COVID-19 Information

Chief Executive Reminds Band Members that Stay-At-Home Order Goes Into Effect Today

Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin spoke to Band members today about the Stay-At-Home Order signed yesterday, which goes into effect tonight at 11:59 p.m. — the same time as the statewide Order issued by Governor Tim Walz. Melanie also reports on nutritional service provided for students and Elders.

Chief Executive, Secretary/Treasurer Send Letter to Band Members Regarding Stay-At-Home Order

Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin and Secretary-Treasurer Sheldon Boyd shared this letter to explain Mille Lacs Band Executive Order 2020-5, a stay-at-home order, which Band Members are asked to do their best to comply with. This letter was distributed to Band Members on March 26. The MLB order goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. tonight, Friday, March 27, simultaneously with Governor Walz's order for Minnesotans to stay at home. The impact of the State and Band orders are nearly identical, except that the MLB order includes a statement making clear that the MLB order does not apply to ceremonial life/gatherings or the exercise of hunting, fishing, and gathering rights. Miigwech. #StayHomeMLBO #StayHomeMN #AnishinabeStrong Click here to read the letter.

Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Shares Revised Election Calendar; Absentee Ballot Request Form Available

On March 24, the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe’s Tribal Executive Committee (TEC) voted 7-4 in favor of Resolution 65-20, which postpones the tribal primary election until June 9 and the general election until August 18 due to coronavirus.

On March 26, the MCT released a Revised Election Calendar. Click here to view the calendar.

Secretary/Treasurer Sheldon Boyd and Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin voted against the change after Sheldon consulted with the Election Board members, who wanted the primary to go ahead as planned on March 31.

All absentee ballots that have been cast already are still valid. The MCT is requiring that each Reservation Election Board store all ballots received under lock and key until the June 9 primary. More information will be coming from the MCT on this topic.

Absentee Ballot Request Form — Word Version

Absentee Ballot Request Form — PDF Version

Public Health Director Shares Tips on Self-Protection, At-Home Quarantining, and Self-Monitoring

HHS Public Health Director Lisa has provided some education materials that remind us how to protect ourselves and also give guidelines to those who may be required to self-monitor or quarantine themselves at home. Please take a moment to check out the flyers and share with others. Miigwech!

Wewinabi Inc. Shares Update on Band-owned Businesses

Due to recent updates and state orders, Wewinabi Inc. has made modifications to some business operations.

Tesoro MLB Convenience Store and Subway is closing March 27, 2020, at 6 p.m. for a minimum of two weeks.

Grand Market will remain open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, with 8 – 9 a.m. reserved for elder/vulnerable population. The Deli is closing March 27 – 29, 2020, and will reopen on Monday, March 30, with new hours.

East Lake Convenience Store: Effective, March 29, 2020, the store will be open Monday – Saturday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and will be closed on Sundays.

Crossroads Convenience Store is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Grand Makwa: Temporary closure is in place.

Grindstone Laundry – temporary closure in place

Super Stop hours have changed to 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Taco Johns is open for drive-through only from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Please continue to visit our facebook page for further updates.

Nas Ah Shing Abinoojiiyag Updates Students, Families

As teachers and staff at Abinoojiiyag prepare to send boxes filled with fun new ways for students to learn, they took a few moments to send messages to the kiddos. Miigwech to the staff, paras and teachers who are creative and caring. Miigwech to all students. You are all awesome.

Chief Executive's Daily Video Update

Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides a YouTube update on the Band's response and preparation for COVID-19, including new state funding and the Stay-at-Home order.

HHS Commissioner Provides Video Update

Health and Human Services Commissioner Nicole Anderson shared a video update with Band members, including an overview of clinic and departmental operations and phone numbers. The HHS Department will continue to provide services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Updates will be provided as changes occur. #StayHomeMLBO

Commissioner of Administration Updates Employees on Operations while Stay-At-Home Order is in Place

Commissioner of Administration Baabiitaw Boyd shared a memorandum with employees to describe tribal government operations that will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 27, when the Mille Lacs Band's Stay-At-Home Order takes effect. Click here to read the memorandum.

