By Makadegwanebiikwe Mikayla Schaaf
Mille Lacs Band Descendant and Community Member
District 1 Representative Virgil Wind was sworn into office at the Biidaabinookwe Government Center on September 8, 2020. In the race for District 1 Representative, Virgil received 57.12 percent while incumbent Sandra Blake received 42.88 percent of the 646 ballots cast for District 1 Representative.
Although Virgil has been in office for a little less than two weeks, he has hit the ground running. "It's been a learning curve, but there has been a lot of good ongoing work behind the scenes," said Virgil. "I was really pleased with the amount of work happening within Legislative already to revise statutes, which I wouldn’t have seen from the outside looking in. This is one of the highlights that keep me going, knowing that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel, and with the great Legislative staff, you can see that these things were already happening. It feels as if there was a leap forward in that whole process that I didn’t know about, and the assistance in my transition has been amazing. I wouldn’t know where I would be without the staff here. I don’t know how I would have picked up the pieces without the people that have helped."
Aside from his dedication to Mille Lacs Band members and the community, Virgil is also dedicated to his family. He enjoys time with his life partner Nicole and five kids: Dionne, Josh, Keenan, Jacob, and Emma. They spend time on outings at the lake and also engage in physical activity. “On Sundays, I dedicate that one day to my family,“ said Virgil. "We used to call it 'Keenan's day.' We enjoy doing things that we all love as a family, and it helps keep us strong and keeps us grounded."
Virgil continues to maintain his steadfast collaborative approach to get things accomplished for the betterment of band members. "I'm going in knowing that my personal feelings and biases really don't count at all compared to the needs of 4,800 Band members who want to leave a better world for our future generations. If we take a collaborative approach mentality and maintain the willingness to have hard conversations as a team and as a family, we will be worlds ahead of where we are today."
Virgil has served as the Onamia Public School Board Chairman, local Indian parent committee member, businessman, and independent contractor. He is running for School Board once again this fall.
"As the Onamia Public School chairman, I have learned valuable lessons on leadership," he said. "One of the most important aspects of this work has been empowering people and bridging communities, something I hold in high regard. I value every lesson I have learned along the way as they made me who I am today, a resilient and compassionate leader. I pledge to always have the best interest of the Band at the heart of every decision and will always have an open door. I am ready to listen to the Band members and get to work for the community."
Under the Legislative branch, the Band Assembly consists of the Secretary-Treasurer, who serves as Speaker, and one representative from each of the reservation’s three districts: District I — Mille Lacs; District II — Minisinaakwaang, Sandy Lake, Minnewawa, and Chiminising; and District III — Aazhoomog and Hinckley.