News Roundup, February 7-13


State files amicus brief in Band's lawsuit against Mille Lacs County

On Monday, February 8, the State of Minnesota requested permission to file an Amicus brief — sometimes called a “friend of the court” brief — pertaining to the Band's lawsuit with Mille Lacs County. A letter will be sent to Band members with more details about the State’s filing. In its brief, the State of Minnesota says, “After careful review of recent federal case law, the State of Minnesota files this brief in support of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe’s position that the Mille Lacs Indian Reservation has never been diminished or disestablished.” The State also says, “A decision from this Court, recognizing the 1855 treaty boundaries and at long last ending the dispute between Mille Lacs County and the Band, will allow state and federal agencies to work unimpeded in their shared missions ... For the foregoing reasons, the State of Minnesota respectfully requests this Court grant the Band’s motion for partial summary judgment.” The amicus brief does not mean the Band's fight to protect the reservation is over, but it does mean that the State has officially expressed to the Court its position, consistent with the federal government’s position, that the 1855 Treaty boundaries of the reservation still exist.

Chief Executive named to selection committee for federal law enforcement

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin has been chosen to participate in a selection committee formed by U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith to assist them in making recommendations to the President for candidates to serve as U.S. Attorney and U.S. Marshal for Minnesota. It is an important step toward giving tribal members a voice and a seat at the table to find candidates who will keep our communities safe while upholding the fundamental value of equal justice for all Minnesotans and Americans.

Frequently asked questions about the Mille Lacs Reservation

Misinformation and rumors abound on what the existence of the 1855 Mille Lacs Reservation means for Band members and non-Indians who live inside the borders. Please take the opportunity to learn the facts and share them with friends and neighbors at every opportunity. Short videos of FAQs and answers are also shared at

Public Safety videos share information about the fire prevention

Public Safety Series videos were created to support the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Emergency Management education during the COVID-19 pandemic. Normally, these presentations would be held in-person at the schools, but due to the pandemic, the videos were created for a virtual experience for the students of Nay-Ah-Shing and Pine Grove. For a video about the Danbury Fire Department, see For a video about the tribal DNR's fire crew, see For a video on emergency responders from Essentia Health in Hinckley, see For a video on safety around power lines from East Central Energy and Mille Lacs Energy Coop, see

Government offices will be closed Monday

In recognition of Chiefs' Day, Mille Lacs Band tribal government offices will be closed on Monday, February 15.

Helpline launches 24/7 operations

StrongHearts Native Helpline (1-844-7NATIVE) announced last week it will soon expand operations by offering advocacy services 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. The expanded service launches on February 19. StrongHearts Native Helpline is a culturally-appropriate, anonymous, confidential and free service dedicated to serving Native victim-survivors, concerned family members and friends affected by domestic, dating and sexual violence. StrongHearts Native Helpline is a project of the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center and the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Vision Maker Media celebrates 45th anniversary with free events

This year, Vision Maker Media — founded in 1976 as the Native American Public Broadcasting Consortium — is celebrating 45 years of engaging Native voices in public media platforms. “What began as a film archive to conserve and document Native American stories has, through the years, transformed into the nation’s public-media leader in content by and about America’s first people — Native Americans and Alaska Natives — for public broadcasting,” says Executive Director Francene Blythe-Lewis (Diné, Sisseton-Wahpeton, Eastern Cherokee). 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


Legislative held a meeting on Monday, February 1, for the Parliamentarian and Elected Officials to discuss Band Assembly Records for September and October 2020. On Tuesday, February 2, Legislative hosted a Pre-Band Assembly meeting to discuss the agenda items, and on Wednesday, February 3, Band Assembly occurred through conference call and Zoom. A compromise hearing was held regarding Band Assembly Bill 19-03-22-21, and formal requests from Joseph S. Nayquonabe, Commissioner of Corporate Affairs, were received to open capital projects at Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Grand Casino Hinckley. A Joint Session of the Band Assembly also occurred through conference call and Zoom to discuss nominations to the TERO Commission. Cheryl Miller was appointed to serve on the commission. On Thursday, February 4, Legislative held a work session. For details, see


Monday, February 8 — Vaccination update: HHS continues to receive vaccinations from Indian Health Services. We are pleased to announce that so far, a total of 561 Band members and essential employees have received at least the first dose of the vaccination. Of that total number, 258 individuals have received both doses. HHS continues to work on administering the vaccinations as they are made available to us. If you want to be placed on the list to be vaccinated, please call 320-532-4163. Your name and contact information will be added to the list. The Chief Executive also gave an update on the phased opening of the new District I Community Center, and she gave a reminder of the Elder food distribution scheduled for February 16 and 17.

Tuesday, February 9 — Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides Band members with a COVID-19 update in addition to other Reservation and state-wide news. A reminder to Band members, if you want to be placed on the list to be vaccinated, please call 320-532-4163. Your name and contact information will be added to the list. For students enrolled in the Ge-niigaaniziig program, if you are interested in learning Ojibwemowin you can learn via Zoom. See below for more information. Melanie also gave a shout-out to teacher Samantha Peet and her assistant James Clark, as well as Lyle Corbine, whose movie "Wild Indian,” debuted at the Sundance Film Festival last month. Lyle, a Bad River Band member who lives in Garrison, is the son of former Corporate Commissioner Mitch Corbine. The Chief Executive also informed members about her selection to serve on a committee by U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, as well as the State of Minnesota's amicus brief supporting the Band in its lawsuit against Mille Lacs County. (See above for more on those stories.)

