"When sculptors began a project to create life-size bronze statues of former Mohegan Tribal chiefs in 2003, the tribe's historian had this to say about the men who had led the Uncasville-based Indians over hundreds of years:
“Sometimes they were perfect and sometimes they were imperfect. Some were warriors and some were not. But what they always were was the best of their people at the time.”
That was Ralph Sturges, the Mohegans' 88-year-old chief for life, who died Monday at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital from complications of lung cancer. He was the perfect man to lead the tribe in its successful bid for federal recognition in 1994 and to guide its 1996 opening of Mohegan Sun, its hugely successful casino.
Chief Sturges was unfailingly kind, honest and had an incredible sense of humor. He was a man of his word, and it is legend that he sealed the deal with Trading Cove Associates, the tribe's original business partner in its federal recognition deal and casino, with a handshake.
He never wanted much, even when he was financially able to afford living lavishly. He lived all of his married life in his wife Ida's childhood home in a working-class neighborhood in New London."
Get the Story:
Editorial: 'The Best' Of His People
(The New London Day 10/3)
Ralph Sturges, 88, Mohegan Chief Helped Start Casino
(The New York Sun 10/3)
Mohegan Tribe - http://www.mohegan.nsn.us
Ralph Sturges, longtime Mohegan chief, dies