HHS Shares Important Contact Numbers

Tribal Court Is Now Closed Until Further Notice

Mille Lacs Band Tribal Courts are temporarily closed. For immediate questions please call (320) 532-7400.
Due to the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Mille Lacs Band Court of Central Jurisdiction has implemented a TEMPORARY e-filing system. ALL PLEADINGS AND OTHER DOCUMENTS THAT ARE TO BE E-FILED WITH THE COURT MUST BE EMAILED TO:

Family Violence Prevention Program Still Providing Advocacy

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Family Violence Prevention Program is still providing advocacy for domestic violence, sexual assault, elder abuse, and human trafficking.

24/7 Crisis Line: 1-866-867-4006

Shelter Manager: 320-630-2677

FVPP Administrator: 320-630-2499

CSS Director: 320-630-2687

Elder Abuse Advocates:
Cynthia Guernsey: 320-362-4941
Mike Davis: 320-630-7666

Sexual Assault Program:
Kala Roberts: 320-630-2691
Petra Mauricio: 320-362-4995

Victims of Crime:
Melissa Sanvig: 320-364-3568

Community Advocates:
Nanette DesJarlais: 320-362-0642
Winnie Davis: 320-674-0790
Kris Sheppard: 320-630-3811

We are ensuring the health and safety of everyone during this time. We are currently only providing transports and advocacy at an emergency basis. All staff are available by the numbers provided.

Isle Schools Update

Superintendent Dean Kapsner sent a letter to parents of children in the Isle School District. Click here for page 1 and here for page two.

Chief Executive Signs Stay At Home Order

On March 25, Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin signed Executive Order 2020-05 providing a stay at home order for all persons enrolled with the Non-Removable Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa Indians or any other federally-recognized tribe.

Chief Executive's video update on Stay At Home Order

Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin gave a video update for Band members on the stay at home order she signed on March 25 as well as the statewide stay at home order signed by Governor Tim Walz.

Chief Executive's Video Update: Tribal Primary Election Postponed

Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provided an update to Band members on the postponement of the tribal primary election to June 9 by the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe's Tribal Executive Committee. The TEC voted 7-4 to move the primary, with representatives from Mille Lacs and Grand Portage voting against. Click here for the video.

MCT Postpones Tribal Primary Until June 9, General Election Until August 18

On March 24, the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe’s Tribal Executive Committee (TEC) voted 7-4 in favor of Resolution 65-20, which postpones the tribal primary election until June 9 and the general election until August 18 due to coronavirus.

Secretary/Treasurer Sheldon Boyd and Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin voted against the change after Sheldon consulted with the Election Board members, who wanted the primary to go ahead as planned on March 31.

Grand Portage Chairwoman Beth Drost and Secretary/Treasurer April McCormick also voted against the measure.

Resolution 65-20 also amends the Election Ordinance by adding Section 1.12, which reads in part: "Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Tribal Executive Committee postpones the 2020 elections due to the coronavirus pandemic to protect the health, safety, and welfare of Tribal members."

The resolution also waives the notice requirements for a Special Meeting to address emergency matters pursuant to the Revised Constitution and Bylaws and allows business to be conducted during the Special Meeting by a conference call to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The TEC met March 24 by Zoom video-conference with the sole purpose of deciding how to handle the upcoming MCT elections in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin, the TEC considered several options, including taking no action and eliminating the primary.

All absentee ballots that have been cast already are still valid. The MCT is requiring that each Reservation Election Board store all ballots received under lock and key until the June 9 primary. More information will be coming from the MCT on this topic.

Chief Executive's Daily Update

Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin shared another update on the COVID-19 situation.

Beware of COVID-Related Scams

Medicare recipients (and others): Beware of COVID-19 scams, and NEVER provide your Social Security number or bank account or other information to any caller!

