Weekly News Summary, November 15-21


COVID surges, TERC responds

A dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases throughout rural Minnesota — and in the District I community — led the Mille Lacs Band’s Tribal Emergency Response Committee (TERC) on November 12 to call for enhanced safety measures to protect our communities while continuing to provide necessary services to Band members. The TERC voted unanimously to transition to virtual service delivery of all Band government, health, and education services that can be delivered in a virtual environment.

"COVID-19 continues to spread unchecked throughout much of Minnesota and is a growing threat to our reservation communities," said Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin. "Maintaining government services is critical to our Band members, but we must do so in a way that keeps everyone healthy and in the fight against this virus."

For more on this story, see https://millelacsband.com/news/covid-surges-terc-responds.

Governor asks Minnesotans to 'dial back'

Dial Back, Minnesota is a temporary pause of most social activities, in-person dining, sports, and indoor fitness activity in group settings. This four-week pause will be in place between November 20, 2020, through December 18, 2020. While some businesses can continue to offer goods and services in a safe manner, many others will again have to weather the challenge of adjusting their operations to “to-go” or virtual means. We hope these temporary changes will reduce the number of infections while safely supporting our schools, hospitals, and economy.

Although the recommendations do not apply in Indian Country, the Band has adopted similar restrictions, and they are important guidelines for all of us to follow to keep our selves and our communities safe.

Among the changes that went into effect at midnight on November 20:

— Do not gather with people from other households.
— No indoor or outdoor gatherings, except with immediate household members.
— No person from outside your immediate household should enter your home.
— Restaurants and bars are closed to the public except for delivery and takeout. Up to five customers at a time may be inside the establishment to pick up orders.
— Gyms, personal fitness and yoga studios, martial arts are closed to the public.
— Indoor and outdoor events and entertainment venues are closed.
— Schools will continue to follow the state's safe learning plan.
— Organized sports are on pause.
— All indoor facilities at outdoor recreation sites will be closed.
— Gathering outdoors is allowed with immediate household members ONLY.
— Reception spaces for celebrations or private parties are closed.
— Pools and swim parks closed.

For more on the Governor's orders, see https://mn.gov/covid19/for-minnesotans/stay-safe-mn/stay-safe-plan.jsp.

Pet Wellness Clinic

The Student Initiative for Reservation Veterinary Services visited the Mille Lacs Reservation on Saturday and Sunday, November 14 and 15. University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine students, faculty, and volunteers provided check-ups, vaccinations, and other medical needs for the pets of Mille Lacs Band members. The program is in the 11th year of service to Mille Lacs Band members. This year, during the pandemic, things were a bit different than previous years. See a short video about the two-day event at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRwAdoikODM&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR13Nl19F5foV6bCZp0X1BovYWHZL--mFFhzOGktpfiSnv4kFlIQA8AYICw.

Band Assembly posts Revisor of Statutes Code for public review

The Mille Lacs Band Assembly has posted the final version of Title 25, The Revisor of Statutes Code. According to the bill, "The Revisor of Statutes Code will grant the Revisor the authority to establish an independent Revisor’s Office to ensure the annual compilation, updating, and publication of Band laws and official acts; to provide confidential drafting services of proposed legislation and policy revisions to District Representatives; and to establish a Tribal Register for the publication of Band statutes and policies, Executive Orders, Secretarial Orders, Commissioner’s Orders, Legislative Orders, Chief Justice Orders, Solicitor’s Opinions, and other official notices. " A formal public hearing was held on Thursday, November 12. According to Band law, the Bill needs to be posted for 10 days prior to a Band Assembly vote. You can read the bill at https://millelacsband.com/news/band-assembly-shares-final-version-of-title-25-for-public-review.


The Legislative Branch published an update for the week of November 9-13: https://millelacsband.com/news/band-assembly-weekly-update-november-9-13**Bold text**


Tuesday, November 17, 2020 — Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provided Band members with a COVID update. She also discussed the Governor's call with the 11 Minnesota Tribal leaders where she shared with the Governor her concerns for the Mille Lacs Band members regarding continued food sovereignty, tele-health, and home care. She also asked to be notified of any additional grants that may become available. The top concern of Tribal leaders and state elected officials is the continued rapid increase of COVID-19 across the state. Chief Executive Benjamin shared her concerns about gathering for the Thanksgiving holiday and the new guidelines from the Governor’s staff to limit all gatherings to members of your immediate household. This will be a difficult time for families everywhere, including her own family gathering. She said her family gathering will not be a large gathering as in the past. She is looking forward to the day when we can all gather again with our families. https://youtu.be/CKewphorhy4

Thursday, November 19, 2020 — Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provided Band members with a COVID-19 update including an important message from Mille Lacs Band Public Health. If you are getting tested somewhere other than the Ne-Ia-Shing Clinic and you test POSITIVE, please call the nurse line at 320-630-0855 as soon as possible. This is extremely important for our public health department in order to conduct accurate and complete contact tracing. Also from Public Health, if you are experiencing ANY symptoms, please stay home and monitor yourself. If your symptoms worsen, or do not get better for a few days, then call the nurse line at 320-630-0855. The Chief Executive also discussed new restrictions from the Governor’s office, Band Assembly meeting yesterday and other important news. https://youtu.be/cy5w0dKo67o


Reminder: Fall and winter events are canceled

The Tribal Emergency Response Committee (TERC) on October 27 announced the cancellation of in-person fall and winter events, including the Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures Fall Feast, District holiday parties, and the State of the Band Address. A notice signed by six Commissioners who are members of the TERC said the approaching flu season and lack of abatement of the COVID-19 crisis made the decision necessary.

Ham and turkey giveway

Ge-Niigaanizijig Ham and Turkey giveaway is November 23 from 4-5 p.m. at the old community center in District I and at community centers in Chiminising, East Lake/Minisinaakwaang, Aazhoomog, and Hinckley (Meshakwad Community Center). Families enrolled in the Ge-niigaanizijig program will be served from 4 to 5 p.m. From 5-6 p.m., the event is open to all community members. See flyer below for more information.

Mark you calendar

Miigwech Days: November 26 and 27 are Mille Lacs Band holidays. Government offices closed.
Midwinter Break: December 24 and 25. Government offices closed.
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.


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 weekly news summaries and breaking news updates to Band members.
To sign up, go to https://millelacsband.com/services/mailing-list.