Spirit Lake Nation History
The Spirit Lake Nation Reservation was established by Treaty between the United States Government and the Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Bands in 1867. The reservation is located in East Central North Dakota.
According to BIA Labor Force report as of 1998 there were 5,086 enrolled members of the Spirit Lake Tribe. Other Native Americans living on the reservation from other Native American tribes is approximately 350, non-Native Americans residing on the reservation is 903. As of April 1999, the reservations unemployment rate was 59.9%.
Total population within the Spirit Lake Tribe boundaries is 6,339. The current trends show an increasing population of Native American residents of the Spirit Lake Tribe and a decreasing population of non-Native Americans residing within the boundaries.
The topography of the reservation is generally consistent with the Northern Plains region, with both flat terrain and rolling hills, and some wooded areas. The major surface water feature of the reservation is Devils Lake, which comprises 90,000 acres of area stretched over 200 miles. There are also numerous small lakes on the reservation, including; Twin Lakes, Spring Lake, Free Peoples Lake, Elbow Lake, and Skin and Bone Lake.
The major river surface water body is the Sheyenne River, which forms the southern boundary of the reservation. The portion of the Sheyenne within the reservation is approximately 50 miles long: ultimately the Sheyenne River discharges into the Red River, which flows northerly between North Dakota and Minnesota into Manitoba, Canada. Numerous small streams and springs within the reservation also contribute flows to the Sheyenne River. In addition, the rivers and streams of the reservation have substantial areas of associated wetlands and prairie potholes.
The Spirit Lake Tribe Indian Reservation covers approximately 405 square miles primarily in Benson County, and in the Southern part is Eddy County, Nelson on the east boundary and Ramsey County to the north. Total acres as of 1998 was as follows; total tribally owned is 26,283 acres, allotted (trust) land; (trust) is 34,026 acres, U.S. Government and State land is 375 acres, while fee land is 184,451 acres. Within the exterior boundaries there is a total of 245,141 acres.
Spirit Lake Casino:
The opportunity to strengthen the tribe’s economic potential came with the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988. Following the signing of an agreement between the Governor of North Dakota and the Tribes, the first tribal casino on the reservation was opened at St. Michael, ND. The facility employed 35 individuals, most of whom were tribal members. In 1994, the tribe renovated a gymnasium and added a casino in Tokio, ND. This development created employment for 191 people, 75 percent of whom were Native American.
In 1996, the Spirit Lake Tribe closed its two existing casinos, investing $7 million in the construction of a new 49,000 sq./ft. casino. Operation began on June 1, 1996 and was named Spirit Lake Casino. This new venture created an additional 150 new jobs for the reservation and surrounding communities.
For more information, please visit the Spirit Lake Nation website: www.spiritlakenation.com