PRIOR LAKE, Minn. -- The beloved leader of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, one the nation's richest and influential American Indian tribes, was laid to rest Wednesday.
Stanley Crooks was 70 years old. He died of a heart attack on Saturday. Filling his shoes won't be an easy task. Crooks always put his community before himself even as his health deteriorated.
"I've had three or four reoccurring bouts with pneumonia and now I have lung disease," Crooks said during an interview with TPT Almanac in July this year.
His dedication allowed him to lead the Mdewakanton Sioux Community as chairman for more than 20 years. His fierce loyalty to his people earned him national recognition.
"He ranks right up there with many of the other great Indian leaders like Sitting Bull, Red Cloud," Leonard Wabasha, director of cultural resources for the tribe, said.
His leadership shaped the success of Mystic Lake and surrounding cities but he didn't stop there. His generosity poured out all over the state.
Under Crooks' guidance the tribe loaned and donated millions of dollars to the community, including $10 million for TCF BANK stadium.
Tribal members said he Crooks often told them to "take only what you need and share your excesses."
"We try to do that and follow what the chairman taught us and just continue what he wanted for his people," Glynn Crooks, former vice-chair of the tribe and first cousin to Crooks', said.
Current Vice-Chairman Charlie Vig will become the new Chairman of the tribe.
Crooks is survived by his wife and two daughters.
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)