In the days since the passing of Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Chairman Stanley Crooks many throughout Indian country and the federal government have shared their condolences as well as memories of meeting and working with the revered chairman.
The following are some of the reactions Indian Country Today Media Network has seen:
Jefferson Keel, president of NCAI, and Lt. Governor of the Chickasaw Nation: “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.
“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.”
Acting Assistant Secretary—Indian Affairs Donald “Del” Laverdure: “Stanley Crooks, the late chairman of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community in Minnesota, takes his place among the thoughtful, far-seeing and decisive tribal leaders that Indian country has produced throughout history.
“He was a vigorous and dedicated advocate of tribal sovereignty and self-determination, and his commitment to the Dakota principle of sharing with others made him a leader in tribal philanthropy that helped to improve lives in many tribal communities in addition to his own. As the son of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s first chairman, Norman N. Crooks, and as a member of the U.S. Navy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, a time of great peril for the United States, Chairman Crooks had the timber to be a great leader.
“His efforts to improve the lives of his people and others across Indian country, and his leadership and vision on matters affecting all American Indians, will be deeply and sorely missed.”
Mark Van Norman, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe: “Stan Crooks was a devoted family man, Dakota Itancan (Chief), and Native Visionary. He saw that by investing in our own communities, we can provide a new life for our people with jobs and opportunity and at the same time, preserve our culture and life ways. When you travel Sioux country, you can see the good works and generosity of chairman Crooks and the Shakopee Mdewakanton people. At Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Standing Rock, Cheyenne River, Lower Brule, Crow Creek, Flandreau and Santee Sioux—all of our people have benefitted. And, chairman Crooks helped others as well. When Omaha Casino was closed by the National Indian Gaming Commission. Shakopee helped them reinvest and reopen. He reached out to help Red Lake, White Earth and Leech Lake Chippewa. I knew him for 20 years as I worked on Indian sovereignty and economic development issues for my own tribe and on the national level.
“Chairman Crooks and Shakopee invested in Stacey Thunder and her PBS Native American News. When it was time for the University to build a new stadium, chairman Crooks and the Mdewakanton donated and in exchange, the University set up a tribal square with information about all of the Minnesota tribes, their history and communities. When Indian sovereignty was on the line, chairman Crooks was our chief, providing leadership, vision and encouragement.
“Even when he was sick his dedication to Indian people shined through. He worked eight hours or more a day when he was on oxygen. He was in high demand by his own people and neighboring tribes, and it was his utmost desire to provide them the help and leadership that they needed to be successful. Just two weeks ago, I met with him to strategize on economic development for neighboring tribes in the region. Our loss is deeply felt, we have great sympathy for his family and his people, and we will always remember him as a great man with a great heart and a mighty vision. His memory will make us stand straighter and work harder for our Indian people.”
Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN): “The passing 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.”
Floyd Jourdain Jr., Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians chairman: “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 Indian 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! This is why we do what we do.’ He was equally as 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 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 to the entire Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux community.”
John McCarthy, Minnesota Indian Gaming Association executive director: “It is hard to find the words to express the extent of the loss we have suffered today. 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 20 years. Stan Crooks was a tireless warrior for sovereignty and tribal rights. 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 D.C. For Stan, it was all about protecting the future so tribes wouldn’t have to repeat the past.”
Brian Patterson, United South and Eastern Tribes president: “The USET nations are saddened this day due to the passing of a legendary Indian country leader, chairman Stanley Crooks. Our hearts, blessings and prayers go out to chairman Crooks’ family and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. The style of leadership and legacy that chairman Crooks has established is one that will serve as a model for all leaders through this country and the world.
While the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is saddened by the loss of chairman Crooks, it should be equally joyous for having had his courage, intelligence and resourcefulness. It is not difficult to see that he was blessed with a mentor and father like Norman Crooks, who instilled great wisdom and compassion into Stanley. While the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community struggled to find a way to help its people, chairman Crooks helped find a way for his people to prosper. I am moved by his words “If you do not have resources it is tough to exercise your sovereignty.”
Chairman Crooks’ compassion for his fellow man is an asset we hope all people will inherit. When his community realized success, he was eager to share the resources that have been developed freely and openly to build a better world. Through his initiatives he empowered thousands by providing millions of dollars, mentoring and being vigilant in Washington, D.C. to shape policy that benefited, not just his tribe, but all of Indian country.
Our young people will grow from his examples of working to help the next seven generations and for those less fortunate. Chairman Stanley Crooks’ legacy shall live on in our hearts and lives. Our daily affirmations should include prayers to follow in his footsteps and build on his work. Our Nations will enjoy a legacy based on the strength and courage of the chairman’s life. In parting, we must remember that with every dusk a night befalls, with every night a new dawn appears. We in Indian country stand ready to wipe the tears of his family and People; it is also the departing virtue we wish for Stanley…Strength and courage on his journey.”