Fred Dakota was one of a kind, will be greatly missed at KBIC

It’s not often that someone makes a profound and lasting impact on not only what they are doing but what others, perhaps many others, are doing.

But that’s what Fred Dakota did during his years in leadership at the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.

As most in the region are aware, Dakota died last Monday at the age of 84.

Warren “Chris” Swartz Jr., who serves as KBIC Tribal Council president, issued the following statement on that occasion: “It was an honor and a privilege to stand shoulder to shoulder with one of the greatest leaders in Indian Country. Fred impacted not only KBIC, but many tribal communities with his leadership abilities. I, for one, am grateful for what he has done for me personally and professionally. I will miss his visits and his leadership qualities. He cared about KBIC and the L’Anse Indian Reservation. He greatly loved his family and will be deeply missed.”

Separately, the tribe noted in public pronouncements that Dakota was “a true visionary who is credited with the development and evolution of KBIC. From 1968 to 2018, he served on the Tribal Council and served 20 of those years as the Chairman. Fred was a passionate and courageous leader who was willing to take risks. He was a firm believer in Tribal sovereignty and made sure that KBIC was in the forefront of negotiation(s) for treaty rights and self-governance. Fred was a teacher and mentor as well as a respected elder and veteran of the United States Marine Corps.”

The purpose of this writing is not to claim we supported every decision that Dakota made as tribal chairman. We certainly did not.

But throughout his run at the top of the KBIC hierarchy, we always believed Dakota was 100 percent motivated by his love and dedication to KBIC. He fought the battles he fought, we believe, with that as motivation.

Make no mistake, he was successful, not only in the area of gaming, where his name is oftened noted, but in tribal and cultural organization and development.

And you always knew where Fred Dakota stood.

We honor his many accomplishments, his drive and perseverance. He will be missed.


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