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