Scammers may use COVID-19 as an opportunity to steal your identity and commit Medicare fraud. In some cases, they might tell you they'll send you a Coronavirus test, masks, or other items in exchange for your Medicare number or personal information. Be wary of unsolicited requests for your Medicare number or other personal information.

It's important to always guard your Medicare card like a credit card and check your Medicare claims summary forms for errors. Only give your Medicare number to participating Medicare pharmacists, primary and specialty care doctors or people you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf. Remember, Medicare will never call you to ask for or check your Medicare number.

More Info

For more information on protecting yourself from fraud and reporting suspected fraud, visit

Chief Executive's Daily Video Update

Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin reflects on treaty rights in the midst of COVID-19.
Click here for the video.

Extra update on government operations.

Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Shares Free or Low-Cost Internet Resources

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has shared information about low-cost Internet service, low-cost devices, and learning content. Click here for details.

Early Ed Drive-up Open 8 to 10:30 a.m.

The MLEE Friday Drive-Up is open until 10:30 am for Early Head Start and Head Start Drop-Offs!
The Food & Supply Bags and Book of the Day and Book Bingo is ready to go for our families.
Hot coffee for the parents!
Roll on up to Wewinabi!

Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan says #StayHomeMN

As cases of COVID-19 continue to increase across Minnesota, Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan are launching a campaign called “#StayHomeMN” to encourage everyone to help stop the spread by staying home if they can.

Chief Executive Benjamin recommends that we watch this video from the Lieutenant Governor and participate in the #StayHomeMN campaign.

Click here to watch the video.

StrongHearts Native Helpline Will Continue to Offer Services During COVID-19 Pandemic

StrongHearts Native Helpline acknowledges that this is a very difficult time for all Native people. We are very concerned about those most vulnerable including those who may be in unhealthy or abusive relationships; therefore, we will continue to operate and offer our services as long as possible.

At the StrongHearts office, we are taking the directed social distancing protocols very seriously. As such, callers may experience longer call wait times. Callers may press one at any time to be transferred to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, a non-Native Hotline. The Hotline is also responding to the directed protocols so callers may experience extended call wait times.

Please note that the StrongHearts website and social media sites are not equipped for support services.

We hope that this situation is temporary. Again, we will continue to operate and offer our services daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Central Daylight Time. We apologize for any disruptions in service and thank all of our Native communities for your patience and understanding.

We are here. We are ready to listen.


Video update from Governor Tim Walz

Chief Executive Benjamin recommends that we watch this video and participate in Governor Walz's #StayHomeMN campaign. Click here to watch the video.

As cases of COVID-19 continue to increase across Minnesota, the Walz Administration is launching a campaign called “#StayHomeMN” to encourage everyone to help stop the spread by staying home if they can.

Daily video update from Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin

Click here for the Chief Executive's daily update.

Hours for Grand Market and convenience stores

Mille Lacs Band businesses will be open during the following hours until further notice. Please keep in mind times are subject to change and further updates will be made.

Grand Market: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
MLB Tesoro: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
East Lake and Crossroads: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Super Stop: 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Child Support Update

Child Support wage checks will be available for pick up Friday, March 20, from 8 to 10 a.m. unless you are on the Do Not Mail list. Please call Rachel Sablan at 320-532-7461 for pick up.

Commissioner of Administration Baabiitaw Boyd shares video update

Click here to hear an update on the Tribal TANF program from Commissioner Boyd.

Early Education releases video update on food service

Click here to learn about the Early Education department's food service efforts while programs are not in session.

Early Education Food and Supplies available by drive-up, bus

Mille Lacs Early Education's drive-up food and supply service is open to all District I Early Head Start students and Head Start non-bus riders. Please stop at the Wewinabi Early Education building between 8:30 and 10 a.m. daily to pick up your child's food and supply boxes.

This will be ongoing until otherwise specified.

District I, II, and III bus routes will continue as well, if your child has been receiving their food and supply boxes via the bus. This will also continue until otherwise specified.

