Weekly News Summary, October 4-10


Get Out the Native Vote!

Band members are strongly encouraged to vote early at their county courthouse or by mail in order to reduce traffic at the polls and potential spread of the COVID-19 virus. You may have received an absentee ballot request form in the mail. If not, you can apply for an absentee ballot online at https://mnvotes.sos.state.mn.us/ABRegistration/ABRegistrationStep1.aspx. To watch a video of Band member Colin Cash and his reasons for voting, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPL1bbBX1xI.

Recovery group online meetings:

During COVID-19, several of our Band members have done an amazing job of shifting recovery group meetings from face-to-face to online via Zoom conferencing. This is so important and valuable to provide this service to those who are struggling with substance use disorder. Chi-Miigwech to those who are giving of their time every week, and sometimes every day, to help others in recovery.

Zooming towards Recovery, 8 p.m. every evening. Recover code is 601-532-2869, and the password is zoom800.
The Wednesday night Red Brick meeting is at 7 p.m. ID is 895 631 97923, and the password is 56359.
The Monday Migizi Meeting is also at 7 p.m. Meeting ID: 856 8473 0121. Password: 56359.

An interview with Band member Bradley Harrington

Millelacsvotes TV Hosted by Jamie Edwards presents the premiere episode: an interview with Bradley Harrington, Candidate for Mille Lacs County Commissioner, District 5. Watch for more interviews on #millelacsvotes TV coming soon. Watch the video at https://youtu.be/ELxdxm9Usrw.

Great Lakes Apple Crunch

Nay Ah Shing and Pine Grove students celebrated National Farm to School Month by crunching into locally and regionally grown apples on Thursday, October 8. K-12 schools from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio participated in lunchrooms, classrooms, and online. On October 1,2019, 815,331 students, children, teachers, and good food supporters across the region crunched. Click here for photos of our students.

Mikwendaagoziwag ceremony online

This year’s Mikwendaagoziwag (They Are Remembered) ceremony commemorating the 1850 Sandy Lake Tragedy was held via Zoom conference call on Wednesday, September 30. Over 100 Anishinaabe from Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota attended, including tribal leaders and students. Sandy Lake Tragedy Remembered in Online Ceremony.

Friendly reminder on mask safety

Commissioner’s Orders 20-01 and 20-02 require individuals to wear masks or cloth face coverings in MLBO government buildings or Band-owned businesses. As well as requires government personnel to wear gloves when entering Band Member residences to provide public service. Commissioner’s Order 20-02 is currently in effect and expires on November 30, 2020 (may be extended and will be communicated to all employees). Employees with safety concerns are asked to notify their supervisor immediately verbally or in writing or may contact Nicole Sawyer, HR Safety & Risk Manager, at extension 7550 or nicole.sawyer@millelacsband.com. If an employee fails to cooperate during the COVID-19 verification process at any time or failure to follow safety procedures, an employee may be subject to progressive discipline up to and including termination per the MLBO Policies and Procedures Manual. We appreciate your cooperation in keeping your fellow employees safe and healthy.

Census deadline extended to October 31

Band members now have until October 31 to respond to the 2020 census. We need to ensure that all Band members are counted! Federal funding of Indian tribes depends on census figures. It only takes a few minutes to respond online at https://2020census.gov/en.html.

Legislative update

The Band Assembly Weekly Summary for September 21-25 and September 28-October 2 are available on the website.

Band member photo contest

October 23 is the deadline for entries in the Mille Lacs Band’s 2020 photography contest. Twelve winners will receive $200 and have their photographs published in a 2021 calendar. One entry per Band member. Submit your entries to the Band's Instagram page (mlbononremovable) with the hashtag #2021mlbophotocontest AND email your photo to news@millelacsband.com. Include a written message about your photo. For complete rules, see https://millelacsband.com/news/2021mlbophotocontest. Photograph must be high resolution (400dpi is ideal; 300dpi is acceptable).

Video messages from the Chief Executive:

Monday, October 5, 2020 – Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides a COVID-19 update for Band members. Today, she is wearing pink in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and encourages Band members to wear pink on October 15 for National Indigenous Breast Cancer Awareness day. Chief Executive Benjamin discusses the 2020 NAFOA annual fall conference being held virtually this year. This morning she had the opportunity to interview Congresswoman Deb Haaland (D-NM-1) who is one of the first Native women to become a member of Congress and is proud to be a representative of not just New Mexico but all of Indian Country. She also interviewed Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) who is a well-respected advocate for American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians and a long-standing member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. She discussed the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Woman, Savanna’s Act, Not Invisible Act, Native American Business Incubators Program Act, and other topics.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020 – Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides a COVID-19 update for Band members as well as other information. For Band members interested in participating in the fall harvest, please contact the Mille Lacs Band DNR for information. It’s not too late to respond to the 2020 Census. The deadline to respond to the 2020 Census has been extended to October 31. If you have still not responded, please go to 2020Census.gov and respond today. Melanie announced a meeting hosted by the DI Representative’s office regarding the letter that went out to Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Elder employees about the retirement option. We want to keep our elders and community safe and take necessary precautions during this pandemic. She also reminded Band members of the debate between Vice President Michael Pence and Senator Kamala Harris, who is Joe Biden’s running mate, and she reminded Band members to vote on or before November 3. https://youtu.be/1axaWZYilL8

Thursday, October 8, 2020 — Chief Executive Benjamin provides a COVID-19 update for Band members. In addition, she reminds Band members the 2020 Census deadline has been extended. Chief Executive Benjamin also provides information from the Band Assembly meeting yesterday regarding two bills. One is regarding child support signed into law. The second is regarding a proposed elder housing policy. The Biden-Harris campaign has released a very comprehensive plan that describes how they will work with Indian tribal governments if Joe Biden wins the election. You can read the whole plan here: https://joebiden.com/tribalnations/. Chief Executive Benjamin will provide information from other candidates regarding their plan for Tribal Nations when they are available. Chief Executive Benjamin also discusses an educational session that she attended this week. Jay Kanassatega, who was the first Solicitor General of the Mille Lacs Band, provided educational sessions to elected officials, commissioners, and staff about how the divisions of powers within the Mille Lacs Band Government came to be.

