Weekly News Summary, December 20-26



As vaccines arrive, COVID-19 precautions remain in place

Band members are being asked to remain vigilant in their personal fight against COVID-19, even as the hope of a vaccine gives a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. The first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine began arriving on the reservation December 15. The Mille Lacs Band Health and Human Services department, including Public Health and clinical staff, were able to administer 165 doses by Monday, December 21, when this issue of Ojibwe Inaajimowin went to press. Vaccines will go first to our Elders in assisted living units and then to Elders with the most compromised immune systems, followed by front-line health care staff. Watch Facebook and millelacsband.com for updates. When more vaccinations become available, HHS will continue to administer the vaccinations to Band members, staff, and community members. https://millelacsband.com/news/as-vaccines-arrive-covid-19-precautions-remain-in-place

Band continues action to stop Line 3

The Mille Lacs Band has been opposed to the Line 3 pipeline since Enbridge applied for a permit in 2015, and in a letter to Band members, elected officials reviewed the Band’s legal actions . "The fact is, the Band government is as passionately opposed to the proposed Line 3 replacement route as our Band members are, and we are fighting back through the best means available to government — the courts," the letter stated. In 2015, the Band retained one of the top environmental law firms in Minnesota to represent the Band on this matter. The Band has filed legal documents 73 times, most recently on December 7, 2020 — a 33-page brief in the Minnesota Court of Appeals. The latest appeal challenges the adequacy of the environmental review upon which the Commission's order granting the route permit was based.. Eventually there will be a response by the PUC and Enbridge, followed by a final round of briefings and oral arguments before the Court of Appeals. Ultimately, appeals will be heard by the Minnesota Supreme Court. Read more at https://millelacsband.com/news/band-continues-action-to-stop-line-3

Chief Executive shares lawsuit update

Chief Executive Melanie Banjamin shared the following message with Band members on Wednesday, December 23, regarding the Band's current lawsuit with Mille Lacs County et al.:

On Monday, December 21, the Federal Court issued a ruling on the Band’s lawsuit against Mille Lacs County, the County Attorney and County Sheriff. The ruling addresses several threshold issues in the case. It does not address the merits — that is, whether the Mille Lacs Reservation still exists and the scope of the Band’s law enforcement authority within the Reservation.

In the ruling by Judge Susan Richard Nelson, the court determined that it has “jurisdiction” to hear the Band’s case, that the Band has “standing” to pursue its case, and that the County Attorney and County Sheriff are not “immune” from the Band’s claims. In ruling that the Band has “standing,” the court agreed with the Band that the actions of the County Attorney and County Sheriff had interfered with the Band’s law enforcement authority and that their actions had harmed Band police officers, the Band police department and public safety on the Reservation.

These rulings mean that the Band’s case can proceed to a decision on the merits. The parties are currently preparing motions that will address the Reservation boundary issue. Those motions will be filed in February and argued in March 2021.

For the Chief Executive's video update, see https://youtu.be/_PHeRsZ0yho.

WEWIN serves meals at Mino-Bimaadiziwin

WEWIN ladies helped with a holiday meal and gifts for the families at the Mino-Bimaadiziwin hotel in District I. Miigwech to the amazing ladies that helped and volunteered, the Mino staff, and to Alizayah and Dan for helping. WEWIN also donated gifts to the White Family children. Giving back to the community is important to the WEWIN chapter. Happy holidays!

Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures requests participation in survey

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.

As part of this process, MLCV has teamed with Northspan who is working with community coordinators to conduct a series of focus groups in tribal economy communities. These focus groups seek to understand the current state of the Mille Lacs tribal economy, take stock of the resources available to local entrepreneurs, and develop a mission and vision for the incubator. A community survey is also being conducted to provide valuable background information for the focus groups. The study hopes to gain respondents from all tribal and non-tribal peoples that live within the Tribal Economy geographic area. The Community Survey will close on Monday, December 28th at 5:00pm.

We are requesting your participation in the Community Survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MLCVTEBICommunitySurvey

If you do not qualify (due to not living in the geographic area) but know someone who does, please forward this message. Participants who complete the survey and share their contact information will also have a chance to win a $100 MLCV gift card (that can be used for gas, gift shops, groceries, etc.).

