News Roundup, February 21-27


Vaccine clinics come to Districts II and III

The Health and Human Services Department held COVID-19 vaccine clinics at the East Lake Community Center and Grand Casino Hinckley on February 24. A total of 30 vaccinations were given in District II and 79 in District III. As of February 25, 757 have received at least one dose and 647 are fully vaccinated. This is a positive step for our community. Vaccines are playing the central role in ending the COVID-19 pandemic. As of mid-February 2021, there have been over 184 million COVID-19 vaccines administered around the world with more being distributed every day. But we all need to continue to do our part. We need to continue to wear a mask, remember to stay six feet away from others, and wash our hands frequently. Even if you've been vaccinated, wearing a mask in public places makes those at risk feel more secure, and until we know more about the effectiveness of vaccines against variants of the virus, it's best to play it safe.

Photo: Diane Barrick of Hinckley got a shot in the arm from Tiffany Bellanger at Grand Casino Hinckley on February 24.

Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin appears on panel in support of Haaland

Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin was one of four participants in a Facebook LIVE panel February 22 discussing the confirmation hearings for Congresswoman Deb Haaland to serve as Secretary of the Interior. Haaland faced criticism from congressional Republicans with ties to fossil fuel and extractive industries. Melanie discussed the nomination with Rinku Sen, Executive Director of Narrative Initiative, Hop Hopkins, Director of Organizational Transformation at Sierra Club, Julia Barnal, Alliance Director at Pueblo Action Alliance, and singer-songwriter Raye Zaragoza. IllumiNative is a Native-led nonprofit, launched to increase the visibility of Native peoples in American society by changing the national narrative. IllumiNative challenges negative narratives, stories, and stereotypes about Native peoples. We provide tools for Native advocates and allies including youth, community and tribal leaders, activists, and professionals across critical sectors — to develop and advocate for accurate and contemporary representations and voices of Native peoples.

Elders share views on enrollments

Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin hosted an online meeting with Elders on February 25 about enrollment issues being discussed by the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe's Tribal Executive Committee. For background, see A special meeting of the TEC will be held March 4 at 1 p.m. at Grand Casino Hinckley. To share your thoughts on the matter, email

Career opportunity in institutional investments

Opportunity has presented itself for Band members seeking a career in the institutional investment industry. As the Band moves forward into an era in which it manages its own investments, the Office of the Secretary-Treasurer is pleased to announce that the St. Paul and Minnesota Foundation is hiring two junior investment analysts and is holding one position open for an enrolled member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. It is important to note that, if hired, the employee will work for the St. Paul and Minnesota Foundation, not the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. Moreover, the employee will not be working exclusively in support of the Band’s investments. This opportunity is instead being provided with an eye to the future — to help develop a deep-rooted institutional investment acumen within Band membership and leadership. The hiring window for the junior investment analyst positions will be open on the career section of the Foundation’s website from March 11-25. Interested Band members are encouraged to apply via the Foundation’s online hiring process. Although the web link will not be available until on or around March 11, the link will be published on the Legislative Branch Facebook page at that time. Miigwech. For more information, see

Building Interviewing Confidence — A valuable training opportunity for Band members

Grand Casinos are offering a great learning tool for Band members to enhance skills that will pay off throughout their careers. On March 11, prepare yourself for future interviews by doing mock interviews with a member of the Talent Acquisition team. Sign up for a one hour time slot (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) through Tina Bartheidel at or 320-384-4927. If you are interested in pursuing a specific position in the company, your interview questions can be catered to that. Otherwise, the interviewer will ask commonly used interview questions. These are virtual appointments. You will be sent a Zoom link after you register with Tina. After the mock interview is complete, Talent Acquisitions will provide feedback.

Traditional Wellness Clinic is March 4 and 5 at District I Cultural Grounds

Appointments are available March 4 and 5 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with Traditional Wellness Facilitator Todd Mikinaak Smith at the Cultural Grounds wigwam in District I, 43504 Timber Trails Road, Onamia. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Dan Wind at 320-674-0588. Please bring your own tobacco. Social distancing protocols will be in effect.

