Weekly news summary, June 8-12


This week in Mille Lacs Band news:

Primary election narrows field for Chief Executive, District I Representative: Official results are in from the June 9 Mille Lacs Band primary election: Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin and former Secretary/Treasurer Carolyn Beaulieu will advance to the August 18 general election, along with District I Representative Sandra Blake and challenger Virgil Wind. For details, click here: https://millelacsband.com/news/primary-narrows-field-for-chief-executive-district-i-representative

Corporate Ventures issues statement on death of George Floyd: Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures was created by the tribal government of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe to manage the business affairs of the Band, including Grand Casinos and many other businesses in East Central Minnesota, the Twin Cities, and other states. On Friday, June 5, MLCV issued a statement about the murder of George Floyd. For the complete statement, click here: https://millelacsband.com/news/a-statement-from-mille-lacs-corporate-ventures-on-the-murder-of-george-floyd

Covid-19 Update: Additional cases of COVID-19 have reached our communities in recent days. As a reminder, we have protocols in place for people testing positive in order to keep our communities safe. Household members of those testing positive will be quarantined for two weeks, and our Public Health staff will provide assistance with food and health care. Contact tracers will work to identify those who have come in contact with anyone who tests positive, and they will be told about testing options. In related news, Band-wide COVID-19 testing wrapped up in the urban area on June 9, after kicking off last week in Districts, I, II, and III. For more on the Band’s COVID-19 protocols, click here: https://millelacsband.com/news/covid-19-reaches-band-communities

Stay home order is still in place: Our communities are still under a Stay Home order, which requires all persons to stay home except to engage in the following activities: (a) obtain necessary supplies and services, (b) engage in activities essential for the health and safety of family, household members, and pets, (c) care for a family member, friend, or pet in another household or residence, (d) engage in outdoor exercise if social distancing practices are used. For details on the Stay Home order, click here: https://millelacsband.com/news/mille-lacs-band-issues-stay-at-home-order

Band member files for County Commissioner: Bradley E. Harrington, former Commissioner of Natural Resources for the Mille Lacs Band, put pen to paper on the steps of the Historic Courthouse in Milaca on June 2, as he filed office with a vow to serve all the people of northern Mille Lacs County — and with optimism about his chances. “Even though the north end of the county has elected people who drove a wedge between us for many years, I believe that most people, Native and non-Native, are ready to move beyond controversy and division to work together for a better future,” said Bradley. “The Band is the county’s biggest employer and a good chunk of the population, so it just makes sense for the county to move in a different direction that would work with us, and I’d love to be part of that change.” For more on the story, click here: https://millelacsband.com/news/bradley-harrington-files-for-mille-lacs-county-commissioner

Community members thank Brainerd district: Our Band members and employees were part of an effort to hold a Brainerd teacher accountable for racist comments on Facebook. The teacher has decided to resign her position. Not only did our community members protest the teacher’s actions, but they also made an effort to support the Brainerd School District for doing the right thing by condemning the comments and accepting the resignation. Miigwech to Shannon and Freedom Porter and Kaari Weyaus. For the whole story, click here: https://www.brainerddispatch.com/news/education/6521923-Forestview-teacher-accused-of-racist-comments-resigns-apologizes#.Xtm7hjDkaHk.email

Aanjibimaadizing brings training opportunities to districts: The Aanjibimaadizing program is partnering with Pine Technical College to bring some great educational and job training programs to our communities — Commercial Driver’s License training in District III, Certified Nursing Assistant Training in District II, Auto Technician Training in District I, and Career Exploration/Small Business Certification in District I. For details, click here: https://millelacsband.com/news/aanjibimaadizing-offers-education-and-training-opportunities

Enroll or re-enroll students in Ge-niigaanizijig youth program: To sign up, call Carlos at 320-674-4347 or any of the District Coordinators: Stacy in District I at 320-674-0407, Cheyanne in District II at 320-362-1608, Jennifer in District IIa at 320-630-0968, or Stanley in District III at 320-364-3858. Or send an email to carlos.merrill2@millelacsband.com.

