Editor's note: Information from a news release from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.
A new school to educate young children will be supported by a $250,000 grant to the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. The grant will help fund design and construction of a state of the art facility to house the Winnebago Educare Project. With the objective to provide young children living on the Winnebago Reservation with opportunities to develop school readiness skills, the program will implement an intensive, research based educare model of early learning programming proven to reduce educational achievement disparities for children from lower income communities with young, at risk children. The new program will increase the involvement of parents in promoting their child’s development and incorporate the Ho-Chunk Language through regular exposure and engagement.
The Winnebago Educare Program is a partnership of the Winnebago Tribal Council, the Winnebago Head Start Program, the Little Hill Child Development Center, Winnebago Public Schools, St. Augustine School, and the Buffet Early Childhood Fund.
According to a report from the Department of Interior in 2005, the Winnebago Tribe ranked third out of 17 in the Great Plains region for working poor. In 2011 the reservation continued to have an extraordinary level of the employed living below the poverty level, with a rate of 94 percent. With poverty, school readiness for children is an issue and low educational attainment in the future is often the result.
Currently, 90 preschool children, 98 percent of them native, participate in the Winnebago Native Head Start Program. Little Hill Child Development Center, a licensed child care center, cares for 15 preschool aged children. These two entities will merge into the Educare School which will provide full day, full year services for children from birth through age five as well as an after-school program for elementary aged children.
Design and construction of a 31,600 square foot educational facility will incorporate natural-light-filled spaces that are open to nature, drawing on sensory stimulation for a conducive learning environment. Funds from the SMSC will join those from the Winnebago Tribe, the Buffet Early Childhood Fund, the Travois New Market Tax Credit Contribution, and others.
Winnebago is a progressive tribe located in a rural primarily agricultural area, approximately 20 miles south of Sioux City, Iowa, and 80 miles north of Omaha. The reservation has a population of about 2,700 on approximately 120,000 acres of cropland, woodland, and pasture in the northern half of Thurston County, Nebraska, as well as approximately 1,800 acres in Iowa.
In fiscal year 2003 the SMSC funded an innovative housing project with a $200,000 grant to the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska's Ho-Chunk Community Development Corporation. The grant helped fund down payment assistance for new homebuyers.
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, The Meadows at Mystic Lake, and other enterprises on a reservation south of the Twin Cities. The SMSC utilizes 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 members in education, health, and well-being.
A tribal charitable giving program which comes from a cultural and social tradition to assist those in need has given away more than $258.2 million to Indian Tribes, charitable organizations, and schools since 1996. Through the Mdewakanton LIFE Program, the SMSC has donated 775 Automated External Defibrillators to tribes, schools, police and fire departments, and other organizations with 21 lives saved due to their use.
The SMSC has also made more than $523 million in loans mostly to other tribes for economic and infrastructure development projects. Since 1996 the SMSC paid more than $7.6 million for shared local road construction and an additional $16.7 million for road projects on the reservation. The SMSC has also paid $14.4 million to local governments for services and another $6.4 million for other projects.