Early Education staff are available to help as much as possible. Call 320-532-7590 with questions or concerns.

Chief Executive Gives Daily Video Update

Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin prepared a video update for Band members on March 17 that is available on YouTube. Click here to watch the video.

Tribal TANF Enacts Measures to Keep Families Safe

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic TANF will be enacting measures to keep our families safe.

You can read the details here or go to the Aanjibimaadizing page on the website, which also has the Household Report Form some families will need to fill out:

Wewinabi Inc. Reports on Operations at Grand Market, Grand Makwa, restaurants, and convenience stores.

Wewinabi, Inc. is prepared to care and assist the community through this challenging time to flatten the curve and reduce the spread of illness.

Due to the changing circumstances we have taken a proactive approach to our diverse business portfolio and they are highlighted below.

Click here for more.

Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin's Video Update on COVID-19

Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin prepared a video update for Band members on March 17 that is available on YouTube. Click here to watch the video.

Health and Human Services Department Issues Report on State of Operations

On March 17, Commissioner of Health and Human Services Nicole Anderson released a report on the state of HHS operations. The report updates Band members on clinic services, public health and ALUs, substance use programs, community support services, and family services.

Click here for detailed information.

Community Development Identifies Core Services to Be Provided

Acting Commissioner of Community Development Peter Nayquonabe issued a memorandum this morning to identify core services that will be provided by the Department in the event of a partial or near-complete shutdown of the Tribal Government as a result of a potential COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

Click here for the complete memorandum.

Tribal Court Update

Interim Chief Justice Ramona Applegate shared Chief Justice Court Order 53 on March 17 regarding operations of the Mille Lacs Band Court of Central Jurisdiction (Tribal Court) under the Band-wide and State-wide emergency. The order outlines procedures for hearings, trials, filing, and prioritization of cases. To read the Order, click here.

Aanjibimaadizing Update

Aanjibimaadizing Executive Director Tammy Wickstrom sent out an update regarding WEX programming, youth programming, TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), and other services. For the complete update, click here.

Band Member Legal Aid Updates

Temporary contacts for Band Member Legal Aid are as follows:

Kerri Johnson: 320-232-7731
Alan Shepard: 320-232-7732
Peter Nickitas: 651-238-3445
Shannon Nayquonabe, Paralegal: 320-496-7159
Phone for criminal court contact: 612-280-9617
Phone for civil court contact: 320-630-2122

Power of Attorney/ Delegation of Parentage paperwork will need to be sent directly from the individual giving powers to the person receiving the powers. Our office will not be able to assist with this at this time.

Please contact the county/state court administrator before you head out to any court appearances. The courts have been rapidly rescheduling appearances. All notices will be mailed to your last known address.

Please check the Tribal Court webpage for any Tribal Court updates and appearance information.

Court Transport is NOT available until March 30, 2020 or when determined to be safe and the Government Center is reconvened at normal operation.

Elder Services Provides Meals for Elders

In a community effort to keep everyone safe and healthy, the Elder Services Program will package meals for Elders who regularly come to the dining site.

On Tuesday, Elders will be able to pick up three pre-packaged lunches. Staff will meet them at the front door. These meals are for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

On Friday, a package of 14 meals will be ready to pick up around noon. If you do not feel that you can pick them up, please notify Denise to schedule delivery. Please know that your patience is greatly appreciated and this is a solution that will help keep you, your family, and the larger community at less risk.

For those already on HOME DELIVERY:

• Mondays meal will be delivered.
• Tuesday you will receive 3 delivered meals.
• Friday you will receive 14 meals.

Any questions, please contact:
Denise Sargent, Elder Services Coordinator Direct: 320-532-7854
Doreen Mitchell Elder Services Program Assistant Direct: 320-532-7532

Nay Ah Shing Schools Delivering Meals to Students

Nay Ah Shing Schools, with tremendous support from Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures, will provide meals for K-12 students starting today, March 17, and continuing through the short term closure.