Band member wins “maskie”: Congratulations to Adrienne Benjamin, whose mask with a “jingle dress” theme won a “maskie” award. Adrienne sent a photo of a mask she made to a nationwide mask contest and won the “Judge’s Choice” category. Her mask was also a finalist for “Best in Show” and “Historic.” Way to go, Adrienne! See her Instagram post here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CBOeebugvLf/

Stacy Sanchez fundraiser: Stacy Sanchez and her family lost their home to a fire on Saturday, June 6. Fortunately, no one was home at the time, but the house was a total loss. Many people have stepped up to help out through a Facebook fundraiser created by Justine Petersen. Miigwech, Justine! Another fundraiser was held at Grand Market on Friday, June 12, beginning at 11 a.m. Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and brats were sold to raise money for Stacy’s family. Miigwech to our WEWIN chapter for helping out! For the Facebook fundraiser, click here: https://www.facebook.com/donate/912052182603966/912052202603964/

Chief Executive shares video updates: Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin has shared regular video updates to keep Band members informed about the pandemic as well as other issues. This week’s video updates are available on the Mille Lacs Band’s YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/millelacsband. You can also find them on the COVID-19 page on the Mille Lacs Band website: https://millelacsband.com/services/covid-19-information

Band member reflects on George Floyd murder: One of our Band members, Doctor Arne Vainio, writes articles for Indianz.com, and he had a powerful reflection on the death of George Floyd. Many studies have shown that Native Americans are the ethnic group most likely to die at the hands of police, and we stand in solidarity with other communities that face the same problems. Here is an excerpt from Arne’s article, which you can read in its entirety at indianz.com (Indianz with a Z): “George Floyd’s death leaves an empty place in us. We need deep changes as a society and we need to live by the principles that are in us when we’re born. Within us all is the knowledge of the difference between right and wrong. The more you treat all other people fairly the stronger that part of your spirit becomes. … We’re better than this. We have to be. Four hundred years of oppression is too long. I stand with my relatives in the Black community everywhere and I feel their pain. Black lives matter. Say it out loud. Black lives matter.” Read the entire article here: https://www.indianz.com/News/2020/06/08/arne-vainio-black-lives-matter.asp?fbclid=IwAR0DbPk-U-QyvdzFaus_PV2SR8B5Y0isvzdr9DSAxSvgWrxhCZgDunYDAOk

Honor those who keep us safe: June is National Safety Month, and the Public Health Department is inviting Band members to recognize those who keep us safe — from friends and neighbors to health care and law enforcement professionals. Post your nominations on the Health and Human Services Facebook page or email nominations to colleen.mckinney@hhs.millelacsband-nsn.gov. For each message you post, you will be entered into a drawing for a $500 gift card! Find HHS on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/Mille-Lacs-Band-of-Ojibwe-Health-and-Human-Services-447641982094861/

DNR bridge work: Our DNR has once again been clearing cattail bogs that are blocking the Rum River at the Soo Line trestle in Onamia. Although this is not technically our responsibility, we’ve been asked by the state DNR to help, and we’re happy to do what we can to be good neighbors, make the river safe, and keep basements from flooding in Onamia. Along the same lines, our walleye stocking program added 600,000 ogaa fry to Ann Lake this spring! Read more here: https://millelacsband.com/news/dnr-assists-with-bog-cleanup-in-onamia

Tribal PD Chief serves on policing task force: Sara Rice, Mille Lacs Band member and Chief of the Mille Lacs Tribal Police Department, is a member of a state-led task force on policing, which released an extensive set of recommendations in late February for how to prevent law enforcement from using deadly force on civilians and how best to respond when police do kill people. Sara is also a member of the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board. For more on the task force, click here: https://www.minnpost.com/state-government/2020/05/a-minnesota-task-force-on-policing-recommended-28-reforms-for-deadly-force-incidents-after-george-floyd-will-its-report-get-a-serious-look/

In brief:

Tax prep help for Elders: Elders can once again get help with their tax preparation. The VITA Tax Program is available for virtual appointments. Elders can call 320-532-8348 to make an appointment.

Elder food distribution: Food distribution for our Elders took place in all districts and the urban area on Wednesday, June 10, and Thursday, June 11. Miigwech to all who made this possible!

Job openings: As we move towards reopening our government, there are quite a few new job openings. You can see those openings at millelacsband.com/jobs. New openings in our Health and Human Services Department include Peer Recovery Coach, Shelter Advocate, Victims of Crime Advocate, Data Specialist, Policy Specialist, and Tribal Initiative Planning Coordinator

Reminder of drug tip hotline: Although it seems like everything has changed in recent months, some things — unfortunately — remain the same. We still have drug dealers in our communities, and some have used the pandemic situation to take advantage of our community members who suffer from Substance Use Disorder. Remember to keep those who suffer in your thoughts and prayers, and you can be part of the solution by using the anonymous drug tip hotline at 320-630-2458.

In other news:

Minnpost published an article about the late Maude Kegg. Read it here: https://www.minnpost.com/mnopedia/2020/06/throughout-her-life-maude-kegg-worked-to-preserve-ojibwe-traditional-culture-and-interpret-it-for-others/

Coming up:

August 18: Minnesota Chippewa Tribe general election