Prairie Island plans cannabis grow operation on land it owns in Ravenna Township


Prairie Island Indian Community is putting a cannabis growing operation on 13 acres of land it owns at Hwy. 316 and 200th Street in Ravenna Township. A Treasure Island Casino sign now sits on the property.
Representatives of the PIIC plan to attend a Ravenna Township Board meeting May 9 to lay out plans for the property it has owned since 1992. Ravenna Township officials were invited to a meeting that was held Tuesday, April 16 at the Tribal Council Chambers in Welch.
Prairie Island Government Relations Specialist Blake Johnson said Monday afternoon that cannabis grown on the site will be sold at a new dispensary PIIC is opening near Treasure Island Resort & Casino.
“The property has been in Prairie Island’s possession for more than 30 years. It has sat vacant, and the opportunity that has arisen is being able to diversify our economy and look at different business ventures that could bring in more revenues for the government. So, with the legislation that passed last year Prairie Island looked at the opportunity, at how it can integrate into the tribe’s operations. We first looked at the dispensary, which will be located next to the casino,” said Johnson. “What arises from that was having product available, and we didn’t see that there’d be much product around until a while down the road.”
The site is located almost exactly halfway between downtown Hastings and the casino.
“We looked at all the different properties we had, and this property is well-suited for this. It’s private land that is close to power and had enough acreage to allow for a cultivation site for this business,” said Johnson.
Plans show up to five 12,500-15,000-square-foot buildings and 2.5 acres for outdoor cultivation.
“We’re looking at an area for outdoor grow and the potential of five facilities including indoor growing, maintenance and storage, production and processing,” said Johnson.
He said finally facility planning is underway while site work gets underway.
“We’re moving, but I think the piece that is still out there is that these aren’t final plans. We’re in the process of developing the final plans, so things could be tweaked or changed a little bit,” said Johnson.
The first plants from the operation, however, will be harvested this year.
“Our goal is to be able to start the outdoor grow this year,” Johnson said.
The site will be very secure, with 24/7 security at the gate, cameras on the perimeter and in each building.
“When we looked at this development, security was a top priority for us,” Johnson said.
The site will be fenced, and anyone who enters the premises must go through a licensing process with the PIIC.
“Nobody can just walk onto the property. Regulation is governed by a commission that oversees and can approve, deny or revoke a license to be able to enter the property. Everybody that goes on the property has to be licensed and approved through our commission and our regulatory body,” Johnson said.
In conjunction with the new store, the operation provides a lot of economic opportunity.
“I think it gives an opportunity for not only our tribal members but for the region. We’re the biggest employer in Goodhue County, and we want to contribute more to that, and this opportunity creates more jobs and more revenue not only for Prairie Island but for the area,” said Johnson.
PIIC representatives visited neighboring property owners in recent weeks to explain the project.
“One thing we did before we started moving dirt, we did go down around to each house that was either visible or right next to the property and spoke with the neighbors to keep them informed, because we want to be good neighbors. We want to be able to have a relationship where we can have discussions and make sure everybody understands and everybody’s on the same page,” Johnson said.
Last week, PIIC announced the plans for the new cannabis dispensary at Treasure Island. The new business venture will open next to Dakota Station, Prairie Island’s convenience store and gas station adjacent to Treasure Island Resort and Casino.
The new venture is called Island Peži (pay-zhee, meaning grass). Initially, it will sell product grown by other Native American-owned facilities until its locally grown product is ready to sell.
A release from Prairie Island Indian Community states:
“Island Peži’s anticipated entry into the cannabis industry will create another avenue of economic diversification for PIIC and develop opportunities for the Tribe's members for generations to come.
“As a sovereign nation, PIIC has enacted its own Cannabis Regulatory Ordinance, which authorizes a comprehensive licensing and regulatory system to regulate cannabis within its jurisdiction. The Tribe is committed to the highest standards of operation through its Cannabis Regulatory Commission. It is similar to the function of the State’s licensing and regulatory system for the broader Minnesota market, which is slated to open in early 2025.”
Said Prairie Island Tribal Council President Grant Johnson, “Island Peži is a step forward in our efforts to diversify our economy and strengthen our Tribe's long-term financial sovereignty. We’re excited to be among the first to enter the cannabis market and create new opportunities for the future of our Tribe.”