Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community logo
|Regions with significant populations|
|United States ( Minnesota)|
|Related ethnic groups|
|other Mdewakanton people, other Dakota people|
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) (Dakota: Bdemaya?o 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."
As of the 2010 census, 658 people lived on the trust land. 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.
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.
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 Charlie Vig, Vice-Chairman Keith B. Anderson, and Secretary/Treasurer Freedom Brewer.
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 (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.
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."
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.
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.
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. These enterprises have generated revenues that the tribe has invested in other economic development and tribal welfare.
The SMSC Gaming Enterprise includes Little Six Casino and Mystic Lake Casino Hotel. With a total of 4,200 employees, the SMSC, Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, and Little Six Casino combined make up the largest employer in Scott County.
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. 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.
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).
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.
The SMSC has donated nearly $272 million to regional organizations and causes between 1992 and 2013, including more than $29 million in 2012.
In addition to charitable giving, the tribe has made substantial loans to other tribes, such as the Red Lake Nation. The SMSC made a $31 million loan to Red Lake in 2009, a $3 million loan 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.