Tribal Council

From left to right front row – Nicci Lehto (Secretary), Shelley Buck (President), Lucy Taylor (Vice President)

From left to right back row – Melanie Urich (Asst. Secretary/Treasurer), Johnny Johnson (Treasurer)

Shelley Buck

President - Shelley Buck

President – Shelley Buck
President Shelley Buck is serving her fourth term on the Prairie Island Tribal Council and second 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, Constitution Revision and Enrollment committees.
Buck has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Accounting from Indiana University, a Master’s Degree in Sports Management from Concordia University, and is currently working on a 2nd Master’s Degree in Tribal Indian Law from University of Tulsa.
She is currently serving on the board of The Minnesota Wild Foundation, and the Great River Passage Initiative in St. Paul. She has also served as a board member of the Native Vote Alliance of Minnesota. Most recently she was elected Vice Chair of Minnesota Indian Affairs Council.
A native of Indiana, Buck has lived in Minnesota for thirteen years and has two daughters, Kachina and Sage. In her spare time, Buck enjoys playing and watching sports, helping out at the community schools 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 ninth 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 parent’s names 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 named Ellen Elizabeth Jacobson and son named Cole Michael L. Jacobson. She is married to her wife, Sheila Lewis, and has two step-children – Brittany and Erik – and last, but not least, a Grandson named Ayce.

Nicci Lehto

Secretary - Nicci Lehto

Secretary – Nicci Lehto
Secretary Nicci Lehto is proudly serving her first term on Prairie Island Tribal Council. Lehto has personified her Indian name Máza Wíŋyaŋ (Iron Woman) in all her past endeavors as she fearlessly pursued opportunities to advocate and advance the Tribe and Indian Country from coast to coast – a principle she plans to continue to work for through her role on Tribal Council.
Prior to serving on Tribal Council, Lehto served as the federal government relations specialist for Prairie Island Indian Community where she protected and helped progress the Tribe’s issues in Washington, D.C. Prior to that, she served as the national entertainment buyer for Treasure Island Resort & Casino and in 2001 she founded Four Winds Entertainment – the first native-woman owned boutique entertainment buying firm, designed to help tribes advance their businesses under fair terms. As a member of a tribe who owns a casino, she understands all too well that successful Native businesses are not only essential for a tribe’s prosperity, but for the progression of Native American people.
Lehto studied mass communications and entertainment at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and Middle Tennessee State University. She also participated in the Writer’s Program at UCLA.
Today, she continues to serve as the owner and president of Four Winds Entertainment. She is happily engaged to the love of her life, enjoys spoiling her pet dog and cat and treasures spending time with family and friends. In her free time Lehto enjoys traveling, golf, cooking and wine tasting, writing, music, sports and volunteering.

Johnny Johnson

Treasurer - Johnny Johnson

Treasurer – Johnny Johnson
Treasurer Johnny Johnson is serving his 12th term on Prairie Island Tribal Council and second consecutive term as treasurer. 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 high school. 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 in his new RV.

Melanie Urich

Assistant Secretary/Treasurer - Melanie Urich

Assistant Secretary/Treasurer – Melanie Urich
Assistant Secretary/Treasurer Melanie Urich is serving her first term on Prairie Island Tribal Council. Prior to being elected, Urich was the legal administrative assistant for the Prairie Island Indian Community. Previously, she was employed with the U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Minerals Management Service; as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service. Urich was an equal employment opportunity specialist and a Native American program manager. She is an advocate for minorities, a liaison between intergovernmental authorities, and an environmental steward.
Urich has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of South Dakota (USD) for which she graduated cum laude. During her educational experience, she volunteered for the American Indian Oral History Project, was president of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, USD Chapter, and was a mentor to American Indian students. Urich was awarded a congressional internship with the Morris K. Udall Native American Internship Program where she was selected based on outstanding academic achievements and served in Washington, D.C.
Melanie Urich is married to husband Ron and has two children, Stella and Tim. She enjoys spending time with five generations of family including 11 grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and her father Fred Urich, the second oldest elder of our Tribal Community.
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 Nicci Lehto 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