Thursday, February 11 — Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provided Band members with a COVID-19 update and reminded those who want to be placed on the list to be vaccinated to call 320-532-4163. Melanie gave a shout out to Catherine Colsrud, who lives in District III and recently won a competitive arts grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board (MSAB). The Grand Casino Income Tax Preparation Program Appointment Hotline is open! The service is for Elders, Band Members and Employees of the Band. It is a free service for all. If they use the TaxSlayer portal. Some Band members have reported they were able complete federal and state returns in less than 20 minutes. Please call 320-532-8500 and leave a message. Someone will return your call to set up your appointment. Another Reminder: DUE TO DANGEROUSLY COLD TEMPERATURES THIS WEEK ELDER FOOD Distribution has been rescheduled to February 16 and 17. See the flyer below for times and locations.


Many new job openings have been posted this week with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe tribal government. See Among the new postings: Tribal Historic Preservation Office Assistant,
Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Program Administrator DIII, Legislative Paralegal, Four Winds Lodge Admissions/Financial Clerk, Nay Ah Shing Assistant Teacher, Early Ed Lead Teacher (District II), HHS Clinical Lab Assistant, Nay Ah Shing Elementary Education Teacher, Family Services Lead Investigator, Health Screener, Food Shelf Lead Warehouse Technician, Claims Processor, Ge-niigaanizijig Youth Education District Coordinator, Case Manager (DIII), Enrollments Specialist, SUD Counselor DIII, Chemical Dependency Assessor, Peer Recovery Coach, Substance Use Case Manager (2 positions), Aanjibimaadizing Tutor (Part-Time positions in DII, DIIa, and DIII).

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 February issue of Ojibwe Inaajimowin was sent to Band members on Wednesday, January 28, and can also be found at

You can also find stories from the newsletter at, including:

Band member voices — Giving back to the community by Randell Sam
GRA Update — Understanding Fraud
Opwaaganag — Ceremonial Pipes


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

Appeals Court rejects petition to halt construction on Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline
St. Paul attorney in running to become U of M's first Native American regent
Indigenous historic preservation groups object to wind project near Jeffers petroglyphs
Lower Sioux Indian Community to get ancestral land back from state


Executive Order allows restored services to Band members

Due to positive changes the Mille Lacs Band has made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin signed Executive Order 2021-01 on February 4, which will begin the process of restoring regular hours, staffing levels, and access to tribal government buildings and services. The new order replaces the stay-at-home order issued last year with a stay-at-home recommendation and authorizes the Commissioners to begin gradually expanding operations and services as long as they have implemented COVID-19 Health and Safety Procedures that Commissioner of Health and Human Services Nicole Anderson has approved. Commissioner Anderson may still require and enforce additional safety procedures for any department. For the complete order, see .

Housing Department updates drug policy

The Housing Department updated their existing Drug Policy to fortify and expand the Housing Department’s position against illegal drugs. It is the hope of the Housing Department that this revised Drug Policy will increase the health, safety and welfare of the Band and contribute towards the long-term goal of a drug-free Reservation in all three districts. Although the previous drug policy was technically a zero tolerance drug policy, there were two areas that needed to be addressed: (1) the “use” of illegal drugs, and (2) clarification that illegal drug activity occurring both on or off Band owned rental properties would result in immediate eviction. The revised drug policy, applicable to all Housing Department rental units, now prohibits the “use” of illegal drugs in addition to possession, distribution, and manufacturing of illegal drugs. Therefore, if a tenant or invitee overdoses in their rental unit, the Housing Department could terminate that tenant’s lease and evict all people living in that unit. The revised drug policy also expanded its scope allowing the Housing Department to evict a tenant if the tenant engaged in illegal drug activity in their rental unit OR anywhere off the property.

Free cement mason orientation and training

The Cement Masons, Plasterers & Shophands Local 633 Journeyman & Apprentice Training Trust Fund is offering a free 11-week cement masons trade orientation training in conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The goal of this program is to train Native Americans from several tribal nations in the cement mason trade enabling them to qualify for apprenticeship with the Union and work on MnDOT projects. For more information, see the flyer below or contact Lori Trail, Tribal Employment Rights Director at 320-532-4778, 320-630-2617, or

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.


Elder food distribution is February 16-17

Ge-Niigaanizijig Daughters of Tradition meeting is February 18

Ge-Niigaanizijig language classes with Memengwaakwe

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

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.

Mark your calendar

March 4, Bingo with the Band

March 19, Treaty Rights Day


For a wealth of news and information about the Band, tribal government, programs, and services, go to and start clicking! Click the Government or Services menu for information on departments and government programs. You can also access the site from your phone's web browser. If you have events to share, send an email to or call 320-237-6851. You can find the calendar at


The Mille Lacs Band Tribal Police Department’s anonymous drug tip line is 320-630-2458. Feel free to leave voicemails and/or text messages. If you would like a call back, be sure to leave your name and phone number. In case of emergency, dial 911.


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