Weekly News Summary, October 25-31


Final Reminder: Go Vote!

The Native vote can and has made a difference. For example, in 2006, U.S. Senator John Tester (D-Montana) won his Senate seat over the Republican incumbent candidate by only 3,562 votes. In that election, more than 17,000 voters cast ballots on Montana’s seven Indian reservations. Again in 2012, Senator Tester was re-elected by a narrow margin with the power of the Native vote. Our vote is our power, and we need to en- sure that every Native vote counts. There are over 4.7 million eligible Native voters over the age of 18+. Increasing the participation of Na- tive Americans in the voting process is one of the key means of reclaiming our power. In the United States, power is available through participatory democracy. If Native Americans can en- gage fully in the political system — free from the barri- ers that currently obstruct us — we can reclaim power and participate in a way that is fair and just. Read more here: https://millelacsband.com/news/one-last-reminder-go-vote.
See your ballot at https://myballotmn.sos.state.mn.us.

Check out this video to hear from some of our community members about the importance of voting: https://www.facebook.com/millelacsband/posts/3297068413675997?notif_id=1604267108675683&notif_t=page_post_reaction

Reduced Building Access Due to Positive COVID-19 Tests

On October 30, Commissioner of Administration Baabiitaw Boyd issued a memorandum to all Mille Lacs Band employees stating that new COVID-19 cases among the workforce would result in the closure of all Band buildings to the public for at least two weeks except by appointment. The closure begins November 2. The Clinic will remain open to Band members with scheduled appointments. Commissioners will continue to encourage remote work for employees whenever possible.

For the complete memorandum, see memorandum-building-access-and-remote-work-due-to-covid-19.

HHS Shares COVID-19 Announcement

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Health and Human Services shared this announcement on October 29:

COVID-19 is quickly spreading in outstate rural Minnesota with a rate of spread that is significantly higher than in the metro area. Our community has increasingly been impacted by positive COVID-19 cases and more of our employees are being impacted. This includes one employee in the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Family Services Department who has a confirmed case of COVID-19. Immediate action was taken and contact-tracing confirmed finding no Band clients were exposed to COVID-19 by this employee. Anyone who had a scheduled visit this week has been contacted and notified that their scheduled visits for this week had to be rescheduled. Read more at https://millelacsband.com/news/health-and-human-services-shares-covid-19-announcement.

Fall and Winter In-Person Events 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. Click here for the complete notice.

Stay Safe on Halloween

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, public health experts are recommending that children and families stay away from traditional Halloween activities or at the very least take strict precautions. HHS Commissioner Nicole Anderson recommended this week that Band members celebrate the holiday outdoors with close friends and family while maintaining social distance, wearing masks, and washing hands often. For CDC Halloween recommendations see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays/halloween.html.

Native Americans on the Ballot

Many Mille Lacs Band voters will be able to cast a ballot for a Band member this Election Day, as well as for descendants and members of other tribes. Band member Virgil Wind is running for reelection to the Onamia School Board. Becky Clitso-Garcia, a Band employee who is a member of the Dine (Navajo) Nation, is also seeking a seat on the Onamia School Board. For more on Virgil and Becky, see https://millelacsband.com/news/virgil-wind-becky-clitso-garcia-running-for-onamia-school-board. For more on Becky, see https://millelacsband.com/news/becky-clitso-garcia-asking-for-your-support-on-november-3.

In District II, Band employee and Turtle Mountain Ojibwe member Gaylene Spolarich is running for State House against Dale Lueck. A candidate for State House in District I, Cal Schmock, is a descendant of a Lac Courte Oreilles grandmother. He is running against Representative Sondra Erickson.

Our recent election guide featured Band member Bradley Harrington, who is running for Mille Lacs County Board. See https://millelacsband.com/news/election-guide-sent-to-band-members. Bradley was also featured on Minnesota Public Radio on October 28. You can read or listen to that story here: https://www.mprnews.org/story/2020/10/28/mille-lacs-county-board-race-highlights-old-tensions.

