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Prior Lake High School student shines on PBS' 'SciGirls'

During the Laker Pride portion of the Prior Lake-Savage Area School Board meeting on Monday, May 8, Prior Lake High School student Sienna Thin Elk was recognized for her role in the Emmy-award-winning PBS television series, “Sci Girls.”

According to PBS, “SciGirls” explores and encourages girls (and boys) in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Superintendent Michael Thomas said he had the chance to meet Sienna Thin Elk and her family during the 38th annual Minnesota Indian Education Association Conference held at Mystic Lake Event Center last month and said he was very impressed with how Native people used the stars to teach astronomy.

“I’ve been to many conferences over my years and you hope that you walk out of them with something new and inspiring that could really help you,” Thomas said. “This is one of those sessions where I had the opportunity to witness Sienna along with two of her peers really speak about their experiences in the hard sciences being a Native individual. It was very impressive to understand how impactful their work has been to so many that it has been picked up by PBS.”

Sienna said it was a great learning experience to participate in a television show where she got the opportunity to speak about her culture.

“It was really nice because it’s not often I get to participate in such things and talk about my culture. I don’t really get to participate with other Native people my age, so, it was really great,” Sienna said. “Although I knew most of the stuff we talked about in the episode, I know other people probably wouldn’t have known. It was nice to share that knowledge with others and that they know what I believe in and what my people used to believe in and how that relates with science today. I just hope it’s good for younger Native kids, especially to see representation in the science field.”

In the episode, “SciGirls in Space: Dakota Stars,” three Native Minnesota girls, including Sienna, learn how modern science connects to the star knowledge their Dakota ancestors passed down. The girls also celebrated their cultural heritage and channeled their passions for art and science by creating an art piece they shared with NASA.

Sienna also explained that the early Dakota people didn’t write things down but instead passed down things to younger generations through oral history and also through bead work. She also said the early Dakota people were very scientific and systematic in how they observed the night sky.

To view the SciGirls in Space: Dakota Stars episode, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHFEiANbiqM

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New Brighton man charged in six-hour standoff with Prior Lake police

Anwar Abdullahi Ali

A New Brighton man is facing four charges after he was allegedly involved in a domestic assault incident involving a weapon in Prior Lake on Sunday, May 7.

Charges were filed in Scott County on Tuesday for Anwar Abdullahi Ali, 32, who was charged with three felonies including terroristic threats with a reckless disregard risk; fleeing in a motor vehicle; intentional discharge of a firearm, endangering safety; and a gross misdemeanor of carrying a pistol without a permit in a public place. He could face up to five years in prison for the terroristic threats and firearm discharge charges, if convicted.

Ali will continue to be detained at the Scott County Detention Center pending further proceedings.

According to the criminal complaint:

On Sunday, May 7, around 1:15 p.m., the Prior Lake Police Department received a report of an “irate” man on the 17000 block of Adelmann St. SE in Prior Lake. A woman, who was identified as the victim, reported Ali was allegedly drunk and possibly had a weapon.

The woman told police Ali was the father of her children. After arriving at the scene, an officer observed Ali in the hallway of the apartment complex and ordered him to stop. Ali allegedly fled the scene on foot.

The officer spoke to the victim who reported that Ali texted her saying he was going to come see his children and take them. Ali allegedly later called her on Facetime telling her he was coming over to get the children and showed her a nearby construction zone, proving he was on his way. Ali allegedly then held a gun up in the air in view of the Facetime call.

The woman was afraid of what Ali would do when he arrived so she called 911 prior to his arrival. When Ali arrived, he was allegedly yelling and screaming at her as he was taking the children. Ali then told the woman that “anything could happen,” according to the report.

After the incident occurred, officers continued to look for Ali in the area for approximately two hours. Shortly thereafter, officers received a tip from a concerned citizen that Ali allegedly got into a vehicle in the area.

The complaint then states that a Scott County deputy used his vehicle to block Ali’s driving path. The deputy said he locked eyes with Ali, who allegedly accelerated. The deputy then activated his emergency lights and began pursuit. Ali allegedly continued fleeing, traveling approximately 60 miles per hour when the vehicle began to lose control and spun out in the ditch.

According to the report, Ali immediately fled and ran into the nearby wooded area. The deputy pursued, losing Ali as he entered the southwest corner of Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve. Additional officers arrived and set up a perimeter around the area.

After a Minnesota State Patrol helicopter responded to the area, officers allegedly heard a single gunshot from the area Ali was in the woods. Law enforcement backed out and waited for a SWAT team to arrive. After SWAT arrived, Ali was seen moving northwest and located near a residence on the northside of the tree line.

PLPD said imaging equipment was used to locate Ali, who surrendered peacefully at about 7:45 p.m., six hours after his first contact with police.

Deputies, using a firearm detection dog, allegedly located a Glock 17 pistol without a magazine and no round in the chamber after retracing Ali’s steps. Residue was found on the feed ramp, indicating the firearm had been fired.

In addition to the Scott County Sheriff’s Department and State Patrol, PLPD received assistance from Savage, Shakopee and Lakeville police, according to a press release.