The Mille Lacs Band Assembly met at the District II Assisted Living Unit in Minisinaakwaang (East Lake) on December 13. Executive Director Matt Roberson provided an update on the Department of Athletic Regulation.
The Department of Athletic Regulation licenses combatants, trainers, managers, matchmakers, ringside physicians, and officials, and also regulates combative sports on the Mille Lacs Reservation according to the rules and regulations of the Department. It is a member of the National Association of Boxing Commissions and International Association of Combative Sports Commissions.
Matt introduced himself to the new members and talked about the Department’s involvement in bringing 90 Minnesota youth to Toronto last year for the North American Indigenous Games. He also shared his plan to work with Jim Ingle of the District I fitness center to create a Team Minnesota organization for Elders and youth.
Matt said the department is regulating shows for the Leech Lake Band and is also working with White Earth and Jackpot Junction. The department is also looking into hosting an amateur kickboxing show at Meshakwad Community Center in Hinckley.
Matt is a member of the Wichita tribe who serves on the tribal council. He was also named to the 2017 40 under 40 list for influential young Native Americans and is a recipient of the American Express Next Gen leadership fellowship.
”I’m thankful to the Mille Lacs Band for the opportunities that have come my way,” he said.
Scholarship policy reconsidered
The Assembly also heard from Commissioner of Education Rick St. Germaine and Executive Director Joyce Shingobe about the Band’s scholarship policy.
A Secretarial Order from August of 2017 signed by the previous Secretary-Treasurer, Carolyn Beaulieu, limited scholarships to Mille Lacs Band members, reversing a longstanding policy that allowed direct descendants to apply for scholarships. Secretary-Treasurer Beaulieu explained the decision by pointing out declines in business revenue and increases in Band membership.
Secretary-Treasurer and Speaker of the Band Assembly Sheldon Boyd asked if the Representatives would like to request that he rescind the order. Representative Marvin Bruneau said, ”I would like to see it go away. There’s a benefit to all Band members. Even if they aren’t enrolled members, they are part of the family.”
Sheldon agreed. ”If there’s anything we should be spending money on it’s education,” he said. ”I’d like to replace the words ’descendants’ and ’enrolled’ with the words ’our children’.”
Mille Lacs Band scholarships are not intended to replace other forms of financial aid but to cover needs that are unmet by other forms of aid.
Executive Director Becky Houle of the Gaming Regulatory Authority presented her department’s year-end budget review. Commissioner of Finance Adam Valdez complimented Becky for coming in nearly $500,000 under budget last year.
Michael Davis made a request for a donation to McGregor Public Schools. The Band previously made donations to the school to help students with expenses like school supplies and extracurricular fees. The district has over 100 Native students, about 25 percent of the student body.
Michaa Aubid gave an update on attempts to hold the U.S. Bureau of Indian Education accountable for closing the school at Libby near Sandy Lake and destroying the school at Rice Lake when the Rice Lake community was forcibly removed to make room for a national wildlife refuge. ”The U.S. has a treaty obligation to build us a federal Indian school,” he said.
Chief Legislative Counsel Christine Jordan provided an update about ongoing revisions of statutes and policies. She said there are updates in the works to the child support and child protection statutes, the criminal code, the ethics code, personnel policies, and Title 21, Real and Personal Property.
Representative Marvin Bruneau said he would like more time to consider Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin’s nomination of Percy Benjamin to serve as Commissioner of Administration. Percy is currently the Commissioner of Community Development. Representative Wally St. John said he would like Percy to remain in his current role, praising him for his knowledge of housing and community development issues. ”The needs of the many await the needs of the few,” he said. ”I like him right where he is for the sake of all Band members.”
The Assembly approved unanimously the nominations of Bonnie Dorr and Mitch Matrious to serve on the TERO (Tribal Employment Rights Office) Commission.
At the November 28 Band Assembly meeting at All Nations Church in Minneapolis, the following topics were discussed:
Housing needs for urban Band members. District I Representative Sandi Blake said she had received requests for rent subsidies for urban members. Representative Marvin Bruneau requested a needs assessment to determine how many of approximately 400 urban households are in need of housing or housing subsidies.
An update to the Revenue Allocation Plan. The RAP, which defines how tribal governments spend gaming revenues, is required under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act if tribes intend to allocate per capita payments to individual members from revenue derived from tribal gaming activities. The Mille Lacs Band’s current RAP allocates 35 percent of revenue for per capita distributions, but increasing enrollment has resulted in shortfalls covered by using other resources to fund per capita payments.
Donation request. Band Assembly members considered a request for funding for a movie version of Anton Treuer’s book The Assassination of Hole-in-the-Day. The donation would come from the Band’s charitable fund administered by the Minnesota Community Foundation. Band Assembly did not make a decision on the request.
New Assistant Commissioner of Administration. Band Assembly ratified the nomination of Baabiitaw Melissa Boyd to serve as Assistant Commissioner of Administration. Baabiitaw was sworn in December 3.