History of the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians and Kewadin Casinos
The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians is a modern expression of the Anishinabeg, or Original People, who have lived in the Great Lakes region for more than 500 years. Many of the Anishinabeg made their homes near the rapids of the St. Mary’s River, which they called Bawating, or the Gathering Place. This area would later become the City of Sault Ste. Marie.
The roots of the Tribe’s modern government extend into the 1940s. During that time, neither the city of Sault Ste. Marie nor Sugar Island contained lands for the Chippewa people, nor did the federal government consider them members of the Bay Mills Indian Community. Consequently, the Sugar Island Group decided to push for recognition as a separate Tribe. The impoverished community in which they lived motivated their actions. Many of the Native people lacked jobs and lived in substandard homes. It took more than 20 years for the Tribe to gain federal recognition. Once recognized, the Original Band became the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Separate land for the Tribe was placed into trust in March of 1974 and a Tribal Constitution was adopted in the fall of 1975. Today, the Tribe is a fully recognized Indian community with 29,000 enrolled members living throughout Michigan and the United States. Our Tribal sovereignty is recognized throughout the United States and Canada.
In 1984, the Board of Directors voted to open the Tribe’s most successful business, Kewadin Casinos. Kewadin’s rapid success provided funds to expand the Tribe’s business holdings from one to five casinos and gained ownership of 15 non-gaming enterprises. In 2005, these businesses employed nearly 2,000 people making the Tribe the Upper Peninsula’s largest employer.
The long-term goal of the Tribe is to become self-sufficient. Revenues from the Tribe’s casinos and non-gaming businesses are spent in ways that better our communities by providing improved health care, housing, and increased educational opportunities.
The Sault Tribe continues to build and nurture strong families, communities and nations. We are always searching for new and exciting ways that will allow us to carry these trends and traditions on for many generations to come. We continue to revitalize and promote our cultural and traditional values as an Anishinabeg nation.