Delivery service is provided by Nay Ah Shing Transportation Department. Breakfast kits will be delivered with lunches starting this week as well, provided by Nay Ah Shing Nutrition department.

Cedar Available from DNR Cultural Resources

This week the Cultural Resources Team gathered giizhikaandag/giizhik (cedar) to be shared for those that may need it as we are faced with the growing COVID-19 virus in Minnesota. Giizhik has many benefits to promote healthy immune systems along with aiding illness. By ingesting giizhik aniibiish (tea), it may assist with digestion, fever, sore throat, cough, cold, bronchitis and pneumonia.

If you are able to gather and share giizhik with family members, please do so. If you are unable to gather giizhik, and would like to have some on hand, please contact one of the names below for assistance.

Daga miizh asamaa wii-nandomad awiya da-azhe-miinik mashkiki. Daga asemaakaw awiya da-naadimishkikiitamook. Please offer your tobacco for the medicines, people who harvested, families and communities. Miigwech!

D1: Dan Wind 320-364-9528, Todd Moilanen 320-515-1903
D2 East Lake: Daryl Aubid, Todd M. 320-515-1903
D2a: Todd M. 320-515-1903
D3: Vanessa Gibbs via Facebook messenger or Katie Draper 320-515-0846
Urban: Wahbon Spears 612-872-4265 or 612-360-5486

Grand Casino Announces Temporary Closure

Grand Casino announced a voluntary, temporary closure of casino operations at Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Grand Casino Hinckley starting at 4 p.m. on March 16 to help fight the spread of COVID-19. The initial plan is for a 14-day closure, but conditions will be reassessed before a firm reopen date is announced. While there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 at either property, Grand Casino sees this as a responsible, proactive decision that places the wellbeing of its Associates, Guests, and local communities at the forefront.

For the entire announcement, click here.

Tribal Government Reduces Staffing Levels

On March 16, the Tribal Emergency Response Committee (TERC) took action to protect the health of tribal government employees and the community as a whole by voluntarily reducing staffing levels at government buildings to critical staff only.

For the letter from the TERC and a list of critical staff and contact numbers, click here.

If you are experiencing any cold or flu symptoms, please call the Ne-Ia-Shing nurse hotline 320- 630-0855.

Early Education Program Closed Until Futher Notice

Effective March 17, the Mille Lacs Early Education Childcare, Early Head Start and Head Start will be closed until further notice. Food & Supply Boxes will be distributed to all Early Head Start and Head Start Families in Districts 1, 2 and 3. For information on deliveries, click here.

State of Emergency Declared

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin signed an Executive Order on Sunday, March 15, declaring that the Band is in a State of Emergency, while the Band Assembly — composed of Secretary/Treasurer Sheldon Body and District Representatives Sandra Blake, Marvin Bruneau, and Wally St. John —passed Ordinance 27-20, The Emergency Management Act, establishing Title 27 within the Mille Lacs Band Statutes Annotated. Title 27, which will be titled Emergency Management, gives the Chief Executive authority to carry out certain emergency measures necessary to ensure the health and well-being of Band Members.

Please click here for a letter to Band members from Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin and Secretary/Treasurer Sheldon Boyd.

Emergency Response Plan Being Developed

Band officials and staff worked around the clock March 15 and 16 to finalize implementation of the Band’s Emergency Response Plan to minimize the risk of COVID-19 spread in our Band community, and to ensure emergency preparedness in the event that COVID-19 reaches our community. Chief Executive Benjamin, Secretary-Treasurer Boyd and the Band Assembly are right now finalizing the plan which will be announced today on Facebook,and letters will be delivered to Band Member homes tomorrow, Monday, March 16. Please keep watch for those updates. A separate announcement regarding school closures will be shared shortly.