Friday, October 9, 2020 — Mille Lacs Band Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides a COVID-19 update for Band members. In addition, she has a brief message for Band members regarding a letter each Band member will be receiving from Mel Towle, Mille Lacs Band Commissioner o Finance. Band members will be asked to fill out a form. Please read the form carefully as this will impact any future economic support payments to you. You will be asked to check only one box and return the form no later than October 16. A return addressed postage paid envelop is provided. Or you may fax the form back to 320-532-5402. If you have any questions, please email Danijo.Harness@millelacsband.com.

Check out more new videos at youtube.com/millelacsband:

Our Band Assembly, the Legislative Branch of tribal government, has shared three videos of presentations on Mille Lacs Band history by Don Wedll. Don was a central figure in much of our recent history, including the development of our casinos, the creation of our three-branch government, and the victory in our treaty rights battle. He is a storehouse of information, and all Band members are encouraged to watch and learn from these video presentations. Miigwech to Band Assembly for sharing!

Part 1, Video 1
Part 1, Video 2
Part 2
Part 3, Video 1
Part 3, Video 2

Baabiitaw Boyd shared a video about an early retirement option for our Elders. With the onset of COVID-19, government officials have been considering ways to help Elders who are ready to retire and spend more time at home. Baabiitaw delivers her message in the Ojibwe language, followed by English. Click here for the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afgZ5AemJzw.

Rachel Banks Kupcho from the Minnesota DFL visited the Mille Lacs Band Community on September 25 to discuss why it is important for every Native American to get out and vote. Rachel is representing the DFL, but no matter who you are voting for, your vote matters. She encourages people to make sure they are registered and then request an absentee ballot, or vote early in person, or vote on November 3. No matter how you choose to vote, every vote counts. Rachel will be back to visit The Mille Lacs Band again soon. Stay tuned for more information and dates. Click here for the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5ChzdqoWzs.

Voting Early In-Person is easy! Mille Lacs Band member Jamie Edwards walks you through the process. Voters can choose to vote absentee in person at their local elections office beginning 46 days before the election, which began September 18. Voters who choose to vote absentee in-person will have to fill out the same application as voters requesting an absentee ballot in the mail. Voters will need to fill out the same signature envelope for their absentee ballot, but will turn in their ballot directly to elections officials. To find your voting location go to https://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us.

Inaajimowin Online:

If you missed the October issue of Ojibwe Inaajimowin, you can download it here: https://millelacsband.com/content/8-news/inaajimowin-archive/2010-inaajimowin.pdf

You can also read online versions of stories at millelacsband.com/news, including:

October Message from the Chief Executive: Melanie wrote about the importance of staying vigilant in the face of COVID-19 as numbers increase around the region. She also gave highlights of her month, including the swearing-in ceremony on September 8 and a meeting with Joe Biden in Duluth. She encouraged Band members to vote on November 3 — or earlier at your county courthouse or through the mail. https://millelacsband.com/news/october-2020-message-from-the-chief-executive

Secretary-Treasurer’s Mid-term Update: Secretary-Treasurer Sheldon Boyd wrote about accomplishments of Band Assembly during the first two years of his term, current initiatives, and future plans. https://millelacsband.com/news/secretary-treasurer-s-midterm-update

Band Receives Entrepreneurship Grant: The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe has been awarded a $150,000 grant from the Minnesota Disaster Recovery Fund for Coronavirus (MDRF) to study entrepreneurism in the Mille Lacs Tribal Economy and the feasibility of a business incubator program. The MDRF is a private fund administered through the Minnesota Council on Foundations, which was designed to support the recovery and resilience of Minnesota’s nonprofit sector, including tribal nations. https://millelacsband.com/news/band-receives-entrepreneurship-grant

Urban Band Members Receive Update on Housing Project: At a meeting in Minneapolis hosted by the Chief Executive on Tuesday, September 15, urban Band members learned about a new Mille Lacs Band housing complex that will include office and meeting space. https://millelacsband.com/news/community-meeting-provides-update-on-urban-housing-project

Upcoming Events:

Indigenous Peoples Day is Monday, October 12! Mille Lacs Band government offices will be closed.

Interested in hypnosis as a tool for stress reduction, smoking cessation, or weight loss? Come to a free public health information workshop October 13 at Grand Casino Hinckley or October 20 at Eddy’s Resort in District I from 1 to 4 p.m. Registration is required, and attendance is limited. Email colleen.mckinney@hhs.millelacsband-nsn.gov to register.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and October 15 is Indigenous Pink Day. Show your support for early screening and celebrate the strength of breast cancer survivors and caregivers. Wear pink and post a selfie on Facebook or email it to colleen.mckinney@hhs.millelacsband-nsn.gov.