The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is accepting public comments through Feb. 10 on an environmental assessment involving 125 acres of land at the Lower Sioux Agency, a history center near Morton in southwest Minnesota.

Under the proposal, the land would be removed from federal Land and Water Conservation Fund designation, so that it could be enrolled in trust for the benefit of the Lower Sioux Indian Community.

As part of the process, an environmental assessment must be prepared and submitted to the National Park Service. The DNR is coordinating this process on behalf of the Minnesota Historical Society, which has co-managed the Lower Sioux Agency history center, along with the tribe.

The historical society intends to convey portions of the Lower Sioux Agency to the Lower Sioux Indian Community. The conversion was authorized by the state legislature in 2017. The site is located along County State Aid Highway 2 in Redwood County. 

The Lower Sioux Agency history center and other sites, markers and museums in the Minnesota River Valley provide perspective on the U.S. Dakota War of 1862.

Since 2009, the historical society and Lower Sioux Indian Community have had a partnership that has resulted in more opportunities for public engagement and has doubled attendance at the site. Following the proposed land conversion, the site would continue to be open to the public.

The historical society would remain actively engaged with the Lower Sioux Indian Community in preservation, interpretation and community outreach. The community has plans for year-round programming and expanding cultural reclamation efforts.

A copy of the environmental assessment is available online. Copies may be requested by calling (651) 259-5115. Written comments must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. Feb. 10, to the attention of Cynthia Novak-Krebs, project manager, Environmental Policy and Review Unit, DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN, 55155-4025. Electronic or e-mail comments may be sent to environmentalrev.dnr@state.mn.us with “Lower Sioux Agency” in the subject line. Written comments may also be sent by fax to (651) 296-1811.

– Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society