Weekly News Summary, June 20-26



A new home for healing: The Mille Lacs Band's Health and Human Services Department has moved into a beautiful, state-of-the-art headquarters on Timber Trail Road in District I. The move, which took place in mid-June, brings together Ne-Ia-Shing Clinic and Pharmacy, the Family Services Department, the Public Health Department, Substance Use Disorder Services, and Community Support Services. Family Services had been temporarily located in Onamia, while Public Health and Community Support Services shared a decades-old modular unit on Noopiming Drive. The new building is a warm and welcoming environment for Band members and a comfortable home for HHS employees.

Help slow the spread of COVID-19: As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the Mille Lacs Reservation and nearby communities, it is important to remember we are each responsible for our own health and self-care. Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Health and Human Services is here to support the community in many ways, and the best advice we can offer is for each individual to do their part to protect themselves and their loved ones. It is up to you to slow the spread of COVID-19. We understand it may look like the greatest threat is over as businesses and activities across the state and on our own Reservation begin to re-open. However, the Minnesota Department of Health is predicting that the peak of COVID-19 has not yet hit Minnesota. MLBO HHS and Public Health recommend following the guidelines set forth by the CDC and MDH. It is safest to assume everyone you meet is positive for COVID-19. https://millelacsband.com/news/help-slow-the-spread-of-covid-19

Secretary/Treasurer Updates Band Members on Legislative Branch Activities: Secretary/Treasurer Sheldon Boyd informs Band members that the Band Assembly is currently working on draft legislation pertaining to several statutes. For details, click here.

Band Assembly establishes protocol for drafting legislation: Legislative Order 28-20, passed by a 3-0 vote of the Mille Lacs Band Assembly on June 10, establishes guidelines and procedures for drafting legislation. The order states that an individual wishing to propose new legislation must first consult a District Representative, who may request legislative attorneys to assist in evaluating the proposed change and drafting the proposed law. The District Representative may also create a subcommittee composed of Band members and employees with direct knowledge of the subject of the proposed legislation. When the draft legislation is complete, the Legislative Branch must post the draft legislation and may establish a comment period, the results of which will be compiled by legislative legal staff and presented to Band Assembly at a working session. The Court of Central Jurisdiction will also be permitted to comment on proposed legislation that pertains to court processes and procedures. District Representatives will then consider the comments and make the final decision to act or not act on the draft legislation. The Legislative Order can be viewed here: https://millelacsband.com/content/3-government/13-legislative-branch/legislative-order-28-20.pdf

CARES funds finally reach tribes: A series of missteps by the Treasury Department and resulting legal battles delayed the coronavirus relief funds from reaching Indian Country in a timely manner, but by mid-June, virtually all of the $8 billion set aside for tribes in the CARES Act had been distributed. Relief funds received by the Mille Lacs Band were used to make up for casino revenues that were lost during the 11-week closure of Grand Casinos. The dollars were spent on emergency assistance to Band members, special health measures, food packages for Elders and other vulnerable members, special educational support, and payroll support. For more, see this story on the website: https://millelacsband.com/news/cares-funds-finally-reach-tribes

GRA board needs you! There are vacancies on the Mille Lacs Band Gaming Regulatory Authority Board. The GRA Board is in charge of making sure all gaming on Mille Lacs lands complies with Band law, compacts, and Federal law. They are compensated for their time and usually meet twice a month for several hours. No specialized knowledge of gaming or the law is necessary. All members will have to pass a criminal background check. Members cannot work at a gaming enterprise at the Mille Lacs Band. In addition, while they sit on the Board, members cannot gamble at any gaming enterprise owned by Mille Lacs. If you want more information on anything involving the Board, please call the Office of Gaming Regulation and Compliance at (320) 532-8194. Or contact your District Representative and the Chief Executive’s Office directly! Vacancies fill up soon, so hurry!

Chief Executive shares video updates: Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin continued to keep Band members informed through video updates this week. To view any updates you might have missed, see the COVID-19 page on the website: https://millelacsband.com/services/covid-19-information


Elder food distribution: Elders received food boxes in all three districts and the urban area again this week. The distribution included fresh fruit and bread along with other essentials and goodies.

Bingo is back at Grand Casino Hinckley: All Mille Lacs Band members were invited to a special pre-opening for the Hinckley Bingo Hall at 2 p.m. on Friday, June 26.

Construction season: Road construction began on Shaw Bosh Kung Drive a/k/a the powwow grounds road.


Police Chief served on working group to address deadly violence: Mille Lacs Band member and Tribal Police Chief Sara Rice served on a working group that investigated police-involved deadly force encounters and prepared a plan that has received renewed attention after the murder of George Floyd. Sara, who is also a member of the state’s Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board, was one of 16 members of the working group, which held public hearings for six months and issued its final report in February. Sara said she valued the diversity of the working group and it gave her the freedom to voice her opinion freely — not just from a law enforcement perspective. “It was very enlightening to come together as an entire group and collectively come up with recommendations that will have a huge impact, not just in law enforcement, but also for the communities we serve,” said Sara. “Being on a group that’s so diverse, seeing things from different perspectives — not just law enforcement — provides true insight.” See the website for more: https://millelacsband.com/news/police-chief-participated-in-working-group-on-use-of-deadly-force


From high school dropout to master’s degree: Chilah Brown candidly described her path from high school to grad school in hopes that it may inspire others. “Although I am a high school dropout, once I found a successful learning environment, I began to find my potential and to thrive. Finding your passion for learning is a great path that is different for everyone. I don’t have any regrets about dropping out of school because it has led me to where I am today. I encourage everyone of all ages to find their own educational path to success and hope that maybe by sharing my story it can inspire others to find theirs as well.” For the whole story, see the website: https://millelacsband.com/news/from-high-school-dropout-to-master-s-degree


Celebration of Indigenous Life is June 27: The American Indian Cancer Foundation (AICAF) is excited to invite you to the Celebration of Indigenous Life virtual event for cancer survivors, including caregivers and their families. This event will be hosted this Saturday, June 27, 2020 at 12 PM CDT. During the celebration, we will be honoring our relatives affected by cancer through shared stories, a drum song, and other activities. To register, please visit bit.ly/COIL627.
July 3 is the Midsummer Day holiday. Stay safe and have fun!

Send us your email: The Government Affairs Department, which is in charge of communications with Band members, is compiling a list of email addresses so we can send weekly news summaries and breaking news updates to Band members. Don’t worry — we will not share your email or overwhelm you with emails. This will be used for weekly news summaries and important updates that need to be shared immediately. Send your email address to news@millelacsband.com so we can add you to the list!