Before and after graduating from the University of Minnesota Law School, Willie Hardacker worked for Native American attorney Kurt Bluedog and began learning about federal tribal law.
In 1995 he became the in-house counsel for one of the firm’s clients, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community tribal government. Although not Native American, he found his passion and today oversees legal issues involving the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux and its business holdings.
“At this point in my career, I see my main goal of mine as continuing to change the narrative of how tribes are viewed in the broader community,” he said. “Indian tribes really deserve a place of greater stature in our communities.”
Hardacker led a 2012 deal the tribe made with Canterbury Park that thwarted a plan to introduce video slot machines at the race track. The tribe agreed to pay Canterbury $84 million to increase horse racing purses and to market their attractions jointly.
The move stopped the expansion of gaming “and “brought peace to the valley and been beneficial for the tribe, Canterbury and all the other tribes in Minnesota,” he said.
Recently Hardacker has fought the Minnesota Gambling Control Board’s approval of sophisticated electronic pull-tab games that mimic slot machines. The attorney, who is Hispanic, also developed a “diverse” staff of seven attorneys, five of them women.
In the community, he serves on the board of Coffeehouse Press and mentors University of St. Thomas law students. “I take away as much from these relationships with law students as I give,” he said.
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