Prairie Island Indian Community invites all to celebrateThe Mdewakanton, "those who were born of the waters," have lived on Prairie Island for generations. The land on the Mississippi River is considered a spiritual place.
By: Ruth Nerhaugen, The Republican Eagle
The Mdewakanton, "those who were born of the waters," have lived on Prairie Island for generations. The land on the Mississippi River is considered a spiritual place.
In the early 1800s white settlers took much of the Minnesota territory, leaving the Dakota people a small reservation along the Minnesota River in western Minnesota. This resulted in the suppression of their native Dakota language, culture and religion for generations.
Starting in 1880, Mdewakanton families began to return to Prairie Island, buying back small parcels of their ancestral home. In 1936, the Prairie Island Indian Community was recognized by the federal government and 534 acres of the island became their reservation.
Economic hope returned to Prairie Island in 1984 with the opening of Treasure Island Bingo, which expanded a few years later into Treasure Island Casino, with slot machines and blackjack tables.
In 1996, the casino was remodeled and a hotel was added. Another expansion took place in 2000-01, and the hotel got a makeover in 2004. Another addition with more hotel rooms, event center and a bowling alley opened in 2008 .
According to tribal spokesmen, the Mdewakanton consider gaming the new buffalo because it has brought jobs and income, water and sewer plants, paved roads and a future.
Prairie Island community members celebrate their heritage with a traditional pow wow in mid-July, the Prairie Island Wacipi celebration.
Native Americans from across the country gather on the pow wow grounds adjacent to the casino to dance to the music created by traditional drum groups. Native crafts and foods add to the celebration of heritage. The public is welcome to attend.
The community also offers a sports complex with four diamonds for softball and baseball. That complex is busy from April through September.
For more information, go online to www.prairieisland.org.