September 2018 Message from the Chief Executive


Aaniin, Boozhoo! What a wonderful Mille Lacs Traditional Powwow! Miigwech to the powwow committee and all the volunteers, singers and dancers who made this such a great weekend for our Band community.

August was a busy month, including many meetings with Band members, the annual luncheon honoring all Band graduates, and a cabinet meeting with the commissioners on August 7–8. One topic that the commissioners and I are working on is revising the Band’s strategic plan. We devoted the majority of our cabinet meeting to working on goals and objectives for the Executive Branch to improve service delivery and efficiency for Band government.

On August 15, we held a meeting with Governor Dayton on the topic of law enforcement in District I. We continue to do everything we can to find a solution to this crisis that will ensure public safety for Band members. Band representatives attending this meeting included Speaker Sheldon Boyd, Chief of Police Sara Rice, Special Advisor on Government Relations Jamie Edwards, Solicitor General Tadd Johnson, Legislative Director Wendy Merrill, and myself.

Also on August 15, the elected officials held our first meeting of all three-branches — Executive, Legislative, and Judicial — which included our staff and commissioners. This was a great start to collaboration and cooperation across all branches of government, and an exciting meeting where many topics of importance to the Band were discussed. You can read more about those issues in this edition of the Inaajimowin. Chi Miigwech to Rep. Marvin Bruneau for pushing to make this meeting happen; it was very productive, and I think we all agreed that future three- branch meetings should be permanently built into our schedules.

The primary election took place on August 14. We are very pleased that Congressman Tim Walz and State Representative Peggy Flanagan (White Earth) prevailed in the Primary Election and are headed to the General Election in November as the candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor on the Democratic ticket.

The race for Attorney General will also be very important for the Band, as current Attorney General Lori Swanson, who has taken positions opposing the Band’s reservation boundary, is stepping down from that office. Congressman Keith Ellison won the Primary Election on the Democratic ticket for the Attorney General position.

Joe Radinovich won the DFL primary for the 8th District Congressional seat being vacated by Rick Nolan, and that race will be very tough, as the 8th District has been targeted by the Republican National Committee as possibly swinging to the right.

Miigwech to all the Band members who got out the vote during the primary. All three districts had a huge showing, and it is important that we make that turnout even bigger in November. The Native vote is critical and has been the deciding factor in many elections across the country in the past year. It will be very important for Band members to get out the vote for these races in November, because each of these seats will have significant impact on the Mille Lacs Band and Native people throughout Minnesota. I am also excited that we have several Native wom-en running for elected office across the country for positions in the Congress and for Governor of Idaho.

Finally, I heard about something that happened this past weekend that I want to share. Band Member Bonnie White told me that she wanted to find out who her neighbors were and get to know them better, so she decided to host a neighborhood potluck this past weekend and she invited me to attend. This was a wonderful event, and there was a great turnout, which even included the Sheriff. Great conversations happened, and people enjoyed meeting one another. I want to give a shout-out to Bonnie for taking the initiative to do this, and extend my appreciation to other Band members who do their part in community-building each day. You are inspiring! Chi Miigwech!

Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin and her granddaughter Aubrey were delighted to run into Tim Walz and Peggy Flanagan August 15 at the Band’s Intercontinental St. Paul Riverfront Hotel. Walz and Flanagan, who were endorsed by the Band, won the DFL gubernatorial primary the night before, and they will run for Governor and Lieutenant Governor in the General Election November 6.