Nay Ah Shing Schools Will Be Closed Beginning Tuesday, March 17

Due to concerns regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus), beginning on Tuesday, March 17, the Band's K-12 programs in the Nay Ah Shing school system will close for two weeks with a plan of reopening on March 30. Daycare will remain open at this time. This follows suit with the Governor’s 10 a.m. announcement on Sunday, March 15, that all Minnesota and public and charter schools close for this period as well. Band educators and staff will also use this time to make plans for the possibility of needing to institute long-distance learning. Nay Ah Shing School’s priority remains the educational needs and health of students, staff and community. More detailed information will be shared with families early this week through the schools.

The last day of classes for Nay Ah Shing K-12 students will be Monday, March 16. Monday will begin with Pipe and Dish as usual, and then students will have classes and meet with their teachers to discuss these developments. Students will be bringing home their books and supplies to prepare for distance learning. This only impacts K-12 students in Nay Ah Shing School and Pine Grove Learning Academy. Again, there will be no K-12 classes beginning on Tuesday, March 17. Nay Ah Shing Schools appreciate the Band community's assistance with sharing this information with the caregivers of our K-12 students at Nay Ah Shing and Pine Grove. Miigwech.

Employee Update

Please click here for a March 15 update for employees from Commissioner of Administration Baabiitaw Boyd.

Emergency Response Committee Activated

On Saturday, March 14, the Mille Lacs Band's Tribal Emergency Response Committee (TERC) held an all-day special meeting to process new information on the coronavirus (COVID-19) and continue to plan for a potential outbreak to keep Band members as safe as possible.

The TERC will continue to meet regularly, and updates will be sent to all elected and appointed officials as the situation changes.

For more on the TERC, see below.

As of March 14, there are 21 confirmed cases of the virus in Minnesota but none in Mille Lacs Band communities. Cases have been confirmed in the following counties: Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Olmsted, Ramsey, Stearns and Wright. The Minnesota Department of Health reports that 868 tests have been conducted.

Band Member Update on COVID-19

Message from Early Education Department on Cancellation of Classes Monday, March 16, for Cleaning — Classes will resume March 17

Message from Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm



District II and III fisheries meetings scheduled for March 16 and 17 have been canceled.

Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College registration events scheduled for March 18 and 19 are canceled.

Ge-Niigaanizijig youth programming and events are canceled through March 27.

The Treaty Day events scheduled for March 19 and 20 have been postponed.

March sobriety feasts and community meetings have been canceled.

Nay Ah Shing and Pine Grove schools are closed beginning March 17.

The District 1 Community Center has cancelled all public events from now through the month of April. (Previously the gym was scheduled to remain open in the evenings in March, but that is no longer the case.)

The March Bi-wiidoopamishinaag elder gathering at Grand Makwa Cinema scheduled for March 18 has been canceled.

Early Education classes will be canceled on Monday, March 16, for deep cleaning of all facilities. Classes are scheduled to resume on Tuesday, March 17.

About the Tribal Emergency Response Committee

The Mille Lacs Band government has a designated committee charged with planning for situations like the Corona Virus outbreak and springing into action if needed: the Tribal Emergency Response Committee.

In 2000, the Band was one of five tribes from FEMA Region V to receive an initial startup grant to create a Tribal Emergency Management program. One of the key components of the grant was for the Band to create a unified decision-making body for incidents called a Tribal Emergency Response Committee (TERC).

The TERC responds to incidents that require efforts beyond normal day-to-day operations, such as a hazardous materials spill or severe weather damage.

Tribal leadership determined that the TERC should consist of Executive Branch Commissioners, a backup for each Commissioner, and representation from Tribal Police, Tribal Emergency Management, and Tribal Public Information Officers.

Since 2000 the TERC has participated in exercises to test their readiness ability, partnering with county, regional and state agencies. As membership has changed, new members have been mentored by seasoned TERC members with assistance from the Tribal Emergency Management Coordinator, Monte Fronk.

Helpful links:

CDC – COVID-19 Situation Summary
CDC – Coronavirus for Businesses – Coronavirus for Schools
Bureau of Indian Education Statement