DNR Wants Your Opinion

Do you care about natural resources? Of course you do! That’s why the Band’s DNR wants your opinion! The Integrated Resource Management Plan (IRMP) was first developed over 30 years ago, and in order to update the plan and comply with grant regulations, we are seeking input from our community members. Our natural resources and the management of those resources are important not only to us now, but for our future generations to come. Please complete the survey online and feel free to provide additional feedback by calling our main DNR Headquarters at 320-532-7439. Miigwech! https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/mlbdnrirmp.

Legislative Update

Band Assembly continues to meet via Zoom on Wednesdays and on other days as needed. For the latest weekly update, see https://millelacsband.com/news/band-assembly-weekly-update-october-19-23.

Secretary-Treasurer Sheldon Boyd has scheduled a formal public hearing via Zoom on November 12 at 10 a.m. to hear input on proposed legislation that would establish a Revisor's Office. For more information, see https://millelacsband.com/news/public-hearing-november-12-for-revisor-s-office-legislation.


Chief Executive's Video Updates

Monday, October 26, 2020 — There are no new positive cases on the reservations but numbers continue to increase in the surrounding areas. New "Natives Vote" t-shirts are being distributed in all districts. Stay tuned for details on FaceBook and Instagram on how to get one. Meetings last week included the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe in Grand Portage and a tribal panel in Duluth on Sunday. Aanjibimaadizing has moved to old Ne-Ia-Shing clinic and have some exciting Zoom programs for children. https://www.facebook.com/millelacsband/videos/1084116585375330/

Tuesday, October 27, 2020 — Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides a COVID-19 update for Band members. Today, she is joined by Nicole Anderson, Commissioner of Health and Human Services who provides an update for Halloween guidelines. Chief Executive Benjamin congratulated Bill Schaaf for his Lifetime Achievement award received earlier today. The Award was presented by Ernie Stevens, Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association. Commissioner of Health and Human Services joined the Chief Executive to discuss the recommended guidelines for Halloween and to announce a special community connection Zoom meeting series regarding Family Services for November. Dates and times of the meetings will be announced as soon as they are available. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaLy0Qj8KPs

Thursday, October 29, 2020 — Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides Band members with recent COVID updates occurring on the reservation and around our communities. Tribal Leaders and leaders from the State of Minnesota had a call last night regarding increases. The Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm notified tribes that we are just beginning a third wave of infection that is likely to hit reservation communities hard. Our own Family Services Department has been impacted by COVID-19 with one employee in the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Family Services Department who has a confirmed case of COVID-19. Read more at https://millelacsband.com/news/health-and-human-services-shares-covid-19-announcement. Chief Executive Benjamin also recapped the TERC decision to cancel all fall and winter indoor activities including the Fall Festival and the Annual State of the Band meeting. Many activities will be held virtually. Keeping in mind the increasing number of positive COVID cases in the state and in the country, early voting is an option. Find your local election office at https://www.sos.state.mn.us/el…/find-county-election-office/
As a reminder, the Mille Lacs Band prepared an election guide and it was mailed to our Band members. If you did not receive one in the mail, you can find it on the Band website at See https://millelacsband.com/news/election-guide-sent-to-band-members. The entire video is available at https://youtu.be/n0SsseK6-G0.

District I Representative Shares Video Update

Friday, October 30, 2020 - Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe District I Representative Virgil Wind provides a brief legislative update for Band members: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DGK5CTk3zU&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1ZAKpkTXPrYFBn-C2GqJRtT2BpJ8I7EM3qaiFRew5LzW32u8nRVAat0RA.

Community Development Shares Video on Plowing Plan

Mille Lacs Band Community Development Division comes together each fall to create a snow removal plan for the coming winter months. This plan details how the Public Works Roads team, Earthworks, and the Housing Maintenance Crew will work together to ensure that our roadways are clear and safe in the event of a snow storm. Assistant Commissioner of Administration Peter Nayquonabe shared a video this week about the plan: https://www.facebook.com/millelacsband/videos/3279420795490365/

The main roadways are the top priority for clearing once snow has fallen. Band Member Safety is our number one priority and clearing the main roads is our first step in the snow removal process. The roads need to be completed first ensure that any emergency vehicles are able to access the homes within each MLBO district.

