NCAI reflects on Chairman Crooks life, contributions

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) released a statement today reflecting on the life and contributions of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Chairman Stanley R. Crooks, a lifetime member of NCAI and prominent leader in Indian Country, who passed away this past Saturday August 25, 2012 from natural causes.

“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.” Jefferson Keel, President of NCAI and Lt. Governor of the Chickasaw Nation

“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.”

In February of 2006, the Shakopee Nation, led by Chairman Crooks, became the first Eagle level donor, establishing a challenge grant in the sum of $1 million, calling on other tribes to engage in the Embassy of Tribal Nations Capital Campaign project. In 2009, the Embassy of Tribal Nations was opened in the heart of Washington, D.C.’s “Embassy Row.”

In April of 2006 Chairman Crooks wrote an op-ed in which he outlined the vision for the Embassy and why it was important for Indian Country to realize the longtime vision for a home in the nation’s Capital:

“The Embassy of Tribal Nations will benefit all Indian nations and all Native people for generations to come.  It will give Indian nations a permanent home in our nation’s capital.  With this embassy, we can work towards increasing the status of our tribes and take our rightful place among other sovereign nations of the world – giving credence and attention to issues of importance in Indian Country. 

By working under the same roof with other national Indian organizations and tribes, our goal of working with one voice can be attained.  With a permanent home, Indian nations will have a base from which to carry out our intergovernmental relations to protect tribal sovereignty and treaty obligations.

The Embassy of Tribal Nations is an investment in the future of Indian Country.  When this building is completed, all of Indian Country will have a presence in the Nation’s Capital and the halls of Congress like never before. ” – Chairman Stanley Crooks, April 2006

In 2004 the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community contributed $100,000 to launch another important NCAI institution – the NCAI Policy Research Center – a tribally-driven research center dedicated to supporting Indian Country in shaping its own future.

Chairman Crooks’ leadership was also instrumental to a renaissance in Native philanthropy. Under his leadership, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community members have approved community donations of more than $243 million to tribes and charitable organizations since 1996 and tribal loans of more than $450 million for economic development and community development. He served as Chairman of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community for more than 20 successive years and was reelected for a new four-year term of office in January of 2012.

Note: Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights.

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Andy Platto