The Prairie Island Indian Community (PIIC) is in negotiations with
the Friends of American Ski Jumping organization over plans by the
latter group to build an Olympic-style ski jump on the Communitys
Mount Frontenac near Red Wing.
Ski jump enthusiasts and Red Wing area boosters have been raising
money from private sources for the project. Heading into August,
organizers had raised $1.2 million and had another $1 million in
pledges for what is estimated to be a $6 million year-around ski
jump training and competition facility.
A second phase of development with more recreation venues and
concern facilities is also being considered.
Shelley Buck, president of the PIIC Tribal Council, said the
Community and ski jump group are still finalizing business arrangements
for the group to build on the Communitys land. But, she added,
We are excited to see the project moving forward and are encouraged
by the growing interest and support.
The idea for the ski jump facility came from the American Ski
Jumping Hall of Fame that is housed in the St. James Hotel in downtown
Red Wing. Norwegian immigrants started American ski jumping at Red
Wing in the 1880s on the bluffs above the Mississippi River.
Regardless how business ties between the groups are resolved,
the ski jump facility would expand PIICs activities in the
hospitality industry. The site is connected to the Mount Frontenac
Golf Course and its club house and event center, and is convenient
to PIICs Treasure Island Resort and Casino.
Buck said diversifying the Communitys economy is a top
Gaming has been a successful economic development tool
for our tribe and many other Native communities; its helped
us become self-sufficient and allowed us to share our success with
our neighbors, she said. But we dont want to bet
our future on gaming alone.
Prairie Islands economy is already one of Minnesotas
most diverse destination and entertainment attractions with gaming,
golf, water sports, bowling and concerts, Buck said. This
project would add exciting elements to what weve already created
and drive even more visits and positive impact to the region, she
Ski jump backers are estimating as many as 100,000 people may
be drawn to the site annually. Red Wing and Rochester newspapers
have stressed this would economically benefits communities throughout
The Hall of Fame inducted six new members in early August at
ceremonies at the golf club. A special guest at the Red Wing ceremony
was Steve Collins, a Canadian Olympian ski jumper who has family
ties to the PIIC.
Collins is a member of the Fort William First Nation near Thunder
Bay, Ont. Peter Collins, a first cousin of the skier, is the elected
chief of the Ojibwe First Nation. However, the Hall of Fame
notes on its website that a grandfather of the celebrated Canadian
Olympian was Charley Collings, a member of PIIC before migrating
More information about the American Ski Jumping Hall of Fame
and Museum is available at: americanskijumping.com
; the ski jump project is at baldy125.com,
and Prairie Island Indian Community at prairieisland.org.