US Army Corps of Engineers
St. Paul District Website


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

Published Oct. 1, 2018
Updated: Sept. 18, 2019

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. These annual spearing events would help sustain the community during the often unpredictable spring months common to Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota. This tradition continues today when, every spring, tribal members will travel to the traditional spearing grounds to fish.

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.


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 now identifying and analyzing alternatives to determine a solution to the cessation of fish migration. The study will be completed in fall 2019.


The Corps entered into this project through the Tribal Partnership Program, which was authorized by Congress through Section 203 of the Water Resources Development Act of 2000, as amended. The Corps is authorized 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.