Santa Bus delivers toys to children

Mille Lacs Band members, employees, and departments helped bring some Christmas cheer to local children by delivering toys and coats with the Santa Bus.

Food distribution in all districts, urban area

Holiday meals and gift cards were distributed to Band members on Friday, December 18, Monday, December 21, and Tuesday, December 22. District I Rep. Virgil Wind helped out on Monday at the Urban Office.

Holidays start early for government employees

Due to the predicted adverse weather conditions expected throughout the day on Wednesday, December 23, all Mille Lacs Band Government offices including Health and Human Services and Education closed at noon. All government offices were also closed December 24 and 25 for the holiday weekend.

Band hosts training for allies

The Mille Lacs Band's Family Violence Prevention Program is hosting "Being an Ally in Indian Country," a training for non-Natives who want to improve their ability to work with Band members. The training is January 7 and 8 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. via Zoom and will be led by Jillene Joseph and Robert Johnston, who are trainers with the Native Wellness Institute. Many non-Natives work in various capacities in Indian Country — from tribal administrators to front line workers to urban Indian center employees. In addition, other non-Natives work in other agencies that serve or collaborate with Indian Country. Learning by doing is the way most allies become allies. The training will include large and small group discussion, opportunities for reflection and assessment, and tools to take back to the workplace. If you know someone who would benefit from this training, have them contact Kala Roberts at 320-630-2691 or kala.roberts@hhs.millelacsband-nsn.gov. See the flyer below for more information.


Tuesday, December 22, 2020 — Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides a COVID-19 update for Band members. She also sends a chi Miigwech to the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community for the $1,000 donation to the Mille Lacs Band Food Shelf in an effort to relieve some of the hardships many families are facing. On December 21, Democratic and Republican leadership in the Congress unveiled a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package that reflects their agreement to provide support for unemployment assistance, small businesses, health care, education, broadband, nutrition programs, vaccine distribution, transportation and more, some of which will directly benefit tribal governments. More information on this will be provided in a later update. Are there high school students in the Mille Lacs Band community who are interested in exploring a career in tribal land? ILTF is offering grants for interns (Up to $10,000 for one intern or $15,000 for two) to work in tribal land offices in 2021. These internships offer a great opportunity for high school students to participate in a positive enrichment experience and are available to high school students only. College students are not accepted. Interns should have completed their sophomore, junior or senior year of high school and have an interest in working on some aspect of tribal land management. The purpose of this program is to provide real-life experience to students, exposure to tribal land issues and the work of the tribal land office. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGQA8X5NG5g

Wednesday, December 23, 2020 — As described above, Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin an important message with Band members regarding the Band's current lawsuit with Mille Lacs County et al.: https://youtu.be/_PHeRsZ0yho.

In a separate video, Chief Executive Benjamin provides Band members with a COVID-19 update and extends holiday wishes to all. https://youtu.be/EAuer6v23uQ


Band Assembly Weekly Update, December 14-18

For the complete update, see https://millelacsband.com/news/band-assembly-weekly-update-december-14-18.

On Wednesday, December 16, 2020, Band Assembly occurred through conference call and Zoom. The following Bills were approved:

— Band Assembly Bill 19-02-13-21: A Bill of Supplemental Appropriation for Disbursement of Long-Term Savings Investment Income Funds for an Adult Band Member Economic Support Payment for the Month of January 2021 in the Fiscal Year Ending September 30,2021. Sponsor: District II Representative. Bill was introduced by District III Representative. Bill was approved.

— Band Assembly Bill 19-02-14-21: A Bill of Supplemental Appropriation for January 2021 Tribal Per Capita Distributions for Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2021.Sponsor: District III Representative.Bill was introduced and approved.

— Band Assembly Bill 19-02-15-21: A Bill Amending Ordinance 30-20, the Emergency Budget for the COVID-19 Response. Sponsor: District I Representative. Bill was introduced and approved.

— Band Assembly Bill 19-02-16-21: A Bill of Supplemental Appropriation and Budget Revisions/Transfers for Health & Human Services, Education, Community Development, Administration, and Natural Resources for the Fiscal Years ending September 30, 2020 and September 30, 2021.Sponsor: District II Representative.Bill was introduced by District I Representative. Bill was approved with Administration MCT Delegate & Interest Fund portion removed.


