Spirit of volunteerism at the SMSC



Volunteerism is more than just a concept at the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC). John Vig, Sr., an SMSC member, is demonstrating the importance of volunteering through a longtime friendship with SMSC Gaming Enterprise team member Wallace “Jack” Jackman.

Vig and Jackman have worked together for many years on volunteer efforts to help others. Through their relationship, which started when Jackman was a bingo caller in the original Bingo Hall during the 1980s and continuing over the years, a strong friendship has developed. Vig and his wife Kathy have joined Jackman in supporting the International Leadership Institute and Project Sweetie Pie through donating their time.

(l-r) Michael Chaney of Project Sweetie Pie, John Vig, Sr.,  and Wallace “Jack” Jackman.  Photo courtesy of SMSC
(l-r) Michael Chaney of Project Sweetie Pie, John Vig, Sr.,
and Wallace “Jack” Jackman.
Photo courtesy of SMSC


Project Sweetie Pie

Through his friendship with Jackman, Vig has developed a relationship with the organization Project Sweetie Pie, where over the past few years he has donated his time and his tractor to till 17 inner-city gardens. Through Vig’s work tilling all the gardens, youth and mentors have been able to grow produce on land that was formerly unused private property or blighted city lots. Youth and their families participate in the planting, maintenance, harvesting and marketing of the produce grown.

The Project has sent two groups of youth to help in the SMSC Wozupi (garden) greenhouse, and the SMSC has donated plants for their gardens. These scattered gardens give local residents the chance to grow food in their neighborhoods.

Project Sweetie Pie is also working with schools, churches, youth development organizations, the University of Minnesota, and the City of Minneapolis. More than 100 youth, family members, neighbors, mentors, and educators are involved in the project. For his willingness to help, Vig was presented with a Project Sweetie Pie t-shirt, a sense of accomplishment, and lots of smiles.

“As fortunate as we are, we have a responsibility to share our skills and resources. We were there at one time, and there wasn’t a lot of help for us,” said Vig. “It always makes a person feel good when they can help others who are less fortunate.”


International Leadership Institute

Vig’s involvement with the International Leadership Institute also blossomed this year. Focusing on infrastructure, rule of law, and education-development projects throughout the world, the Institute reaches out to people in the least developed nations of the world and restores services in countries ravaged by war. Jackman, who has been involved with the Institute for many years, encouraged his friend Vig to also get involved.

That involvement took the form of providing information about the SMSC’s wastewater treatment to Bostone Ezekiel Tanui, the director of the Eldoret Water and Sanitation Company in Eldoret, Kenya, a sister city to Minneapolis. Vig provided press releases, the fact sheet, and photos on the tribe’s Water Reclamation Facility to Bostone in early 2013. Then, in June 2013 when Bostone traveled to the Twin Cities, Vig took him on a tour of the SMSC Water Reclamation Facility and introduced him to staff.

“We have a lot of challenges. We don’t get enough water into the city, so we have to ration it,” explained Bostone. “The city hosts one million people during the day and about 600,000 at night. Some days they get running water and some days they don’t. We produce about 60 percent of the need.”

Bostone said the solution is to build more dams and treatment plants, expand the piping to cover the entire city, and move away from the open lagoon method of wastewater treatment, which led to his interest in the SMSC’s method of wastewater treatment. Bostone will put together a report on his findings and circulate it in his home country in hopes of improving their water and wastewater treatment systems.

“I encourage everyone to volunteer and get involved,” said Vig. “It always makes you feel better to help others. It feels really good and the rewards are great.”


This information was provided by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.