Watch for special insert with April issue of Ojibwe Inaajimowin

In recognition of Treaty Rights Day, celebrated this year on March 19, the Department of Natural Resources is sharing the Treaty Rights poster as an insert in this month's Inaajimowin. Miigwech to the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission for creating this excellent educational timeline and to the DNR and Government Affairs Department for covering the costs of printing and mailing it to all heads of household. More copies are available through

Band members contribute to video on slowing the spread of COVID-19

The Mille Lacs Band and two of its members participated in a video by the Arrowhead Regional Public Health and Tribal Health Departments including Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake and St. Louis counties together with the Bois Forte, Fond du Lac, Grand Portage, and Mille Lacs Bands of Ojibwe. Amelio Merrill and Derek Smith appeared in the video along with students from around the region.

Emergency Management Coordinator recognized for participation in rescue

In cases of cardiac arrest, seconds matter. According to the American Heart Association, fewer than 8% of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside of the hospital survive. The quick response by Mille Lacs Band Emergency Management Coordinator Monte Fronk was a critical piece in the team efforts that included complete strangers, Mille Lacs Band and Mille Lacs County and local paramedics/EMTs last August that resulted in saving the life one man on a rural highway last August. For the story, see This positive ending to this story reflects on the Community Risk Reduction efforts of the Mille Lacs Band. Watch this emotional reunion story now and a full story in an upcoming issue of the Inaajimowin. Knowing CPR can save someone’s life. CPR classes are offered by Emergency Management on an on-going basis. To find out more information on how to sign up for the next available class, call or text Monte Fronk at 320-362-0435 or email

GLIFWC tribes urge Wisconsin for consultation, wolf protection, and science-based natural resource decision-making

As wolf management in Wisconsin is occurring in a highly politicized environment, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) member tribes continue to advocate for an inclusive and deliberative decision-making process about shared resources. Ma’iingan (my-ing-gaahn) is the Anishinaabe word for wolf. Wolves are revered as relatives in the Ojibwe lifeway. Ma’iingan serves as a clan icon — a representation of traditional governance and organization within the community. “We are extremely disappointed with the recent decisions and we petition the State and Natural Resources Board to follow both sound and current science and follow the co-management framework laid out in the LCO v. Wisconsin [or Voigt] case,” said Voigt Intertribal Task Force Chairman John Johnson. “We are growing tired of the lack of tribal consultation on issues that directly impact our sovereign nations.” For more, see

Native communities continue to urge Congress to confirm Deb Haaland as Interior Secretary

Washington D.C.—The final day of confirmation hearings for Rep. Deb Haaland was held today regarding her nomination by President Biden for Secretary of the Dept. of the Interior. If confirmed, Haaland would be the first Native American to hold a seat in a Presidential cabinet. More than 20,000 letters have been sent in the past week from Native people to their state's senators urging them to confirm Haaland as Interior Secretary. More than 200 tribal leaders have signed a letter to Congress urging the same. And we won’t stop until Rep. Haaland is confirmed as the Interior Secretary. Judith Le Blanc, executive director of Native Organizers Alliance, said, "Rep. Deb Haaland's confirmation hearing showed what we already knew—she is the right person to lead the Department of the Interior. She has a deep understanding of land management, has proven she can work across the aisle on issues, and cares deeply about rural communities and the working class. She also carries with her the responsibilities of both our ancestors and descendants to bring about a new way of balance between the immediate and future energy needs of the nation." For more, see

February is Teen Dating Awareness Month

The Band's Family Violence Prevention Program reminds Band members that February is Teen Dating Awareness Month. One in three teens will experience dating abuse. Dating violence is a type of intimate partner violence. It occurs between two people in a close relationship. The nature of dating violence can be physical, emotional, or sexual. Dating violence can take place in person or electronically, such as repeated texting or posting sexual pictures of a partner online. Unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime. Teens often think some behaviors, like teasing and name calling, are a “normal” part of a relationship. However, these behaviors can become abusive and develop into more serious forms of violence. For emergencies, call the 24-hour hotline at 1-866-867-4006. If you are experiencing violence, call a Victims of Crime Advocate at 320-362-0734, 320-362-1416, or 320-362-1398, or the VOC Program Coordinator at 320-364-3568. Office: 320-532-7865.


