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Shakopee Mdewakanton Loan $13.5 Million to Oglala Sioux Tribe for Nursing Home


Prior Lake, MN – Elders will be able to return home to the reservation for their golden years once a tribal nursing home is completed by the Oglala Sioux Tribe, funded through a loan by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. The $13.5 million loan was approved in March 2012 by the SMSC General Council, all the voting members of the tribe, but due diligence and other issues to finalize the loan has taken nearly eight months to complete.

With the funds, the Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota are building a 50,000 square feet, 60 bed nursing home south of the town of Whiteclay, Nebraska, which is adjacent to the Pine Ridge Reservation.

“This nursing home is something that the Oglala Sioux Tribe has needed for many years. Tribal elders from the Pine Ridge Reservation will have a place to live that is close to their home and not have to be located hundreds of miles from their loved ones and family,” said SMSC Chairman Charlie Vig.

With completion planned for the fall of 2013, the facility is expected to employ as many as 100 tribal members and other employees, including Certified Nursing Assistants, Registered Nurses, and other support staff. The OST is negotiating with the nearby Indian Health Service to provide medical care.

“The nursing home will be self-sufficient, with quality facilities. We have done studies, and we can fill the 60 beds,” said Oglala Sioux Tribe President John Yellow Bird Steele.

Pine Ridge Reservation is home to the Oglala Lakota who are members of a major Sioux division known as the Western or Teton Sioux. Pine Ridge has a tribal membership of 47,000 tribal members of whom about 30,000 live on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, a territory that covers 2.8 million acres in western South Dakota with 600 acres in Nebraska. One third of the total population report Lakota as their first language. OST is the third poorest tribe in the United States, according to President Steele.

Tribal elders, revered for their wisdom, have been destined to spend their final years in nursing homes far away from the reservation. This created extreme hardship for a people who are committed to honoring and revering their elders.

Since 1978 President Steele recalled wanting to bring a nursing home to the reservation. Unable to reach an agreement with the State of South Dakota, where the vast majority of the OST is located, the tribal government turned to the State of Nebraska, where they own 600 acres of trust land dating back to 1889.

Negotiations with the State of Nebraska and the Indian Health Service were required and ultimately the State passed two pieces of legislation to help make the project possible. There had been a ban on new nursing home beds in the state so first that had to be lifted. Then a bill recognizing the Oglala Sioux Tribe as a sovereign government was passed which allows the State to function as a “pass through” for the third party billing, thus the Tribe will receive 100% reimbursement for allowable costs.

The facility is being designed with an eye to the future so that when the time comes and all 60 beds are consistently filled, a capacity for 20 beds can easily be added.

“The Shakopee Tribe has been more than cordial to work with and very professional, and it’s been a good experience,” said Gary Ruse, financial consultant for the OST who has worked on the project since 2004.

“I thank everybody involved. We spent so much time trying to make it happen and now it will be a reality, thanks to Shakopee. Shakopee stepping in was a dream come true. We thank Shakopee. They understood and helped make it a reality,” President Steele said.

President Steele recalled that it was the late Chairman Stanley R. Crooks who suggested that it might take some time for the third party billings to come through so he suggested putting $500,000 into the loan for operating expenses. “He was an astute business man who brought up that need,” he said.

Other Projects Funded

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community previously has funded numerous projects for the OST, including a $38 million loan for construction of the Prairie Wind Casino, debt consolidation, and other projects; $750,000 for domestic violence and sexual assault prevention and intervention programming facilities at Cangleska, Inc; $103,700 to the Oglala Sioux Tribe Woitancan Empowerment Zone for propane trucks; $75,441 for an ambulance building in Wanblee; a $54,000 grant to purchase a handicap accessible vehicle for transporting diabetic and wheelchair bound patients to medical appointments; $50,000 for a dialysis center at Porcupine; $50,000 for emergency assistance after a severe wind storm; $10,000 to the Oglala Sioux Tribe for propane tanks; and more.

About the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, a federally recognized Indian Tribe in Minnesota, is the owner and operator of Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, Little Six Casino, Mazopiya, Dakotah! Sport and Fitness, Playworks and other enterprises on a reservation south of the Twin Cities. The SMSC utilizes its financial resources from gaming and non-gaming enterprises to pay for the internal infrastructure of the Tribe, including but not limited to roads, water and sewer systems, emergency services, and essential services to its members in education, health, and well-being.

A tribal charitable giving program which comes from a cultural and social tradition to assist those in need has given away more than $258.2 million to Indian Tribes, charitable organizations, and schools since 1996. Through the Mdewakanton LIFE Program, the SMSC has donated 746 Automated External Defibrillators to tribes, schools, police and fire departments, and other organizations with 19 lives successfully saved due to their use.

The SMSC has also made $500 million in loans to other tribes for economic and infrastructure development projects. Since 1996 the SMSC paid more than $7.6 million for shared local road construction and an additional $16.7 million for road projects on the reservation. The SMSC has also paid $14.4 million to local governments for services and another $6.4 million for other projects.


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