Native American gambling pioneer Fred Dakota dies at age 84: NPR

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Fred Dakota died Monday at his home in Baraga, Michigan. Here, Dakota is found outside the federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1997.

George Grisenia / AP


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Fred Dakota died Monday at his home in Baraga, Michigan. Here, Dakota is found outside the federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1997.

George Grisenia / AP

Baraga, Michigan — Fred Dakota, whose garage casino on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan was a milestone for Native American gambling in 1983, died at the age of 84.

According to the Reid Funeral Service, Dakota, a former leader of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, died at his home in Baraga on Monday. The cause has not been clarified.

The tribal office was closed with the Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College on Friday, the day of the funeral. The location of Ojibwe Casino in Baraga and Marquette was closed most of the afternoon.

“It was an honor and privilege to be on par with one of India’s greatest leaders,” said tribal president Warren “Chris” Swarts Jr. “Fred influenced many tribal communities not only with KBIC, but with his leadership skills.”

Dakota, with one blackjack table, opened a casino on New Year’s Eve 1983 in two stall garages in Baraga County. The whiskey shot was 70 cents. The better one was 20 cents more.

“When we signed the treaty in 1854, we gave the government vast lands in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota,” Dakota told The New York Times in 1984. Kill us Now it’s time to get something more. Gambling will make many Indians rich. “

The garage casino led to the construction of a larger casino, but a federal court decision closed the casino. Mr Dakota said he could not afford to appeal any further.

By 1987, the US Supreme Court had used a California lawsuit to relax restrictions on gambling on tribal lands, a turning point for Native American casinos. A year later, federal law allowed the state to negotiate a compact with the tribe.

In 1997, a jury received a $ 127,000 bribe from a New Jersey slot machine dealer and convicted Dakota of tax evasion of the money. He claimed that the money was a prepayment for the telephone lottery game. Dakota was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison.

Native American gambling pioneer Fred Dakota dies at age 84: NPR

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