After a Pre-Band Assembly meeting on Tuesday, February 23, to discuss the agenda, Band Assembly met on Wednesday, February 24, through conference call and Zoom. Band Assembly records from October 21, 2020, through February 3, 2021, were approved. Michaa Aubid gave a report regarding re-establishment of a Bureau of Indian Education school in District II. Mr. Aubid presented the history, resolutions, treaty and summary of request. The presentation was completed with questions and comments. Band Assembly approved Band Assembly Bill 19-03-26-21: A Bill of supplemental appropriation for Administration, Community Development, and Health & Human Services for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2021. Sponsor: District III Representative. For the complete update, see


Monday, February 22, 2021 — Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provided a COVID-19 update for Band members and reminded them of COVID Vaccine clinics set for District 2 and District 3 for Wednesday, February 24. She also acknowledged the anniversary of the signing of The Treaty of Washington (1855) is a milestone in the history of Ojibwe people in Minnesota. The agreement ceded a large portion of Ojibwe land to the U.S. government and created the Leech Lake and Mille Lacs reservations. Although the Mille Lacs band already lived on land ceded in 1837, they wanted their own permanent reservation, like those set aside in the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe. Read more at For the video, see

Tuesday, February 23, 2021 — Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provided a COVID-19 update for Band members with a reminder about COVID vaccination clinics in District II and District III. Chief Executive Benjamin reminded Band members about the confirmation hearing for Senator Deb Haaland and informed them about tribes' response to wolf management issues in Wisconsin. She also announced that flags at the Mille Lacs Band Government Center will be flown at half-staff to honor the passing of so many loved ones, friends, and family members of the Mille Lacs Band during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Friday, February 26, 2021 — Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides a COVID-19 update for Band members and reported on the vaccination clinics held in District II and District III. A video that was produced and recently released by the Arrowhead Regional Public Health and Tribal Public Health coalition that features two of our own Mille Lacs Band member students. The video is a good reminder that we all need to do our part. The video can be seen on Facebook and YouTube. Find it at An Elder Zoom meeting was held yesterday with updates from the commissioners and a lot of good discussion. Thank you to all who attended. March 19 is Treaty Rights Day. There is an article in this month’s Inaajimowin that details some of the history of the treaty of 1837.


Video update from District I Representative

District I Representative Virgil Wind shared a video update on Friday, February 19. Watch the video at

Tax help available for Band members

Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures is excited to share that our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program now has a self-assistance site, also known as FSA Remote. FSA Remote is a program that empowers taxpayers to prepare their own return and e-file for FREE! There are no income restrictions or scope restrictions that the standard AARP or VITA sites typically have. Email to request our unique URL link. We will reply to your email with a Word document that includes your link plus other important tax resource information and links for you. Upon receiving the link, you’ll need to set up a UserID and password. Once your UserID is complete, you will be directed to the Taxslayer website and have access to complete AND e-file your tax return FOR FREE. We do not and will not be able to see any of your personal tax information. It is YOUR account and YOUR return. Remember, you will receive a helpful Word document when we respond to you with the tax software link, which will also provide links to other valuable tax resources. If you still have in-scope tax questions after using the tools and provided resources, you can email our team at: We will respond within 2 business days.

Grand Casinos welcome new leaders

Congratulations to twelve Band members who have started Director positions with Grand Casinos! Stay tuned for more information on our new business leaders.


