Thursday, August 30, 2012


An estimated 1500 relatives, friends, tribal leaders and other dignitaries from across the nation gathered yesterday (Wednesday, August 29) at the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) to honor the memory of beloved Tribal Chairman Stanley R. Crooks, who died Saturday, August 25.  

The funeral service at Tiowakan Spiritual Center was preceded by a traditional all night vigil and prayer service, on Tuesday night, during which dozens of relatives and friends spoke about the leader all described as quiet, unassuming, generous, devoted to his family, and dedicated to the service of his community and all Native people.

Eulogists at the funeral service included Charlie Vig, who now succeeds Crooks as SMSC Chairman; Keith Anderson, SMSC Vice Chairman; Ernie Stevens, Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA); Glynn Crooks, former SMSC Vice Chairman and cousin to Chairman Crooks; and Cecelia Firethunder, former President of the Oglala Sioux Nation. Reverend Marlene Whiterabbit Helgemo officiated.

Attending were representatives from more than two dozen tribal nations, including Bad River, Bois Forte, Crow Creek, Flandreau Santee, Fond du Lac, Grand Portage, Kickapoo, Leech Lake, Lower Sioux, Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara (Three Affiliated), Mille Lacs, Oglala Sioux (Pine Ridge), Omaha of Nebraska, Oneida of New York, Oneida of Wisconsin, Prairie Island, Red Cliff, Red Lake, Rosebud Sioux, Sisseton-Wahpeton, Spirit Lake, Standing Rock, Stockbridge-Munsee, Upper Sioux Community, and White Earth.  

Also attending were state and federal dignitaries, including Governor Mark Dayton; U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken; U.S. Representatives Betty McCollum and John Kline; and numerous Minnesota legislators, city and county officials. 

The printed funeral program included a statement from the Crooks family that read, “We, the family of Stanley R. Crooks, wish to express our deepest appreciation and gratitude to all the friends and relatives that have helped out during this difficult time. He was a devoted father, son, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend to many. He will be missed. Pidamayaye (thank you).”

Star-Tribune coverage of the funeral

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community has provided additional information on parking for today's wake and tomorrow's funeral service for Chairman Stanley Crooks. Due to the limited parking available at the Tiowakan Spiritual Center, guests are asked to follow the directional signage to the designated parking areas, located in the Team Member parking lots just northwest of Mystic Lake Casino on Dakota Parkway. Shuttle service will be provided from Team Member lots to Tiowakan.


The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) released a statement today reflecting on the life and contributions of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Chairman Stanley R. Crooks, a lifetime member of NCAI and prominent leader in Indian Country, who passed away this past Saturday August 25, 2012 from natural causes.

"Chairman Crooks was a dedicated Lifetime Member of NCAI and his passion for making Indian Country stronger was only surpassed by his love for his family and community. He was bold, and he carried with him the pride and courage of the Dakota people. We are sure there will be generations of great leaders who will walk in his footsteps and continue the vision of the nation he led and the efforts he supported," said Jefferson Keel, President of NCAI, and Lt. Governor of the Chickasaw Nation.

"Chairman Crooks will long be remembered at NCAI for his many contributions to Indian Country and his steadfast support for a unified voice for Indian Country. One of his greatest gifts to NCAI - and Indian Country - was his leadership, and that of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community in helping to establish the Embassy of Tribal Nations in Washington, D.C.  The legacy of Stanley Crooks' leadership is honored every time a tribal leader or citizen walks in the doors of our great Embassy; when a foreign dignitary or senior U.S. government official visits to build stronger ties between nations; when NCAI staff members arrive every day to work for the betterment of Indian Country. In the Embassy of Tribal Nations, his legacy will live on to the seventh generation, and beyond, and for that Indian Country should be forever grateful to Chairman Crooks and the nation he led for so many years."

In February of 2006, the Shakopee Nation, led by Chairman Crooks, became the first Eagle level donor, establishing a challenge grant in the sum of $1 million, calling on other tribes to engage in the Embassy of Tribal Nations Capital Campaign project. In 2009, the Embassy of Tribal Nations was opened in the heart of Washington, D.C.'s "Embassy Row."

