dakota website; Retrieved 2014-02-12.
  11. ^ Halter, Nick (November 23, 2015). "New Mall of America JW Marriott hotel brings luxury to Bloomington". Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  12. ^ "Mystic Lake Center – Opening January 2018". Retrieved 2017-10-13.
  13. ^ "The Dakota Value of Sharing". Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  14. ^ "Shakopee Tribe donates more than $5 million to Indian Country". Indianz. December 5, 2018. Retrieved February 16, 2019.
  15. ^ "Seeds of Native Health website". January 2020. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  16. ^ "Shakopee Sioux announce $5 million campaign to boost Indian education in Minnesota schools". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2020-04-06.
  17. ^ Farber, Zach (June 5, 2013). "Shakopee Mdewakanton Gives $10 Million to 18 Tribes". Patch. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  18. ^ "Red Lake Nation to receive $27 million Shakopee Mdewakanton loan for casino". Red Lake Nation News. July 11, 2013. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
  19. ^ "Shakopee tribe elects Anderson as chairman to replace Vig". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2020-04-06.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 44°45′43″N 93°27′20″W / 44.76194°N 93.45556°W / 44.76194; -93.45556