Among the new job postings this week: Admissions/Financial Clerk, HHS/Four Winds Lodge, Early Learning Literacy Coach, Nay Ah Shing Schools Bus Driver, HHS/Family Services Policy Specialist, District III Aanjibimaadizing Case Manager,
Aanjibimaadizing Part-time Tutor positions in DII, DIIa, and DIII. For more, see

You can request information about jobs by emailing or calling 320-532-7460. To apply for a job, please submit an application, cover letter, and resume to the HR email by the closing date.

For openings at Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Hinckley properties or Eddy’s Resort, visit: For openings with Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures, visit For openings at Grindstone Laundry or Crossroads Convenience Store, email or call 320-384-4722. Applications are also available at the main receptionist desk of the Corporate Commission building at 700 Grand Avenue, adjacent to the Grand Casino Mille Lacs Events and Convention Center.


The March issue of Ojibwe Inaajimowin has been sent out and can also be downloaded at You can also find stories from the current and previous newsletters at, including:

Commissioner Joycelyn Shingobe remembered for a life of service
State sides with Band in lawsuit against Mille Lacs County
March 2021 Message from the Chief Executive


You can find links to stories from around Indian Country at Among this week's headlines:

Tiny house indoor village for the homeless opens March 8 in Minneapolis
High potential of uncovering American Indian artifacts at Totem Town
Wisconsin girl creates video game to teach Ojibwe culture
35 Montana bison moved to South Dakota reservation
Fond du Lac Band tells outside protesters to respect its sovereignty after bomb scare


Storytelling with Maajiigwaneyaash
Join Maajiigwaneyaash Dr. Gordon Jourdain on March 3 from 6 to 7 p.m. for Niibaa-Aatisooke — Sacred Teachings in Night Time Story, sponsored by Nay Ah Shing Schools-Ojibwemowin Enokiijig. To register, go to The event will also be streamed live on the Nay Ah Shing Facebook page.

ACEs: Understanding NEAR Science: Building Self-Healing Communities

Friday, March 5, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Space is limited. Priority will be given to Aanjibimaadizing clients. If space is available, others may be able to participate. Contact Karen by March 3 to register: 320-362-4139 or

Elder Food Distribution March 17 and 18

Treaty Rights Day

Treaty Rights Day will be celebrated on March 19 in commemoration of the U.S. Supreme Court decision affirming our rights to hunt, fish, and gather under the 1837 Treaty. Government Offices close at noon. Stay tuned for information on the virtual celebration hosted by the Department of Natural Resources.

Ge-Niigaanizijig language classes with Memengwaakwe

Ceremonial Dance Dates

Recovery group meetings
Recovery meetings are held via Zoom conference during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Monday night Migizi meeting ID is 856 8473 0121, and the password is 56359. The Wednesday night Red Brick meeting ID is 895 631 97923, and the password is 56359. The Thursday Wellbriety meeting ID is 966 0395 9591, and the passcode is 944772. The nightly Zooming Towards Recovery code is 601-532-2869, and the password is zoom800. NOTE: ”The Rez” NA meeting starts at 6 p.m. at a new location: the old Ne-Ia-Shing Clinic, 43500 Migizi Drive.

Meetings for Urban Band members in recovery are held on Zoom Tuesdays at 7 p.m. and Fridays at 6:30.

SUD Department offers grief support
A Community Grief Support Group meets Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m. via Zoom. Meeting ID: 950 0668 4301. Passcode: Support! Contact Allison at 320-630-9243 or

Free streaming of movies by Native women
Vision Maker Media is marking its 45th anniversary with a yearlong celebration of free commUNITY events, including thematic online film screenings, online virtual programs, and more. The Cherokee Nation Film Office is a sponsor of the 45th anniversary events. In recognition of Women's History Month in March, Vision Maker Media presents “commUNITY: Herald Native Women,” a showcase of six films offered for free 24/7 streaming all month at

Bingo with the Band


The Government Affairs Department, which is in charge of communications with Band members, is compiling a list of email addresses so we can send news summaries and breaking news updates to Band members. To sign up, go to