In April of 2006 Chairman Crooks wrote an op-ed in which he outlined the vision for the Embassy and why it was important for Indian Country to realize the longtime vision for a home in the nation's Capital:

"The Embassy of Tribal Nations will benefit all Indian nations and all Native people for generations to come.  It will give Indian nations a permanent home in our nation's capital.  With this embassy, we can work towards increasing the status of our tribes and take our rightful place among other sovereign nations of the world - giving credence and attention to issues of importance in Indian Country. 

By working under the same roof with other national Indian organizations and tribes, our goal of working with one voice can be attained.  With a permanent home, Indian nations will have a base from which to carry out our intergovernmental relations to protect tribal sovereignty and treaty obligations.

The Embassy of Tribal Nations is an investment in the future of Indian Country.  When this building is completed, all of Indian Country will have a presence in the Nation's Capital and the halls of Congress like never before. " - Chairman Stanley Crooks, April 2006

In 2004 the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community contributed $100,000 to launch another important NCAI institution - the NCAI Policy Research Center - a tribally-driven research center dedicated to supporting Indian Country in shaping its own future.

Chairman Crooks' leadership was also instrumental to a renaissance in Native philanthropy. Under his leadership, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community members have approved community donations of more than $243 million to tribes and charitable organizations since 1996 and tribal loans of more than $450 million for economic development and community development. He served as Chairman of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community for more than 20 successive years and was reelected for a new four-year term of office in January of 2012.

Note: Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights.


Minnesota Chippewa Tribe (MCT) Chairman Norman Deschampe, who also serves as Chairman of the Grand Portage Band of Chippewa, issued the following statement today on behalf of the six tribes that comprise the MCT:

"The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe grieves the loss of Chairman Stanley Crooks of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. Chairman Crooks was an exceptional leader in every sense of the word. His strength of
character enabled him to transcend lingering historic differences between tribes. Many of Minnesota's Chippewa (Ojibwe) tribes have experienced the generosity of Chairman Crooks and the Shakopee Sioux
community in the forms of grants and loans for everything from economic development programs to community facilities. Stan's good will and honorable intentions were evident to all who knew him, and contributed greatly to the success of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, which has an extraordinary record of success in defense of tribal interests at the State Capitol as well as in Washington DC.

"On behalf of our six member bands--Fond du Lac, Bois Forte, Leech Lake, Mille Lacs, White Earth and Grand Portage--the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe extends its sincere condolences to the family of
Chairman Crooks, his colleagues on the Shakopee Business Council, community members and all those who have lost a beloved friend and colleague."

Monday, August 27, 2012


In a statement issued today, Bois Forte Band of Chippewa Chairman Kevin Leecy described his friend and colleague Chairman Stanley Crooks as "a true leader on so many fronts." The full statement read:

"Stanley was a tireless defender of tribal sovereignty, which is the lifeblood of our Indian nations. He understood that sovereignty is fundamental to all of our endeavors and all of our successes, and that it must be protected at all times.

"Stanley was also a leader in philanthropy. Indian traditions emphasize the importance of  sharing, and under Stanley's direction, the Shakopee Mdewakanton became one of Minnesota's most generous entities. The tribe's philanthropy has helped  Indian people across the country, and it has benefited non-Indian people and communities as well.

"Stanley Crooks leaves behind a legacy of leadership and community stewardship that
will be felt for generations to come."


National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. has issued an official statement praising the leadership and contributions of Chairman Stanley Crooks. Here is the full text with accompanying graphic:

"This past Saturday, I was notified that Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community's Chairman Stanley R. Crooks began his journey to the spirit world. This comes only two days after my visit with him at the St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Shakopee, Minnesota. 

"Stanley Crooks was an outstanding leader, chief, and visionary. In his life and leadership, he exemplified the Dakota virtues of courage, respect, generosity and wisdom. Over the past twenty plus years, Chairman Crooks showed the courage to always stand up for Indian sovereignty in the Halls of Congress, the State Capitol, and at home. Stanley always stood strong for the integrity of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which he viewed as a modern day treaty. 

"Chairman Crooks respected his people, neighbors, tribal, state and Federal leaders, and they respected him. With his leadership and the Shakopee Mdewakanton's generosity are legendary. Traveling through Sioux country, one can see Shakopee's support for other Indian tribes--at Rosebud, the Turtle Creek Crossing Grocery Store; at Pine Ridge, Prairie Winds Casino, at Standing Rock, the new wing at Prairie Knights Hotel; and at Cheyenne River, the nursing home. These are just a few examples of his determination to support Indian country. 