Emergency on call numbers:
Dan Boyd, Housing Director – 320-630-2620
Brian Schienost, Public Works Director, 320-630-2624
Tony Pike, Roads/ Solid Waste Supervisor – 320-980-5367
Sean Racelo, Waste Water Supervisor – 218-838-8391
Mike Moilanen, Director of Planning – 320-630-2623
Chad Dunkley, Earthworks – 320-630-4763
Priscilla Boyd, Community Development Receptionist 320-532-7448

Mille Lacs Votes TV, Episode III, Hosted by Jamie Edwards

Guests: Becky Clisto-Garcia and Virgil Wind
The third episode of #Millelacsvotes TV includes special guests Rebecca “Becky” Clitso-Garcia and Virgil Wind. We want you to be informed voters. See why these two candidates are both running for a seat on the Onamia School Board.


The November issue of Ojibwe Inaajimowin was sent out on Tuesday, October 27. It is also available for download on our website: https://millelacsband.com/content/8-news/inaajimowin-archive/2011-inaajimowin.pdf.

Among many stories published this month was this article by Band member Adrienne Benjamin encouraging her fellow Natives to raise their voices on November 3: https://millelacsband.com/news/band-member-voices-raise-your-voice-on-november-3.

To follow news from around Indian Country, see https://millelacsband.com/news.


District I Halloween Party

Join the District I community on Saturday, October 31, at the OLD District 1 Community Center for an Outdoor Costume Contest! Everyone is welcome! This is an all ages event. Strict social distancing measures apply so please wear a mask.
Sponsored by: D1 Representative Virgil Wind. For questions please contact: Darla Roach at 320-532-7423 or Mikayla Schaaf 320-532-7426. See flyer below! For CDC recommendations on Halloween safety, see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays/halloween.html.

Food Handler and Harvester Training

Please join us for GLIFWC’s Traditional Model Food Code’s Food Handler and Harvester Training November 4 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. It’s a 4 hour virtual training for food handlers, harvesters, processers, food service personnel, and interested community members. The training includes: Traditional Food HACCP plans, Traditional Model Food Code and more! Participants will receive a Certificate of Completion upon completing training requirements.
Questions? Please contact project staff: LaTisha Coffin (715-685-2128) or Owen Schwartz (715-685-2147).

To register, follow this link:

Traditional Wellness Clinic

The Mille Lacs Band Departments of Natural Resources and Health and Human Services are hosting a traditional wellness clinic with Traditional Medicine Facilitator Todd Mikinaak Smith on November 5 and 6 at the Cultural Grounds wigwam in District I. Mikinaak will be available to see individuals from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day. The Cultural Grounds are located at 43504 Timber Trail Road, Onamia. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Dan Wind at 320-674-0588. Please bring your own tobacco. Social distancing protocols will be in effect.

Recovery Group Meetings

Two new recovery groups will be starting up at the old District I Community Center this week: An NA meeting on Fridays at 6 p.m. and an All Recovery group on Sundays at 6 p.m. Contact Randell S. with questions at 650-273-2214. (See flyers below.)

Many recovery meetings are also 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.

Turkey and Pie Giveaway

Due to the ongoing concerns of the pandemic, MLCV is canceling the in-person Fall Feast this year out of the care and concern for this community. In place of an in-person event, each household will receive an MLCV Turkey & Pie coupon to redeem at either Grand Casino Mille Lacs or Grand Casino Hinckley on November 13, 2020. Watch your mailbox for that coupon – exclusively for Band members.

The giveaway will be held Friday, November 13, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. at Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Grand CAsino Hinckley. At Mille Lacs, go to the south side of the Events Center, between Grand Casino Mille Lacs and MLCV Headquarters. In Hinckley, go to the outside of Ballroom Five, near the main hotel entrance.

You won’t need to get out of your vehicles, just drive up to your preferred location and we’ll take care of the rest. Turkey and pies will be given out on a first come, first served basis. See below for the flyer.

Culture Is Prevention — Online Youth Summit

Youth age 8 to 21 are invited to participate in an online summit November 16-20 sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Human Services and Department of Health. See the flyer for more information.