The former chairman of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe died Sunday, the band reported. William Houle of Cloquet was 81.
The Duluth News Tribune reports that Houle was a key leader during the band’s early move into tribal gaming casinos. He chaired of the Fond du Lac Reservation Business Committee from 1974 to 1988. In 1986, Houle was involved in developing the Fond-du-Luth Casino in Duluth, working with city leaders to transform a former Sears store into a downtown casino. That casino, along with the band's Black Bear Casino, have funded tribal initiatives that Houle supported.
Houle was a founding member of the National Indian Gaming Association, including a stint as chairman. He retired from tribal government in 1988. He was also a U.S. Navy veteran who served during the Korean War.
Earlier this week, Marjorie Anderson, the first female leader of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, died. She was 81. Anderson led the Mille Lacs Band from 1991 to 2000, and was elected again in 2008.