"Chairman Crooks had a great vision for Indian country, as sovereigns we are part of the American family of governments and our children look forward to a bright future. He saw his people lifted above the constraints of poverty and instilled them with the strength and resilience that you see today for the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. Chairman Crooks also had the wisdom to listen to others and respect their views. 

"Over the recent years, we had direct challenges to our efforts in Washington, DC and Chairman Crooks came in to outweigh these demoralizing threats by using his own voice to share the real benefits of Indian gaming. Time and again, Chairman Crooks demonstrated his unwavering leadership in support of Indian sovereignty. He called upon tribal leaders to develop a plan to educate Congress on the benefits of Indian gaming and the strength of tribal self-determination. His leadership was the backbone of the tribal government effort to defend Indian sovereignty. 

"Under his leadership, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community members have approved community donations of more than $243 million to tribes and charitable organizations since 1996 and tribal loans of more than $450 million for economic development and community development. He served as Chairman of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community for more than 20 successive years and was reelected for a new four-year term of office in January of 2012. 

"Crooks, who became the tribe's chairman in 1992, was a national figure in Indian country, serving as the chairman of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association for many years and the tribe's representative to the National Indian Gaming Association, as well as to the National Congress of American Indians. 

"National tribal leaders selected Stanley Crooks for the Wendell Chino Humanitarian Award in 2005. This award recognized his commitment to the advancement of tribal sovereignty. And in 2010, they gave him the Chairman's Leadership Award of Excellence for his environmental advocacy work. These awards are the highest honors NIGA gives to leaders dedicating their lives to making a better world for their people. Chairman Crooks has surely demonstrated that not just to his people, but also to his neighbors and other tribes. 

"Every time that I visited with the Chairman, I walked away motivated and energized. As soon as I heard of his passing, I immediately notified my son, Brandon Yellowbird Stevens Councilman at Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin, who then informed our tribal officials. I then informed former Oneida Chairman Rick Hill. Chairman Hill, who previously served as Chairman of NIGA, made the introduction and developed my friendship to Chairman Crooks. 

"When I last saw Chairman Crooks, I assured him that we will stand united with our tribes and that his vision will continue with our leaders. He taught us well and I thank him for his knowledge and generosity. Today, you can feel the immeasurable impact he gave his people and to Indian country. 

"He was a leader for many and on behalf of the National Indian Gaming Association, we thank Chairman Stanley Crooks for his tenacity, quick wit, and passion."


Floyd "Buck" Jourdain, Chairman of the Red Lake Nation, has issued the following statement paying tribute to Chairman Stanley Crooks, who died Saturday after more than two decades of service to the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) and MIGA:

"It is with heavy hearts that the Red Lake Tribal Council acknowledges the passing of Chairman Stanley Crooks, who passed on August 25, 2012. Chairman Crooks was a dear friend of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians.

Chairman Crooks was well revered, and respected by all Minnesota Indian leaders. His leadership and genuine concern for all Indian nations will be missed. Chairman Crooks continued the legacy and mission of his father, Norman Crooks, who was a pioneer of Indian gaming. Stanley fought hard to preserve gaming for what it was intended for, to benefit Indian people who have little opportunity.

Chairman Crooks and the Shakopee tribe generously contributed millions to Indian country, asking nothing in return. Here at Red Lake, Shakopee grants helped build two Boys & Girls Clubs, a skate park, basketball courts, and provided the startup money so that the Red Lake Band could breathe life back into the Red Lake fisheries and get people working again.

It brought tears to Chairman Crooks' eyes when he observed the people at the fisheries working, feeling good and taking home a paycheck to their families. He was quoted as saying, "Now that's what it's all about! That's why we do what we do." He was equally proud of the fact that Shakopee played a part in providing a safe place for reservation kids to play and flourish at the Boys & Girls Clubs both at Red Lake and in Ponemah.

In the midst of a tough economic crisis in America, when banks would not loan money to Red Lake or wanted to gouge the tribe with high fees, Shakopee provided a loan to the Red Lake Band with low interest rates which enabled us to build the Red Lake casino, a convenience store, and a tribal justice complex. Also, the forestry greenhouse, a police substation in Ponemah and a new elderly nutrition building were projects that were completed with the help of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

Without the leadership and support of Chairman Stanley Crooks and the rest of his Tribal Council, these projects may not have come to reality as quickly and as easily as they did. Some would not have happened at all.

