In ten years I had the director position and I’ve been here since

Ms. White talks about non-Natives' lack of knowledge about the Dakota, tribal contributions to Minnesota, and her daily life.

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DL: That’s a good skill. What contributions have the Dakota people made to Minnesota and to the country? What do you think your people can teach everybody else?

DW: Usually you know like for the tribe itself, a lot of non-natives don’t realize that the Sioux are in Minnesota. So I think when
the tribe donates to some organization or something it’s always brought up that it’s from
the Prairie Island Sioux or whatever. I think they don’t really know the history about
natives. They know there are Ojibwa up north but they don’t know anything about the
Dakota in the southern part of Minnesota. Like I said earlier when guests come in and
talk about natives and they ask me about tribes and I’ll say Sioux. So then they say, “I
never knew there were Sioux in Minnesota. I thought they were all in South Dakota or
North Dakota.” The Casino, I think the tribe has educated a lot of the other Casinos.
Some would always come here and work under us for a few weeks and then they’d go
back or we’d go up to their place and we’d give them instructions on how we operate
this and that. I had a friend that worked for the Gaming Commission and I think it was
Red Lake was just starting to do something with the mix or something so the Gaming
Commission went up there and taught them how to do this and that. I think the
Winnebago tribe down by the Black River, the Dells, they would come here and work
under us for awhile just to you know… Like I think, I don’t know if it was Granite Falls or
Jackpot, when they first had their security hired, he spent a month with us here and we
taught him you know. We gave him a copy of our policies and procedures. He took
them home and more or less worked them into his.
Other than that, I don’t really know.

DL: You have to take pride in the fact that you’re seen as an industry leader in this field and that you’ve really been able to help other Indians. That’s tremendous.

DL: Here’s a pretty soft question: What is your typical day like? What do you do?

DW: I usually have… The only free day I have during the week is like a Friday because I usually have meetings you know Monday through Thursday. If it’s not with the directorship it’s with my management group you know the supervisors. Just more or less kind of overseeing you know that everything is followed correctly. I have staff that come in to say you know, “I’ve been doing this for this many days and you’re not rotating me.” You know minor things.

DL: How big is your staff?

DW: I have 125 but I think there are twenty that are EMTs and I have two locksmiths. The rest are security officers. I have two managers and nine supervisors.

DL: That’s a lot of responsibility.

DW: Um hum.

DL: How long have you worked here?

DW: March 5th was 27 years.

DL: Were you an actual security officer at one time?

DW: Yes. I was attending the U of M when I started here. I thought I’d get a summer job, so that’s how I started part time. A year later, March 5th I went full time and then… I remember when they first interviewed me they said, “What’s your plan in ten years?” I said, “Probably to run the department.” Sure enough, in ten years I had the director position and I’ve been here since.

DL: What is it about the job you like?

DW: Um hum. It’s a… I think… I’m trying to think. There are so many things. I think the number one is that you know you get to meet people and you know just… Like when I take a break and go out on the floor and visit my officers and just greet guests and talk to them and… Most of the time they’ll come up to me and ask, “Are you from this tribe?” and you know Native Indian questions about, “What tribe are you? Do you know the language?” all that stuff. I always end up talking to them for like an hour or whatever you know and then I come back up here. I don’t know, it’s fun.

Oral History- Interview | Narrator Deborah White Interviewer Deborah Locke in Welch, MN | Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society. U.S. - Dakota War of 1862. In ten years I had the director position and I’ve been here since May 21, 2024.

Viewpoints: All viewpoints expressed on this website are those of the contributors, and are not representative of the Minnesota Historical Society.