News roundup, January 10-16


Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin delivers State of the Band Address

In her 2021 State of the Band address, Mille Lacs Band Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin summarized 2020 as a year in which “some of the worst things we could imagine happened, but in many ways, it brought out the best in us we could ever hope for.” During one of the darkest times in our modern history, Benjamin said that many Mille Lacs Band Members became a light in the darkness, “being the best ancestors they could be.”

“Small sparks together lit a great fire of community service, of fighting against injustice and of adapting to a new world. As Band Members and employees, you stepped forward to serve our Band with courage and compassion, risking your own safety to protect others. Together, we did not cower in the face of crisis. We faced it head on and we fought it. We took decisive action, and quickly changed the way we do nearly everything so we could keep Band Members safe.”

Normally delivered to a ballroom filled with Band members and dignitaries, this year’s State of the Band was delivered via an online webinar to protect the community from COVID-19.

To read the entire address, see To view the Chief Executive's address, see For the entire State of the Band event, see

Secretary-Treasurer reports on process, investments

In his State of the Legislative Branch Address on January 12, Secretary-Treasurer Sheldon Boyd told Band members about the significant changes made in 2020, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among those changes were the creation of a Revisor's Office and a thorough, independent review of the Band's investments. To read the address, go to To watch the speech, see

Chief Justice provides update on Judicial Branch

Justice Ramona Applegate gave the annual State of the Judiciary event online on January 12 as part of the annual State of the Band event. She provided an update on the Tribal Court's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which allowed court activities to shift online, and she told an inspirational story about the reunification of a family that also illustrated the challenges faced each day by the Band's Judicial Branch. To read the complete address, see For a video of the speech, see

Secretary-Treasurer announces publication of Band Statutes

On January 12, 2021, Secretary-Treasurer Sheldon Boyd unveiled a 2020 version of the “Laws of the Non-Removable Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa Indians.” This is the first time that a comprehensive set of the Band’s laws have been published in print in approximately 15 years. This publication will serve not only as a useful reference for Band members, but also an important historical record so that future generations will know the status of Band law in the year 2020. See

Commissioners provide updates as part of State of the Band broadcast

For the first time, Mille Lacs Band Commissioners provided brief speeches about their programs as part of the online State of the Band event on January 12. To see the videos of the speeches, go to

Family Violence Prevention Program raises awareness of human trafficking

January 11, 2021, was Human Trafficking Awareness Day, and the Band's Family Violence Prevention Program (FVPP) recognized the day by sharing resources and information about the issue. FVPP provides advocacy services for survivors (up to 24 years old) of human trafficking through our Safe Harbor Program: 320-630-2499. If a survivor is older than 24 years old, FVPP has other programs that can provide advocacy, such as:
Women’s Shelter (24/7 Crisis Line): 1-866-867-4006
Community Advocacy: 320-630-2677
Sexual Assault: 320-630-2691
Victims of Crime: 320-364-3568
There is more information for the Family Violence Prevention Program at

Band members learn about Tribal Economy Business Incubator

On Friday, January 15, Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures hosted a Zoom meeting for Band members to learn about the research and feasibility study around building a Tribal Economy Business Incubator (TEBI). MLCV is working with a range of partners on a project to study the feasibility of a Tribal Economy Business Incubator (TEBI). This incubator aims to spur entrepreneurial activity within the Mille Lacs tribal economy, an area covering parts of Mille Lacs, Kanabec, Aitkin, and Pine Counties where the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe has a presence. The tribal economy includes both tribal-owned (including nation-owned and citizen-owned) and non-tribal owned business.


Band Assembly Weekly Update, January 4-8

Band Assembly met on Wednesday, January 6. A confirmation hearing was held with Catherine Colsrud, who was nominated by Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin to serve in the at-large position on the Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures board. A contract was approved for Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures to provide implementation of Tribal Economic Business Incubator through the Minnesota Disaster Recover Fund Grant through the St Paul & Minnesota Foundation in support of coronavirus recovery in the community. The contract end date is April 30, 2021. Band Assembly also held a work session for a presentation on corporate law by Legislative staff attorney Joseph Jensen on Thursday, January 7. For more, see

Band Assembly Weekly Update, January 11-15

On Tuesday, January 12, following the State of the Band Address, Band Assembly reconvened to approve an appropriations bill, the Housing Department Drug Policy, and foster care licenses. Enrollment applications were approved and denied in a joint session with Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin. For more, see


Monday, January 11, 2021 — Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provided a COVID-19 update for Band members, asking Band members who choose to go out to eat to continue wearing masks in public, washing hands, and social distancing./ indoor dining is available starting today. She said there currently isn’t enough vaccine for everyone, which means it will take time to build up immunity in the population. She announced the Elder food distribution scheduled for Wednesday, January 13, and Thursday, January 14, and recognized today as Human Trafficking Awareness Day. The Family Violence Prevention Program provides advocacy services for survivors (up to 24 years old) of human trafficking through our Safe Harbor Program: 320-630-2499. If a survivor is older than 24 years old, FVPP has other programs that can provide advocacy, such as:

— Women’s Shelter (24/7 Crisis Line): 1-866-867-4006
— Community Advocacy: 320-630-2677
— Sexual Assault: 320-630-2691
— Victims of Crime: 320-364-3568


Current job openings with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe tribal government can be found at Among the new postings: District III Community Health Representative, District III (Lake Lena) Ge-niigaanizijig Youth Mentor , Client Access Specialist, Lead Social Worker, Licensing Investigator, Maintenance Pool Technician, Training & Development Specialist, SUD Counselor. 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 January issue of Ojibwe Inaajimowin can be found at The January issue was sent to Band member heads of household on December 22.