The Chairman was uncompromising in his belief that Indian people come first. He was a strong leader with a big heart and a good man, who led with wisdom and integrity. He will be missed.

Our sincere condolences go out to his family, the Shakopee Tribal Council, and the entire Shakopee Mdewekanton Sioux Community."

Members of the 2006 Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Business Council with Chairman Floyd "Buck" Jourdain, right: from left, Secretary-Treasurer Keith Anderson; Vice Chairman Glynn Crooks; and Chairman Stanley Crooks, accompanied by band members and friends.


Funeral arrangements for Chairman Stanley Crooks now are confirmed. Visitation will begin at 5 pm Tuesday, August 28, at the Tiowakan Spiritual Center on the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Reservation. Eulogies and remarks by guests will begin at 7 pm. The visitation and traditional vigil will continue through the night. The funeral service will be held at Tiowakan at 11 am on Wednesday, August 29. 

Since Tiowakan Spiritual Center has limited seating capacity, covered overflow seating will be provided adjacent to the Center, where video and audio feed of the service will be available. No parking will be available at the Center, so please follow directional signage on Highway 83 to designated parking areas, where shuttle service will be provided. 

The Star-Tribune and Pioneer Press obituaries for Chairman Crooks include an on-line Guest Book for those wishing to leave messages of condolence.


Long-time MIGA lobbyist Andy Kozak, who worked closely with Chairman Stan Crooks for more than twenty years, posted this comment and photo on his Facebook page yesterday. It is a heartfelt tribute, and one that expresses what many who worked with Stan Crooks are feeling today.

"This quiet, unassuming man, Stanley Crooks, for 22 years led the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Tribe that tendered more financial help to other Native American tribes than any tribe in American history. And when thanks were offered to Stan, his reply was always the same: the thanks belongs to the tribal members who elected him to serve.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


U.S. Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN) issued the following statement yesterday on the death of Chairman Stanley Crooks:

“The passing of Chairman Stanley Crooks is a tremendous loss for Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, for all tribal Nations, and for anyone who worked closely with him.  Chairman Crooks’ leadership transformed his community and made him a highly respected national figure.

Chairman Crooks touched many, many lives in a way that gave hope, opportunity, and dignity to Native American families and communities in need.  He was a visionary and a proud leader for whom I have tremendous appreciation, respect, and fondness. I would like to extend my prayers and deepest sympathies to Chairman Crooks’ family, the entire Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, and all who encountered his generosity and profound spirit.”

Also yesterday, Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives Kurt Zellers issued this statement:

"Today, Minnesota lost a great leader in Chairman Stanley Crooks. His legacy of helping people in need and working hard to improve the lives of American Indians will endure in Minnesota's history. Stanley was a remarkable and wise leader who did an enormous amount of good in his life, not only for his own tribe, but for many people all across the Midwest. He was not only a great individual leader, but a great Minnesotan. It was a privilege to know Stanley and I am proud to call him a personal friend. My family and I send my condolences and prayers to Stanley's family and the members of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community."



Saturday, August 25, 2012


Minnesota Indian tribes are mourning the loss of Minnesota Indian Gaming Association (MIGA) Chairman Stanley Crooks, who passed away today at St. Francis Medical Center in Shakopee, MN.

Crooks, 70, had led MIGA since 1992, shortly after being elected to his first term as chairman of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. He brought unprecedented stability and continuity to his tribe and MIGA during more than two decades of service.

“It is hard to find the words to express the extent of the loss we have suffered today,” said MIGA Executive Director John McCarthy. “Chairman Crooks was one of the most respected and admired leaders in all of Indian country, but he was also a beloved friend and colleague to many of us who have worked with him over the past twenty years.”

Under Crooks’ leadership, MIGA became an influential advocate on behalf of tribes in Minnesota and nationally.

“Stan Crooks was a tireless warrior for sovereignty and tribal rights,” said McCarthy. “He wasn’t afraid to take on the tough fights, even when it meant going toe to toe with powerful politicians in St. Paul as well as Washington DC. For Stan, it was all about protecting the future so tribes wouldn’t have to repeat the past.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.