Casinos Seek Band Member Retention Specialist

Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Grand Casino Hinckley are seeking a Band member to serve as Band Member Retention Specialist. The Retention Specialist will work directly with Band members to ensure a positive experience. For more information on this and other jobs, go to https://grandcasinomn.com/careers.

Current job openings with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe tribal government can be found at https://millelacsband.com/jobs. Among the new postings: DIII Community Health Representative, Director of Facilities, Client Access Specialist, Peer Recovery Coach, Case Manager, Claims Processor, Wildland Technician, Registered Nurse, Clinical Lab Assistant, SUD Counselor, District III Early Ed Coordinator, Client Access Coordinator, District III Fitness Coordinator. You can request information about jobs by emailing hr@millelacsband.com 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.

Grand Market is seeking a Deli Associate and a Stocker. For openings at Grand Market, Grand Makwa, Super Stop, Taco John’s, and East Lake Convenience Store, email sbayliss@grcasinos.com or call 320-532-8143.

For openings at Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Hinckley properties or Eddy’s Resort, visit: grandcasinomn.com/careers. For openings with Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures, visit mlcv.com/career-opportunities. For openings at Grindstone Laundry or Crossroads Convenience Store, email enelson@grcasinos.com 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.


Sign up for State of the Band updates

A virtual State of the Band event is being planned for January 12, 2012. To sign up for updates on the event, go to https://millelacsband.com/services/sotb-2021.

Housing improvement grants available

The Band's Housing Program is encouraging Band members to apply for a federal program that provides assistance for repairs and renovations of existing homes, and construction of new and replacement homes. For information see below, go to https://www.bia.gov/bia/ois/dhs/housing-improvement-program, or call Housing at 320-532-7448.

You can also download the application and instructions at https://millelacsband.com/news/housing-improvement-grants-available.


The January issue of Ojibwe Inaajimowin can be found at https://millelacsband.com/content/8-news/inaajimowin-archive/2101-inaajimowin.pdf. The January issue was sent to Band member heads of household on December 22.

You can also find stories from the newsletter at https://millelacsband.com/news, including:

Revisor's Office bill signed into law
Band member reelected to hospital board
Legislative Branch Welcomes New Staff Attorney

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@millelacsband.com.

News from Indian Country

You can also find links to stories from around Indian Country at https://millelacsband.com/news.

Among this week's headlines:

Eden Prairie, Northfield acknowledge the Native land they're build on
Deb Haaland's cabinet appointment will give Native youth the hope they need
Jingle Dress dancing was born during another pandemic


New Year's meal giveaway December 29-30
The Health and Human Services Department is teaming up with MLCV to bring a New Year's meal to Band members on December 29 and 30. Ring in the New Year with ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, buns, and apple and pecan pie! See the flyer for time and location.

Help with distance learning
The Mille Lacs Band's Family Services Department is joining forces with Nay Ah Shing and Onamia Public Schools to hold a technology/academic session at the old District I community center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on January 4. Students, parents, and guardians are encouraged to attend.

Band hosts training for allies
"Being an Ally in Indian Country," a training for non-Natives who want to improve their ability to work with Band members, is January 7 and 8 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. via Zoom. See the flyer for more information.

Elder food distribution January 13 and 14
The next Mille Lacs Band Elder food distribution will take place in District I, II, and III on Wednesday, January 13, from 1 to 3 p.m. and on Thursday, January 14, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Urban Office at 1404 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis. Elders who need delivery service in DI, DII, DIIa, or DIII can contact Renee Bayerle at 320-362-4988 by 5 p.m. Monday, January 11. District I and IIa Band members can pick up food at the south side of the Grand Casino Mille Lacs Convention Center. District II distribution will take place at Minisinaakwaang Community Center, and District III distribution at Grand Northern Inn in Hinckley. Items will include coffee, fresh fruit, potatoes, cheese, bread, frozen veggies, and a pork prime.

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
January 1: New Year's Day, government offices closed.
January 12: State of the Band. This event will be held online. Stay tuned to this site and Facebook for details.
January 18, Civil Rights 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 brett.larson@millelacsband.com or call 320-237-6851. You can find the calendar at https://millelacsband.com/calendar. For a wealth of news and information about the Band, tribal government, programs, and services, go to millelacsband.com 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 https://millelacsband.com/services/mailing-list.