The Prairie Island Indian Community is a sovereign Indian tribe organized under the Indian Reorganization Act, 25 U.S.C. 476.
A sovereign tribe, such as the Community, has a government structure separate from both the state and federal governments.
The Community is governed by the Constitution and By-Laws of the Prairie Island Indian Community.
A 5-member Tribal Council is elected to uphold the Tribal Constitution and by-laws, by the tribal members in the community every two years.
Several committees also play a key role in decision making processes. Committees such as; Housing, Enrollment, and Education.
From left to right: Alan Childs II, Audrey Bennett, Ron Johnson, Johnny Johnson, Victoria Winfrey.
President – Johnny Johnson
President of the Prairie Island Tribal Council, Johnny Johnson has lived in and around Prairie Island his entire life. A veteran member, he is currently serving his seventh term on Tribal Council. During his last term, Johnson served 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 a former member of the Human Rights commission of Red Wing, MN, and previously sat on the boards for the Red Wing School Foundation and the Red Wing Hockey Association. He remains actively involved with the hockey program in the Red Wing area.
In his free time, Johnson enjoys spending time with his wife Terrie and their four children, Scott, Blake, Grant and Kennedy. He enjoys attending the kids’ sporting events, both playing and watching hockey, golfing, playing softball and spending time boating and jet skiing on the river. He has also been a baseball and softball coach for several years and loves to travel.
Vice President – Victoria Winfrey
Prairie Island Indian Community Tribal Council Vice President Victoria Winfrey brings many years of experience working in the Community to her position. She has played an active role in preserving and promoting the Tribe’s culture, overseeing the Community’s economic development initiatives, and has served on many Community committees.
Winfrey is currently serving her eighth term on Tribal Council and has previously held the titles of president, secretary, treasurer and assistant secretary/treasurer.
Winfrey’s goals for the current Tribal Council include planning for the Community’s future growth and pursuing the removal of nuclear waste from Prairie Island. In addition, a key priority will be to ensure the continued success and efficient operations at the Tribe’s enterprises, including Treasure Island Resort & Casino, Dakota Station and Mount Frontenac Golf Course. She places a heightened emphasis on open communications with all Tribal members to ensure their voices are included in the decision-making process.
Prior to her position on Tribal Council, Winfrey worked at Treasure Island Resort & Casino for 10 years. Her positions at Treasure Island included office manager, money room manager, where she assisted in preparing the casino’s monthly financial statements, and assistant general manager. She also previously worked for the Prairie Island Indian Gaming Commission.
Winfrey attended Haskell Indian Nations University and Penn Valley Community College, where she studied accounting. She and her husband of 27 years, Norman, have four children, Martin, Alexis, Brandon and Anna, and reside on the Upper Island addition of the Prairie Island Indian Community. In her time away from work, Winfrey enjoys bowling in a league, reading and devoting time to her children’s activities.
Secretary – Ron Johnson
Prairie Island Tribal Council Secretary Ronald Johnson is currently serving his fourth term. Johnson has previously served as vice president and assistant secretary/treasurer of the Tribal Council. Serving as spokesperson for the tribe, Johnson has testified before Congress on labor relations issues and is consistently quoted by the media.
Co-chair of the National Congress of American Indian’s Department of Homeland Security, Johnson also works with the state of Minnesota on Homeland Security to ensure tribal concerns are recognized.
Additionally, Johnson leads restoration efforts for the Prairie Island Indian Community regarding the transfer of Parcel D from the U.S. Army Corps. He also oversees the federally deputized Law Enforcement Department.
Johnson is involved in youth activities to promote the importance of education and developing future leaders within the Community. A Red Wing native, he previously worked as building and grounds manager of Treasure Island Resort & Casino.
He has an associate’s degree in marketing/management from a private college in Florida.
Johnson is an outdoorsman and enjoys spending time with his family, watching NASCAR and saltwater fishing. He and wife Kathy have two daughters, Hannah and Sheldon.
Treasurer – Alan Childs II
Prairie Island Indian Community Tribal Council Treasurer Alan Childs II is currently serving his fourth term on Tribal Council. Previously, Childs served as vice president, treasurer and assistant secretary/treasurer.
As a Tribal Council member, Childs hopes to bring accountability to Tribal government and to the programs that they offer to the Community. His goal is to ensure that dollars are most effectively and efficiently used in the best interest of all Tribal members.
Childs formerly held positions with the Prairie Island Indian Community Gaming Commission as both commissioner and executive director. As the executive director, Childs played a critical role in adopting the Tribe’s minimum internal control standards. Additionally, he has served on several Tribal committees, including the Donation, Pow Wow, Economic Development and enrollment committees.
Childs is also an award-winning singer and a member of the Prairie Island Singers. This champion group performs for traditional ceremonies and events.
As a lifelong participant in traditional Native American ways, Childs takes great pleasure in serving his Community by teaching Mdewakanton Dakota singing, dancing and language classes. By passing on his Tribe’s culture and traditions through education and civil service, Childs envisions the solidification of tribal government and the survival of Indian culture and tradition; not only for the Prairie Island Indian Community, but for all Indian people.
