Despite warnings from gambling analysts that Indian casinos could be hit hard by the rising trends of customers participating in online gambling, one tribe just outside of Minneapolis are living lavishly from their inherited rights.
The Shakopee Mdewakanton, America ’s richest tribe, live out their lives in enormous mansions, driving lavish cars and holidaying on luxury yachts with the tribe’s revenues reaching an estimated $1 billion a year. And with just 480 members in the tribe, this $1 billion goes a long way, working out around $84,000 a month, or $1.08 million each year. What’s more, since the members live on reservation land, the income is also tax free.
“We have 99.2 per cent unemployment,” stated the tribe’s president, Stanley Crooks, explaining how the members of the tribe are now fortunate enough to not have to work owing to the two Indian casinos, accompanied by the championship golf course, concert venue and 600 room hotel built by the Shakopee Mdewakanton.
However, for such a traditional culture, there are those who are concerned about the problematic issues which could arise when teaching their children the value of money. Therefore, the traditional way of life is still promoted, with a number of tepees on the reservation land to promote the tribe’s heritage and ancestral roots.
“For us, we look at our ancestors as perseverance,” explained Crooks last year during an interview on Minnesota Public Radio when speaking of the US-Dakota War which almost wiped out the tribe 150 years ago.
“They held onto the language and they passed it on. They said, ‘This is your land, you need to do what you can to maintain a piece of it and pass it on to your children, that they will continue to be part of our land.’ That’s the way I look at it,” added the tribe’s president.
Despite the traditionalist outlook, many members of the tribe build second homes outside of the reservation and send their children to private schools to ensure they receive the best education afforded by the high revenue stream from the Indian casinos.
Just one generation ago, members of the tribe were residing in trailers with no indoor plumbing. Now, there are several mansions within the reservation and large warehouses are required to house the ever-growing number of cars, boats and other extravagant purchases.
The Shakopee Mdewakanton are also well-known for their charitable donations and give money to poorer tribes and charities throughout the US . In fact, the tribe has donated $243.5 million since 1996. In 2012, when the tribe donated a total of $28.5 million, they were awarded the Jefferson Award for Public Service.
“There’s nobody in the gaming industry that I know of that can compare to what Shakopee does,” stated chair of the National Indian Gaming Association, Ernest Stevens when speaking of the charitable donations from the tribe.