Dear Band Members,
Boozhoo! Despite a few April snowstorms, Ziigwan (Spring) appears here to stay! The other evening, a Band member stopped by with a small spring gift to share — a few of the wild ramps she harvested, which were delicious! This small gesture and her thoughtfulness were a reminder of how easy it is to get caught up in the angry voices spreading negativity, when there is quiet kindness, love, and generosity surrounding us among the majority of Band members.
The spring ogaa harvest was a perfect example of this. Just recently, several Band members publicly offered on Facebook to share their ogaa harvest with any Elders who were unable to get out onto the lake. Some even delivered fish to Elders living in the Twin Cities! There were so many grateful responses from Elders on Facebook, and posts about the beauty of our culture and traditions. Sharing is who we are – it is in our DNA. Our spirits want to feel the joy that comes with giving to others and being compassionate and kind. Miigwech to these Band members for their generosity!
May was a full month, including meetings of the Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes, Elder meetings in each district and the urban area, Head Start graduation, and many meetings with individual Band members. The Executive Cabinet, which is comprised of the Executive Branch commissioners, met with me for a day-and-a-half meeting to work on the Band’s strategic plan. Beginning in 2015, commissioners began holding Executive Branch meetings in each district and the urban area to hear feedback about Band member priorities. As a Cabinet, we have been incorporating that feedback into the development of a new five-year plan for the Band. We are excited to share our ideas with incoming Secretary-Treasurer Sheldon Boyd and the new Band Assembly that will take office on July 9, and look forward to working cooperatively to advance initiatives that will bring positive change to the community.
Attending the first hearing in Federal District Court on our lawsuit against Mille Lacs County was a major highlight of this month. The hearing went very well, and I am grateful that we have such an excellent legal team. You can read more about this hearing on page 3.
There have been other developments internally, which were the subject of a large mailing sent to Band members by the Legislative Branch. On that note, a special meeting of the Tribal Executive Committee (TEC) of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe will be held to address these matters on Monday, June 11, at Grand Casino Mille Lacs, beginning at 9 a.m.
This meeting will be very informative, so please mark your calendars. I encourage and invite all Mille Lacs Band members who are able to attend to do so. If you are a Band employee, keep in mind that the policy of the Executive Branch to allow all employees who are MCT members to attend TEC meetings as time worked, so long as you have permission from your supervisor. I am looking forward to the opportunity to fully and thoroughly address the issues that have been brought up, and to do so on our own reservation.
Finally, congratulations to all the graduates this spring, from Head Start up to college — making advances in education is the way we will address social ills in our community. All of you graduates give us great hope!
While negativity sometimes seems to be everywhere, it is only because negativity, anger, and even hatred often attract more attention than kindness, compassion, generosity, and love. As hard as it can be, I try myself to focus on the good things — like the beauty of our people, traditions, and culture. We have been given so many gifts as Anishinaabe, and we also have gifts to share with others. Chi Miigwech to all the Band members who quietly live out our values each day and remind us of who we are. Have a wonderful month!