Childs is a member of the Hastings area YMCA board and has served on the board of the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, MN. He is a graduate of Forest Lake High School in Forest Lake, MN, and resides in Hastings with his three children, Teresa, Eron, and Alonna.
Asst. Secretary/Treasurer – Audrey Bennett
Assistant Secretary/Treasurer Audrey Bennett is currently serving her sixth term on the Prairie Island Indian Community’s Tribal Council; having first been elected to the five-member Tribal Council in 1997.
Audrey was the first woman elected as Prairie Island Tribal Council President and served 10 years in that role.
During her tenure on Tribal Council Audrey has effectively advocated for issues important to the Prairie Island Community and all Native Americans. She has met presidents, vice presidents, members of Congress, governors and members of the Minnesota state legislature, to name just a few, always ensuring the concerns of her community were heard.
In particular, Audrey has played an instrumental role in the ongoing fight against nuclear waste being stored near the Community’s reservation, representing the tribe in numerous national media appearances which brought a new perspective to this debate. Audrey also played a significant role in the first-ever Executive Order signed by Gov. Jesse Ventura reaffirming the government-to-government relationship between the state of Minnesota and the Indian Tribes.
In 2003, Audrey received the Wendell Chino Humanitarian Award presented by the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA). The award recognizes many of her accomplishments, including her commitment to peace, ease of suffering and injustice, fair governance and the advancement of inter-cultural understanding.
Audrey especially enjoys working with young people and considers the involvement of youth in native traditions essential to ensuring the community’s future is rich in culture. She encourages young people to participate in politics and tribal government and to interact frequently with tribal elders.
Prior to serving on Tribal Council, Audrey represented Prairie Island as a government relations specialist, working to protect the tribe’s rights and interests before the Minnesota state legislature and the federal government. Audrey has remained very active in politics, working across party lines to improve outreach and increase voter participation especially among Southeast Asian, Somali and Native American voters.
Audrey has been actively involved in and sat on a number of boards of Indian organizations including the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association and the National Indian Gaming Association. She is also President of the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council and is a former chair of the National Intertribal Public Relations Network.
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 Administrative Assistant:
* Tribal Members should contact Tribal Council Secretary Ron Johnson 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.
All correspondence for the Tribal Court should be sent to:
Prairie Island Tribal Court
5636 Sturgeon Lake Road
Welch, Minnesota 55089
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
Tribal Court Forms
Family Court Forms
- Adoption of Indian Child
- Affidavit to Default Maintenance Judgment
- Agreement End Indian Parent Rights
- Declaration for Child Custody & Visitation
- Financial Declarations
- Appointment Guardian Ad Litem
- Appointment Minor’s Council
- Grandparent Visitation
- Income & Expense Declaration
- Joint Petition for Child Support
- Motion for Modification of Child Support Order
- Notice Motion & Motion Modify Child Custody Order
- Notice to Entry & Docketing Maintenance Judgment
- Notice to Obligor of Medical Support Enforcement
- Petition for Adoption
- Petition for Child Support
- Petition for DNA Test
- Petition for Appointment of Permanent Guardianship
- Petition to Establish Parental Relationship
- Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
- Response to Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
- Response to Petition to Establish Parental Relations
General Court Forms
- Affidavit In Forma Pauperis
- Notice of Motion
- Affidavit of No Answer and Motion for Default Judgment
- Affidavit of Personal Service
- Petition for Change of Name
- Affidavit of Service
- Proof of Default Judgment
- Application and Declaration for Temporary Restraining Order
- Proof of Service
- Certificate of Service
- Proof of Service Facsimile
- Civil Subpoena
- Proof of Service Mail
- Claim of Exemption
- Proof of Personal Service
- Proof of Service Summons
- Garnishment Debtor’s Answer
- Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis
Judgment Creditors Court Forms
Legal Representation Court Forms
- Alcohol and Controlled Substance
- Building Code
- Cigarette Ordinance
- Civil Commitment Ordinance
- Code of Ethics
- Conduct Ordinance
- Curfew Ordinance
- Data Privacy Ordinance
- Dog and Animal Control Ordinance
- Election Ordinance
- Equal Employment and Indian Preference Ordinance
- Firearm Ordinance
- Flood Damage and Prevention Ordinance
- Food Service Ordinance
- Gaming Ordinance
- Guardianship Ordinance
- Homesite Assignment Ordinance
- Judicial Code Title 1: Courts
- Judicial Code Title 2: Rules of Civil Procedure
- Judicial Code Title 3: Domestic Relations
- Judicial Code Title 4: Commercial Code
- Judicial Code Title 4: Rules of Appellate Procedure
- Judicial Code Title 5: Corporations and Tribal Entities
- Liquor Control Ordinance
- Probate Ordinance
- Recreational Motor Vehicle Safety Ordinance
- Referendum Ordinance
- Tribal Right to Work Ordinance
- Sales and Use Tax Ordinance
- Sanitation Code
- Tobacco Ordinance
- Traffic Ordinance
- Trespass Notice Procedures
- Water and Wastewater Ordinance
- Worker’s Compensation Ordinance