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In-House Counsel: Jessie Stomski Seim

Law is a common enough second career, but few lawyers have Jessie Seim’s professional background.
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation member and University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate played pro basketball in the U.S. and Europe for several years before enrolling at William Mitchell School of Law in the mid-2000s. After graduating, in 2008, she took on a broad-spectrum commercial law practice at Minneapolis-based Briggs and Morgan, P.A., then represented Indian tribes as outside counsel at St. Paul-based Hogen Adams PLLC.
In December 2015, Seim officially took over as general counsel for the Prairie Island Indian Community, a small tribe based in the shadow of the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant, northeast of Red Wing.
With help from “a great team of inside lawyers” and a stable of outside attorneys, Seim oversees a vast portfolio of commercial and government interests. “My job involves a lot of quarterbacking,” said Seim. “[My playing days] really laid the groundwork for what I’m doing today.”
As in-house counsel for a sovereign nation, Seim’s office is the tribe’s point of contact with outside commercial and government interests, such as the Minnesota state legislature, state executive branch agencies, and the federal government. Seim also oversees the tribe’s commercial activities, including its crown jewel, Treasure Island Resort and Casino.
“The name of the game is variety,” said Seim.
Seim just wrapped up a 1,100-acre land acquisition for the tribe. The spread, near the southeastern Minnesota community of Pine Island, is a critical addition for a land-poor community beset by decades of environmental injustice (including a devastating federal lock-and-dam project that flooded part of the community’s original grant) and housing woes.
Seim is also leading lobbying efforts for a $45 million state appropriation to make Prairie Island one of the first carbon net-zero tribes in the nation. Last year, former Gov. Dayton vetoed the budget omnibus containing the appropriation, but Seim has high hopes for this legislative session.
“I got into Indian law because I wanted to work every day to improve life for people who’ve been struggling for centuries,” she said.

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