Skip to Main Content

Living with Floods--Ron Johnson

As told by Ron Johnson
Prairie Island Dakota Community, Minnesota

Story Narrative:

Living in the flood plain is not easy. In 1938, the Army Corp of Engineers built a dam that flooded most of the community's usable land, including burial mounds. Ron Johnson describes how floods will affect the tribe and why they continue to live on the land.

This story was collected as part of a collaborative effort to record the state of American lakes, rivers, and waterways as well an attempt to uncover what water means to Americans. Listen to other stories recorded by the Minnesota Humanities Center for their We Are Water MN initiative, an outgrowth of our national traveling exhibition "Water/Ways."  

"So we have been challenged as a tribe. We were forced into the flood plains we lived during high water. Most of our land does flood. We are at the 500-year flood, if we get 1,000 500 would really hurt us it would really put us, 100 year would hurt us. We did have that 500 year in ’65 and all of this was under water but that shows you how important the water is to us. We could have pulled up and left, we could have went to DC and asked Congress to relocate this tribe but we chose to stay here."

Media Files: