the more than 600 indigenous nations on the North American continent governed themselves, negotiated treaties, managed their own affairs, and took care of their people. These Sovereign Nations honored their relatives, the world around them, and all life as sacred. They each had, and continue to have, their own unique culture, language, history, and traditions.
Federal policies destroyed tribal economies and took millions of lives and hundreds of millions of acres of Indian lands. The federal government made thousands of treaty obligations with Sovereign Nations when establishing a land base for the United States. These treaties established a nation-to-nation relationship between Indian tribes and the United States federal government.
The tribes retained their sovereignty, their powers of self-government over their lands and members. As a Sovereign Nation, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is subject to federal powers, but is not subject to the authority of state, county, or city governments. Congress has the exclusive power to regulate Indian affairs. A state, by contrast, only has the power over Indian affairs within tribal territory that Congress has specifically given it.
For those unfamiliar with tribal sovereignty, it may be helpful to draw comparisons. One example is that of the state of Minnesota and Canada. The state of Minnesota does not attempt to exert authority over Canada. It would not only be impractical, but also a wrong use of power for them to even try. Minnesota and Canada coexist peaceably as neighbors and work together when it is mutually beneficial.
As a sovereign nation, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, like every federally recognized Indian Tribe, cannot be taxed, ruled, or dictated to by other governments. In certain circumstances, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community may make voluntary payments to city and county governments to cover the cost of services provided by those local jurisdictions to the Community. Our tribal government also works with local governments on road, sewer, and other projects of mutual benefit. The Community has made more than 70 agreements on a variety of topics with government entities over the past 24 years.
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is a government responsible for the safety and well being of our members. Today the SMSC tribal government utilizes its financial resources from gaming and non-gaming enterprises to first and foremost meet those responsibilities to our tribal membership. The SMSC is the responsible governmental unit to regulate land uses on the reservation and is required to comply with all federal environmental standards. As a government, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community tribal government pays for and develops all internal infrastructure. Just like other governments, we develop housing, roads, water, wastewater, and sewer systems, and provide essential services to individuals regarding education, health, and welfare on our lands.