Tribal Council

Tribal council
Top Row: Michael Childs Jr. (Asst. Secretary/Treasurer), Johnny Johnson (Secretary)
Bottom Row: Valentina Mgeni (Treasurer), Shelley Buck (President), Lucy Taylor (Vice President)

Shelley Buck

President - Shelley Buck
President – Shelley Buck
President Shelley Buck is serving her fifth term on Prairie Island Tribal Council and third term as president. Prior to being elected Tribal Council president, Buck held other positions within the Prairie Island Indian Community government, including Tribal Council secretary and assistant secretary/treasurer, enrollment clerk in the Prairie Island Enrollment Office and government relations specialist for the Tribe. She has also served on the Pow Wow and Constitution Revision Committees.
Buck has a bachelor’s degree in business accounting from Indiana University and a master’s degree in sports management from Concordia University. She is currently working on a second master’s degree in tribal Indian law from the University of Tulsa.
Buck currently serves on the boards of the Minnesota Wild Foundation, the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce, and the Great River Passage Conservancy in St. Paul. She also served on the Native Vote Alliance of Minnesota board and, most recently, was elected vice-chair of the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council.
A native of Indiana, Buck has lived in Minnesota for 14 years and has two daughters – Kachina and Sage. In her spare time, Buck enjoys playing and watching sports, and hanging out and traveling with her daughters and friends.

Lucy Taylor

Vice President - Lucy Taylor
Vice President – Lucy Taylor
Vice President Lucy “Lu” Taylor is serving her 10th term on Prairie Island Tribal Council. Taylor’s first term on Tribal Council was in 1984 where she served as secretary. After her first term, she worked for the Tribe as the Indian Child Welfare worker for seven years. Throughout the years since, she has served terms as assistant secretary/treasurer, secretary, treasurer and vice president of the Tribal Council.
Taylor was born in Redwood Falls, Minnesota and was raised on the Prairie Island Indian Reservation. She is the oldest of eight children, with four sisters and three brothers. Her parents are Howard Albert Taylor Sr. and Carol Ann Dow. Taylor is a full-blood Mdewakanton Dakota as her parents and both sets of grandparents are descendants of the Sioux Uprising.
Taylor went to school in Red Wing until the 10th grade, when she went to live with relatives in St. Paul. She graduated from Washington High School in 1978 and from the College of St. Catherine in 1983 with a degree in social work.
Taylor has a daughter, Ellen Elizabeth Jacobson, and son, Cole Michael L. Jacobson. She is married to her partner, Sheila Lewis, and has two step-children, Brittany and Erik; and, last, but not least, she has a grandson, Ayce, and a granddaughter, Iyla.

Valentina Mgeni

Treasurer - Valentina Mgeni
Treasurer – Valentina Mgeni
Treasurer Valentina Mgeni is serving her first term on the Prairie Island Tribal Council. She ran for Council because she saw an opportunity to bring a fresh perspective to the Prairie Island government.
Prior to being elected to Tribal Council, Mgeni worked for 12 years in the Tribe’s Finance department as a staff accountant. Mgeni’s been active in the Community, serving on The Enrollment and Pow Wow Committees, the Election Board and Green Team.
Mgeni holds an associate’s degree in business administration from Globe University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in accounting from National American University.
Mgeni grew up on St. Paul’s Eastside and lives in Maplewood with her husband, Rahkmon. They have four daughters (Monica, Marissa, Mahalia, Maia) and two sons (Rahkmon II and Alex), and are grandparents to seven granddaughters (Mah-Leigha, Jayciana, Milliana, Addyson Mae, Myla, Mni and Leilani). Mgeni likes to spend time with family, crafting, and cheering on our Minnesota sports teams.

