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Tribal Partnership Program (TPP): Little Minnesota River Assessment of Fish Migration

Published Oct. 1, 2018
Updated: April 14, 2020

Fish, including freshwater walleye, have historically migrated up the Little Minnesota River, which runs through the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Lake Traverse Reservation. Spearfishing has always been a tradition in the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate culture. Unfortunately, in the last decade, fish migration up the Little Minnesota River has ceased, which is of great concern to the Sisseton Band of the Dakota. This study aims to determine the cause of the lack of migration and identify potential solutions.


The study area for this project is the Little Minnesota River between Big Stone Lake and the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Lake Traverse Reservation, which is approximately 200 miles northwest of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and 158 miles north of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The primary area of concern is located in Roberts County, South Dakota and just outside of Browns Valley, Minnesota in Traverse County and Big Stone County, Minnesota.


A thorough sampling analysis in 2018 and 2019 determined the cause of the lack of migration on the Little Minnesota River. Through close coordination with study partners potential solutions that would improve fish passage on the river have been analyzed and modeled. The results of the study have been detailed in a planning report.


Along with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, South Dakota Fish and Game and staff from the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-led project delivery team completed a detailed fish sampling analysis in summer 2018. The team is finalizing the report, which identifies and analyzes alternatives to improve fish migration in the Little Minnesota River.

The study will be completed in spring 2020 and will then be presented to the tribe and interested stakeholders. The project required to improve fish passage would not be located on tribal lands and thus cannot be constructed under the Tribal Partnership Program authority.


The Tribal Partnership Program (Section 203 of Water Resources Development Act 2000) authorizes activities related to the study, design and construction of water resources development projects substantially benefiting Native American tribes. The non-federal sponsor for this project is the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate.


Federal Funds Allocated to Date                     $250,000

Pursuant to Section 1156 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986, Public Law 99-662, as amended (33 U.S.C 2310), the non-federal cost share is waived up to $484,000.