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

Youth Assembly gives students a strong voice
Loretta Hansen shares the gift of experience as higher education coordinator
Derek Smith — Passion and dedication lead to success on the gridiron

The Inaajimowin is sent to Band members who are identified as heads of household by the Enrollments Department. If you are a Band member head of household and are not receiving the Inaajimowin, please contact Enrollments. If you are not a Band member head of household and would like to receive the Inaajimowin, send your name and address to

News from Indian Country

You can also find links to stories from around Indian Country at

Among this week's headlines:

Men trek across American to bring attention to MMIW
Tribes slam lawmaker for trying to derail Haaland nomination
Audrey Thayer is first Native American woman elected to Bemidji City Council


MnDOT updates reservation signs

On January 7, the Minnesota Department of Transportation started placing signs on the borders of our Reservation. The signs read: Misi-zaaganiganiing / Mille Lacs Reservation / Established in 1855 Treaty. These signs will not affect our pending lawsuit, but are an important reminder of the establishment of our Reservation. Our ancestors withstood a decades-long campaign by powerful timber companies, non-Indian settlers, and federal, state and county officials to force them from the Reservation, which included acts of violence and the burning of the Band’s homes and villages. They remained here against all odds. Given our history, and the modern-day efforts of Mille Lacs County to erase all memory of our Reservation, we greatly appreciate the State’s public recognition of its establishment in 1855.

New videos by Obizaan have been posted to the Band’s YouTube Channel

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Elder Obizaan shares insights about the COVID-19 virus through his eyes as Anishinaabe. He shares his thoughts about the current virus and how Anishinaabe ancestors have dealt with previous viruses – “that which we can see that travels around, meaning sickness or illness that travels.” Videos have been prepared in Ojibwe and with an English translation. You can view the videos directly from YouTube or on the Band’s Facebook page. Video in Ojibwe Language only - Approximately 22 minutes. Video in English Translation only- approximately 18 minutes. Full video in Ojibwe with English Translation - approximately 44 minutes.

Help available during difficult times

The Department of Health and Human Services understands that these are difficult times. The Behavioral Health Department (Mental Health) is here for the community. Our therapists offer services that assist people experiencing a wide range of mental health concerns. We want to make sure that all community members have the support that they need during challenging times. The Mille Lacs Band Behavioral Health Department also offers a crisis line. When you call, you will talk to one of our Mille Lacs Band therapists. The number to call is 320-674-4385.
We recognize that sometimes it is hard to reach out to people in your own community. If you need referrals or numbers to other agencies we can help with that, too.

Vision Maker Media seeks public media project proposals

Vision Maker Media (VMM) announced an open call for 2021 public media broadcast proposals. The deadline for submissions is 5 p.m. CST on Friday, February 12, 2021. Project awards will be announced in spring 2021. VMM seeks public media film and television projects that are intended and appropriate for Public Media Television Broadcasting, including Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) digital and streaming platforms that represent the cultures, experiences and perspectives of Native Americans and Alaska Natives. For more information, see

MLCV, Initiative Foundation seek applications for Enterprise Academy cohort

Dreaming about starting your own business? It’s time to make that dream a reality. Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures and Initiative Foundation are recruiting for the next cohort of the spring Enterprise Academy program that starts February 23, 2021. Graduates will leave the program with a strong business plan, a deep network of like-minded entrepreneurs, and access to the Initiative Foundation’s vast financing programs for startups. All are encouraged to apply. MLCV is offering a specific $2,500 stipend to any Mille Lacs Band Member that is accepted into this cohort. To learn more visit or contact Abdi Daisane from Initiative Foundation at or Dustin Goslin from MLCV at For a recent Inaajimowin story on six Band member graduates of the program, see


Community Risk Reduction Week is January 18-24
Watch social media for updates on what the Band is doing to keep our communities safe. For information on CPR/AED, Basic First Aid, Fire Extinguisher Training, Car Seat Training, and free car seats and fire alarms, contact Emergency Management Coordinator Monte Fronk at 320-532- 3430.

GRA board meeting
The Gaming Regulatory Authority board will meet on January 21 at 9 a.m. via Zoom. The meeting is open to Band members. For more information, contact

Bingo with the Band, first Thursday at 2 p.m. at Grand Casino Hinckley!

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 nightly Zooming Towards Recovery code is 601-532-2869, and the password is zoom800.

Mark your calendar
February 15, Chiefs Day, government offices closed.


Did you know there is a website calendar with flyers and information on events in our communities? If you have events to share, send an email to or call 320-237-6851. You can find the calendar at 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.


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