Johnny Johnson

Secretary - Johnny Johnson
Secretary – Johnny Johnson
Secretary Johnny Johnson is serving his 13th term on Prairie Island Tribal Council. Prior to serving on Tribal Council, Johnson served as education director for the Prairie Island Indian Community for seven years. In this role, Johnson achieved a marked increase in the graduation rate for the Tribe’s high-school students. During his tenure, Johnson saw the formation of summer school, driver’s education, GED and North Dakota Independent Studies programs as well as tutoring services. These programs and services have been very successful among Community members.
Johnson is currently serving on the board of directors for the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minnesota and is a former member of the Human Rights commission of Red Wing, Minnesota. He previously sat on the boards for the Red Wing School Foundation and the Red Wing Hockey Association and remains actively involved with the hockey program in the Red Wing area today.
Johnny Johnson has lived in and around Prairie Island his entire life. In his free time, Johnson enjoys spending time with his wife Terrie, their four children, Scott, Blake, Grant and Kennedy, and his grandchildren. He enjoys attending youth sporting events, watching hockey, golfing, playing softball and traveling.

Michael Childs Jr.

Asst. Secretary/Treasurer - Michael Childs Jr.
Asst. Secretary/Treasurer – Michael Childs Jr.
Assistant Secretary/Treasurer Michael Childs Jr. is serving his first term on the Prairie Island Tribal Council. Childs ran for Tribal Council because he believes Community members have a responsibility to participate in and effective government that is open and transparent.
Childs previously served on the Tribe’s Business Committee, Election Board and Election Committee. He had a 14-year career at Xcel Energy nuclear power plant, where he worked as an instrument and control specialist. He served as a technical consultant to Prairie Island during the relicensing of Xcel’s nuclear power plant in 2008.
Child’s earned an associate degree in computer and consumer electronics from Northwestern Electronics Institute, an associate of arts from Inver Hills Community College, and a bachelor’s degree in automotive engineering technology with a minor in manufacturing engineering technology from Minnesota State University Mankato, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude.
Born in Minneapolis and living there until he was about 10, Childs finished growing up on Prairie Island. Childs’ father, the late Michael Childs, Sr., served on Prairie Island Tribal Council in the 1990s. His mother, Myra Childs, volunteered at schools by teaching Dakota culture and beading. Childs and his wife, Wendy, live in Welch. He has two daughters, Ally and Emmy, and two stepsons, Jaime and Dylan. Child’s loves animals and has three cats. He also has a lifelong passion for repairing cars and general fabrication and has two racecars that he will race occasionally. He enjoys volunteering, exercising and working outdoors.

The Prairie Island Mdewakanton Dakota Tribe holds an election every two years for positions on Tribal Council. The five-member Tribal Council maintain their positions for a two-year term. It is respectful of Mdewakanton Dakota culture to follow the proper protocol when looking to contact Tribal Council members.

All inquiries should be directed through Tribal Council’s Executive Assistant:

Jody Johnson 651-267-4062

*Tribal Members should contact Tribal Council Secretary Johnny Johnson at with inquiries.

Tribal & State Courts

Minnesota state courts have been fairly deferential toward Tribal courts and have even adopted a state law abstention doctrine for certain disputes that arise in Indian country. As the Minnesota Supreme Court indicated in Gavle v. Little Six, Inc., 555 N.W.2d 284 (Minn. 1996), abstention by a state court is appropriate when the exercise of state court jurisdiction would “undermine the authority of the tribal courts over Reservation affairs” or “infringe on the right of Indians to govern themselves.” A Tribe may also wish to assert aggressive jurisdiction over domestic relations matters especially involving its children both on and off the reservation that may implicate the Indian Child Welfare Act. Although tribal courts lack criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians the federal courts have recognized that tribal courts retain extensive authority to remove non-Indians from their territories.

Tribal Court

All correspondence for the Tribal Court should be sent to:

Prairie Island Tribal Court 5636 Sturgeon Lake Road Welch, Minnesota 55089 Fax: 651-267-4009

The Court consists of a Chief Judge, an Appellate Court, a Clerk of Court, Guardian ad Litem, and a Probation Officer. According to the Judicial Code of the Prairie Island Indian Community there are no Ex Parte communications allowed. If you have any questions or communications for the Court they should be directed to:

Clerk of Court Deb English 651-385-4161

Tribal Court Forms

Family Court Forms

General Court Forms

Judgment Creditors Court Forms

Legal Representation Court Forms