The Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant sits just 600 yards from the border of the Prairie Island Indian Community in Minnesota. Highly radioactive nuclear waste is stored at the facility. Photo: Jonathunder

Prairie Island Indian Community welcomes homelands legislation

A bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives paves the way for the Prairie Island Indian Community to provide a safe and stable homeland for its people.

H.R.4752, the Prairie Island Indian Community Land Claim Settlement Act, essentially compensates the tribe for the flooding of its lands by the federal government. It authorizes the acquisition of a 1,244-acre site, further away from a nuclear power plant located next door to the existing reservation.

“We have been trying for years to solve the issues that are the direct result of federal actions: the flooding of our lands and the storage of hazardous nuclear waste next to our homes," President Shelley Buck said in a press release. "This legislation addresses our health and safety concerns and offers us a safer future free from these dangerous threats.”

The bill does not contain any restrictions on the 1,244-acre site that would be placed in trust. The property -- known as Elk Run -- would be considered "settlement lands," according to the text of H.R.4752.

Under Section 20 of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, that would mean the land could be used for a casino. The tribe, however, plans to use the site for housing and other types of development.

“Adding the Elk Run property to our reservation land base has deep meaning to our people,” Buck said in a press release from the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, a state body of which she serves as vice chair. “Most importantly, it provides us with a safe alternative homeland, something that is crucial to righting the historical and current wrongs committed against Prairie Island.”

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources. A hearing has not been scheduled.

Read More on the Story
Tribe's move to Pine Island is one step closer New bill introduced into Congress to replace damaged tribal (KMIT October 24, 2019)
Bill would add Prairie Island land into federal trust (The Rcohester Post-Bulletin October 23, 2019)
Bill aims to add 1200 acres of land to Prairie Island Indian Community (Fox 9 October 23, 2019)
'A huge step forward': Minnesota commissioners take historic tribal relations training (The Duluth News Tribune October 7, 2019)
Minnesota lawmakers get cultural, historical lesson at Prairie Island Indian Community (Forum News Service October 5, 2019)

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