The Prairie Island Indian Community faces a trifecta of threats that have forever transformed the Tribe and impact the health and safety of Tribal members every day.
These threats are the result of the federal government failing in its constitutional requirement to protect the interests and people of Prairie Island. As a result of the federal government’s failures, Prairie Island Tribal Councils have worked diligently to address the ever-present trifecta of threats
In 1938, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built Lock and Dam No. 3 just downstream from the reservation, permanently flooding a portion of the original reservation, including burial mounds, and increasing the flooding risk for the remainder of the land.
Congress never authorized the illegal taking and destruction of our land, nor compensated the Tribe for the loss. But it wasn’t just land that was lost. We also lost access to the native foods and medicines that grew on the land, and cultural assets, including burial mounds. To this day, our remaining reservation land is more susceptible to flooding because of the government’s actions.
The Prairie Island Indian Community is the closest community in the nation to a nuclear power plant, and now a nuclear waste storage site, too.
Just as the federal government ignored the Tribe when it flooded our lands, it once again looked the other way when the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant was approved and licensed. The nuclear plant, which began operating in 1973, sits less than 700 yards from the reservation.
Over the Tribe’s persistent objections, nearly 1,000 tons of highly toxic spent nuclear fuel is stored next to our reservation. While the nuclear waste storage was intended to be temporary, it is unlikely to leave Prairie Island anytime soon. With no progress being made by the federal government toward fulfilling its obligation to move the nuclear waste to a national repository, the temporary storage site is expected to more than double in size in the coming years.
If the first two threats weren’t enough, our only reliable evacuation route off Prairie Island is blocked by trains at a busy railroad crossing several times each day. The trains, which are increasing in length and speed, often carry hazardous materials, including crude oil.
Fortunately, because of the Tribe’s persistence, action is being taken to address this threat. The state, along with the City of Red Wing, which maintains the road, has approved construction of an overpass that, once completed, will provide a more reliable evacuation route off Prairie Island.
Expansion of Non-Tribal Gaming
The Prairie Island Indian Community is opposed to any expansion of non-tribal gambling in Minnesota. Minnesota already has a mature market with numerous gambling options across the state and a proven infrastructure to safely and securely regulate existing gambling. There’s room to offer new opportunities, such as sports betting, within that existing infrastructure. Expanding non-tribal gaming will take away resources that allow tribal governments to provide employment, vital programs, and support to rural communities.
Tribal communities have worked hard to establish and grow gaming operations that benefit tribal members, surrounding communities, and the state. Any expansion of non-tribal gaming would harm rural economies and damage existing businesses.
The Prairie Island Indian Community supports efforts to strengthen tribal governments and enhance government-to-government relationships. Protecting and preserving our inherent right to self-govern is our highest priority. Tribal sovereignty is not a new concept – it is a retained right that existed long before European settlers came to this country, and the U.S. Constitution, courts, and Congress protect that right. We work tirelessly at the state and federal levels to defend our rights and hold governments accountable for their responsibilities and obligations to tribal nations.
Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW)
MMIW USA’s number one mission is to bring our missing home and help the families of the murdered cope and support them through the process of grief. We give them hands-on support and guidance and if we don’t have the answers, we get the answers so that these families do not feel abandoned and alone in this struggle like so many have before them. Our broader goal is to eradicate this problem so that the future generations thrive. We are doing that through education of the threats that they face and self-defense. We just started a monthly program to do just that. It is called Staying Sacred and we educate and have self-defense lessons at every meeting. Our strength lies in the fact that every single one of the staff and volunteers have been assaulted or trafficked and our passion is to be the kind of organization that we needed growing up and beyond.
Understand Native Minnesota
Understand Native Minnesota is a multifaceted strategic initiative and philanthropic campaign focused on Native American narrative change in Minnesota’s schools. This campaign aims to improve public attitudes toward Native Americans by incorporating greater awareness and sensitive treatment of Native Americans, along with accurate information about their history, culture, and modern tribal governments into Minnesota’s K-12 education system.