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Redwood Falls Gazette - Redwood Falls - MN
  • Lower Sioux tribal council addresses federal lawsuit

  • In the 1850s, a treaty signed between the United States and members of the Mdewakanton tribe in Minnesota established what is known as the Lower Sioux community and its homeland in the Redwood area; initially, the commitment to the tribe was for a 10-mile wide strip of land on either side of the Minnesota River....
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  • In the 1850s, a treaty signed between the United States and members of the Mdewakanton tribe in Minnesota established what is known as the Lower Sioux community and its homeland in the Redwood area. Initially, the commitment to the tribe was for a 10-mile wide strip of land on either side of the Minnesota River, but over time that land was taken away from them. It was in 1934, as part of the Indian Reorganization Act, when the current Lower Sioux community reservation, which is made up of just over 1,700 acres, was established. Now it is facing loss of the land it still retains, and this time it is not the government who is attempting to take it away. A lawsuit was recently filed in Federal District Court in Minnesota on behalf of the descendants of a small group of Dakota Indians. The lawsuit seeks to take 12 square miles of land in Redwood, Renville and Sibley counties from dozens of lawful landowners, including the Lower Sioux Community. If successful, the Lower Sioux Community, along with nearly 100 other residents of the area, would be removed from their homes and possibly required to pay damages to the plaintiffs for trespass. While various news outlets have referred to this group as the “Loyal Mde-wakanton” or the “Mde-wakanton Sioux Tribe,” Denny Prescott, president of the Lower Sioux Com-munity, along with the rest of the Lower Sioux Com-munity council, explained “these individuals are not a tribe, nor do they represent the interests or values of the Lower Sioux Community.”
    “We want to make it very clear that the Lower Sioux Com-munity council did not endorse this lawsuit, nor do we support it in any way,” Prescott added. “In fact, like many of our neighbors, we are defendants in the case. We will do what is necessary to protect our families, our homes and our land. “The Lower Sioux Community, along with everyone at our casino, Jackpot Junction, values the deep and lasting relationships that we have shared for many years with all of our neighbors – communities and individuals alike. We sincerely hope this lawsuit can be brought to a speedy and just resolution, so that we can all continue to enjoy the many blessings of this land we call home.” Members of the council said they had not heard much about the lawsuit until it had been filed and they read about it in newspapers. “We’re not sure what land they are specifically talking about,” said Gary Prescott, tribal council member, adding no map of the area outlined in the lawsuit has been provided to them. With land in three counties making up the description in the lawsuit, many entities and individuals have been listed as defendants, including the Lower Sioux Community. While the lawsuit lists the Lower Sioux by name, Denny Prescott said neither the council nor the community as a whole have officially been served in the lawsuit. Nonetheless, the council is already gathering information for the day when it is served, and that, added Denny Prescott, is going to mean significant expense for the community. Once the tribe is served, it has 30 days to respond in writing to the claims in the lawsuit. “We have no idea how long this is going to last,” added Denny Prescott, who along with other council members Robert Larsen, Justice Wabasha, Gary Prescott and Earl Pendleton, are taking this issue very seriously. The current lawsuit is different than one that had been filed several years ago, in that the previous suit had been filed against the U.S. government. This one has been filed against individuals and other entities who currently are living on the land addressed in the complaint. Denny Prescott stressed the council and the community as a whole are working hard to ensure the message gets out that they are not supporting this lawsuit, adding it is important for the community to get the word out to avoid any hard feelings to the 900-plus members of the community as well as the rest of the surrounding area.
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