Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is recognized among
 103 recipients from around the country with the 
“Nobel Prize for Public Service”

Prior Lake, MN – In celebration of its extraordinary contributions to philanthropy and selfless work within the community, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community was honored at a Washington, D.C. awards gala on June 21, 2011.  The event recognized 103 Americans and organizations with the 39th annual Jefferson Awards, regarded as one of the nation’s highest honors for community service and volunteerism.

Known as the “Nobel Prize” for public service, the awards are presented each year over two days of ceremonies in the nation’s capital and New York City. A broad array of honorees are recognized – from high-profile individuals who have dedicated the better part of their lives to public service to celebrated professional athletes to largely unheralded community-based volunteers.  Also recognized are organizations and companies that represent the pinnacle in corporate citizenship and schools that best reflect the Jeffersonian ideals of citizen involvement.

Grassroots recipients are selected through local media partners in markets throughout the country.  The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community was chosen by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. SMSC Vice-Chairman Glynn Crooks accepted the Jefferson Award on behalf of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community for the tribe’s philanthropy.

Over the past 15 years, the SMSC has donated more than $215.7 million to charitable organizations, Indian Tribes, and Native American organizations. The SMSC has also made a commitment to loan more than $400 million in loans to other tribes for economic development projects. The SMSC uses 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 Tribal members in education, health, and welfare. The SMSC’s charitable giving program comes from a cultural and social tradition to assist those in need.

This year’s honorees also include Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, actress and philanthropist Marlo Thomas, Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls owner Jerry M. Reinsdorf, Share Our Strength founder Bill Shore, former Atlanta Falcons running back Warrick Dunn, and Brittany and Robbie Bergquist, the brother and sister co-founders of Cell Phones for Soldiers.

“Our nation’s greatness is derived in large measure from its goodness – from the largely unheralded yet noble Americans whose commitment to helping others embodies the founding ideals of our democracy,” said Sam Beard, founder and president of the Jefferson Awards for Public Service.  “The Jefferson Awards serve to celebrate those among us whose selflessness, altruism and generosity of spirit represent the best of America. The tireless work of individuals and organizations such as the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community not only improves their own communities but serves to dignify our nation as a whole. We owe them our thanks and offer these congratulations.”

The 2011 grassroots awards celebration started on Monday, June 20 in the grand ballroom of the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.  Tuesday, June 21st, the recipients had the opportunity to visit with their U.S. Senators on Capitol Hill, with national awards being presented that evening at a gala awards ceremony at the National Building Museum.

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About The Jefferson Awards

Co-founded in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft, Jr. and Sam Beard, The Jefferson Awards annually celebrate America’s commitment to public service.  Recognizing both the famous and the unknown, individuals and organizations, the young and old, the awards reflect one of the founding ideals of our nation, that of contributing toward the larger good.  As Thomas Jefferson himself wrote, “Private charities as well as contributions to public purposes in proportion to everyone’s circumstances are certainly among the duties we owe to society."

The Jefferson Award recipients are nominated from throughout the country and selected by the organization’s board of directors, who include Hank Aaron, the Hon. Julian Bond, Cris Collinsworth, Michael Douglas, Whoopi Goldberg, the Hon. Mitch McConnell, the Hon. Harry Reid, Neil Simon, Leslie Stahl and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.  Honorees are chosen on the basis of two main criteria: the outstanding nature of the acts of service and the impact on the community of those acts.  Past recipients of the award include Lance Armstrong, Kirk Douglas, Peyton Manning, Oprah Winfrey, Sally Ride, Bill & Melinda Gates, Dr. C. Everett Koop, General Colin Powell and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. 

For more information on The Jefferson Awards, visit

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, Playworks, Dakotah! Sport and Fitness, The Meadows at Mystic Lake, Shakopee Dakota Convenience Stores, and other enterprises on a reservation south of the Twin Cities.