Tribal Government

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.

Tribal Council

2014-2016 Tribal Council

From left to right: Lucy Taylor, Edward Buck, Johnny Johnson, Ronald Johnson, Shelley Buck.

President – Ronald Johnson

Prairie Island Tribal Council President Ronald Johnson is currently serving his fifth 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 SheldonTop

Vice President – Lucy Taylor


Secretary – Shelley Buck



Treasurer – Ed Buck


Asst. Secretary/Treasurer – Johnny Johnson

Assistant Secretary/Treasurer 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

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:

Deborah McCoy


* Tribal Members should contact Tribal Council Secretary Shelley Buck 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: 651-267-4008

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

Diane Benson


Tribal Court Forms

Family Court Forms

General Court Forms

Judgment Creditors Court Forms

Legal Representation Court Forms


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"Born of the Waters"
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