Stay at Home order issued by Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin


An Executive Order signed by Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin on March 25 says "stay at home" to Mille Lacs Band members and members of other tribes residing within the jurisdiction of the Mille Lacs Band.

Executive Order 2020-5, which includes several exceptions, was signed on the same day that Governor Tim Walz issued a similar order for residents of the state of Minnesota.

Both orders took effect on Friday, March 27, at 11:59 p.m. The tribal order remains in effect until rescinded by subsequent executive order or termination of the current state of emergency.

The order requires all persons to stay at home except to engage in the following activities:

(a) obtain necessary supplies and services for family or household members and pets, such as groceries, food and supplies for household consumption and use, supplies and equipment needed to work from home, and products necessary to maintain safety, sanitation, and essential maintenance of the home or residence;

(b) engage in activities essential for the health and safety of family, household members, and pets, including seeking medical or behavioral health or emergency services and obtaining medical supplies or medication;

(c) care for a family member, friend, or pet in another household or residence, and to transport a family member, friend, or pet for essential health and safety activities, and to obtain necessary supplies and services; and

(d) engage in outdoor exercise activities, such as walking, hiking, running, or biking, but only if appropriate social distancing practices are used.

The order does not apply in the following special circumstances:

(1) At-Risk Individuals: Individuals whose homes or residences are unsafe or become unsafe for adults or children, such as victims of domestic violence or concerns for child safety protection or endangerment, but are urged to call 911 and leave their homes or residences and stay at a safe alternate location.

(2) Individuals Experiencing Homelessness: Individuals experiencing homeless are urged to obtain shelter, and governmental and other entities are strongly encouraged to make such shelter available as soon as possible and to the maximum extent practicable.

The order also allows for cultural activities: "This executive order does not limit the right of individuals to engage in ceremonial or religious activities or gathering of food and medicines for traditional purposes."

Finally, the executive order does not apply to government personnel designated as critical, emergency management personnel, or the Mille Lacs Band Tribal Police Department.

State order

The Governor’s order allows essential activities and services to continue, Walz said. People will be allowed to exercise outdoors and visit the grocery store, with proper social distancing.

The Governor’s order recognizes tribal sovereignty by providing exemptions for tribal activities and lands, including:

— Activities by tribal members within the boundaries of their reservations,
— Activities within the boundaries of trust lands,
— Activities to exercise federal treaty rights within their treaty territory (ceded territory), and
— Travel by tribal members to and from their reservations.

The stay at home order is based on models developed by the Minnesota Department of Health and the University of Minnesota showing that the state will run out of hospital intensive care capacity before infection rates peak — leaving many Minnesotans at greater risk of death from COVID-19.

Without action, Walz said, as many as 74,000 Minnesotans could be killed by coronavirus.