News Summary, December 27-January 8



Online State of the Band event is January 12 at 10 a.m.

To register for the State of the Band and order a gift, go to Those who sign up will receive an email prior to the event with instructions on how to log in to the State of the Band.

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.

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.

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.

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

Gaming Regulatory Authority welcomes new board members

We are honored to introduce you to the Board Members of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Gaming Regulatory Authority (GRA). Our most recent GRA Board meeting, held on December 17, 2020, marked the first meeting we were at full staff on the Board since the end of July. We’re excited to get to work with our new Board Members. We encourage you to congratulate them when you next see them and please look to them if you have any questions regarding Mille Lacs Band gaming regulation! The GRA is an independent regulatory agency of tribal government established to separate the government’s regulatory function from the management function of the Gaming Enterprises. GRA Board meetings are open to the public. Due to COVID-19, meetings are currently being conducted remotely using Zoom Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 9 a.m. Read more at

The GRA board has been meeting via Zoom conference. Top: Board Member Michael Davis, Executive Director Becky Houle, Executive Administrative Assistant Jennifer Tretter. Middle: Vice Chairperson Michelle Pomerleau, Deputy Solicitor Michael Hogan, Assistant Executive Director Teresa Kozumplik. Bottom row: Board members Susan Klapel, Megan Ballinger, and Maurice Benjamin. Susan Klapel has been named Chairperson of the Board.

Grand Casino Hinckley hosts VIP New Year's event for Band members

Grand Casino Hinckley moved their New Year’s Eve event to an invite-only exclusive experience this year. The exclusive VIP event ran from 4 p.m. on December 31st until 4 a.m. on January 1, 2021. Mille Lacs Band members were invited to be part of that exclusive experience. Each Band member was welcome to bring one guest with them as well.

Band members enjoy New Year's meals

The Health and Human Services Department teamed up with MLCV to bring a New Year's meal to Band members on December 29 and 30. Meals included ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, buns, and apple and pecan pie!

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


Wednesday, December 30, 2020 — Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provided a COVID-19 update for Band members and discussed items from the Band Assembly meeting, including three bills passed into law, new TERO board members, and the new GRA board chairperson. Congratulations to Joe Nayquonabe Jr. as he has been voted as Commissioner of Corporate Ventures for another four-year term.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021 — Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provided Band members with a COVID-19 update and gave an update on the vaccine. She also reminded Band members to update their addresses with Enrollments AND OMB (the Office of Management and Budget). Harvesters can now receive 2021 permits by stopping by their local DNR office or calling 320-532-7439 with any questions. Chief Executive Benjamin encouraged Band members to to watch a new video by Obizaan with his insights about the COVID-19 virus. The video is available in Ojibwe and English and can be found on the Band’s YouTube Channel. She also reminded Band members that the State of the Band will be held online on January 12. A page on the website has been created for Band members to register, sign up for a gift, and find links to the broadcast. Go to You can also sign up for your gift by filling out the form on page 8 of the Inaajimowin Newspaper. Finally, the Chief Executive discussed the second federal economic impact payment that Band members can expect to receive.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021 — Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provided a COVID-19 update for Band members along with additional information on other community issues and an update from the Band Assembly meeting today. The next Elder Food distributions are Wednesday and Thursday, January 13 and 14. See the flyer below for details. DNR news is available on the Mille Lacs Band DNR Facebook page. To stay informed and up-to-date on environmental issues, fishery news, harvesting information, and all things Natural Resources, please like and follow the DNR Facebook page. The Mille Lacs Band received a personal letter from the Governor's office with recognition and a thank you for work the Band has done addressing food needs for the community.

Thursday, January 7, 2021 — Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provided a COVID-19 update for Band members with a summary of state and national events as well, including the assault on the Capitol in Washington, D.C.


Band Assembly Weekly Update, December 28-30

Band Assembly met on Monday, December 28, Tuesday, December 29, and Wednesday, December 30, followed by a work session on Thursday, December 31. A Three Branch Meeting was also held on Monday, December 28, and a Joint Session with the Chief Executive was held on Wednesday, December 30. For details, see


Grand Casino Mille Lacs is looking for a Bingo Manager who will be responsible for overseeing all Bingo and pull-tab operations and implementing and ensuring compliance with approved company policies and regulations. For more information, see

Current job openings with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe tribal government can be found at Among the new postings: Accounts Receivable Specialist, Director of Division of Land Management, DIII Community Center Site Coordinator, Chemical Health Counselor, SUD Counselor, Training and Development Specialist, Maintenance Pool Technician, and Licensing Investigator. 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.


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:

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.).


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:

January 2021 Message from the Chief Executive
Letitia Mitchell — A life of hard work and plenty of laughs
Carmen Kalk brings experience to new HHS role

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:

Dakotas tribe prioritizes vaccine for native speakers
Hank Adams, Indian Country's "prolific genius," walks on
Artists confront the plight of missing and murdered Indigenous women


Elder food distribution is 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.

Distance learning help on January 15
Needing help navigating distance learning? Onamia and Nay Ah Shing Schools are hosting a distance learning technology event on Friday, January 15, 2021 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the old District I Community Center.

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
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.
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