KBIC remembers Fred Dakota

The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community mourns and remembers the life and legacy of former tribal president and chairman Fred Dakota.
FILE. A photo of Fred Dakota.
FILE. A photo of Fred Dakota.(WLUC)
Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 6:54 PM EDT
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L’ANSE, Mich. (WLUC) - The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community flag stands at half staff today – paying respect to Fred Dakota.

His nephew, Chris Swartz now serves as tribal president.

“I’m going to miss his visits, his leadership style, he would come and visit me at the tribal president office often, and just share some thoughts and ideas with me,” said Swartz. “It was an honor to hear Uncle Fred tell me some of his stories.”

Swartz says Dakota was a dedicated tribal leader, as well as a leader to his family. Dakota’s great-granddaughter, Kayla Dakota, agrees.

“He was a very awesome guy. Everyone liked to be around him,” said Kayla Dakota. “Every time he came into the room, he always brightened it up, everyone knew who he was and everyone just loved to talk to him.”

Kayla Dakota says one of her great-grandpa’s most known accomplishments was in the 80s.

Back then, Dakota opened a casino out of his garage on New Year’s Eve. This made him the first person to open a licensed Native American casino in Michigan.

“He always had to work for what he had, and being in Indian gaming was no different,” said Swartz. “One day he was a tribal president, and the next day he wasn’t a tribal president.”

However, Swartz says that didn’t stop Dakota from taking care of those close to him.

“He still had people who depended on him, he still had to feed his family,” said Swartz.

In fact, Dakota’s hard-earned legacy will remain for generations in Baraga County.

“A lot of what is seen in Baraga, like the Pines, and the Casino, is really cool, to know that’s what my grandfather did,” said Kayla Dakota.

Dakota’s funeral was held Friday afternoon at the Reid Chapel in L’Anse.

After the service, he was buried at the Pinery Indian Cemetary with a military sendoff for his service in the Marines.

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