The Mille Lacs Band’s government is based on a division of powers to help ensure proper checks and balances. The Legislative branch, composed of a Secretary-Treasurer and three District Representatives, enacts laws that regulate the Band’s affairs and appropriates money for Band programs and services. The Executive branch, led by the Chief Executive, implements Band laws and administers the Band’s programs and services. The Judicial branch, or Tribal Court, upholds the Band’s laws and ensures justice is served equally to all Band members.
The Chief Executive and Secretary-Treasurer (who is the speaker of the Band Assembly) are elected to four-year terms by all Band members. They also represent the Mille Lacs Band on the Tribal Executive Committee of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe.
District Representatives are elected by the people of their respective districts to four-year terms. Band members who live off the reservation select a home district and vote only for that district’s Representative.
As a sovereign government, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe is responsible for providing services to meet the needs of its people. The Chief Executive appoints Commissioners to run Executive Branch departments, which provide services to Band members.
Executive Branch Departments:
- Department of Administration
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Department of Natural Resources
- Department of Education
- Department of Community Development
- Department of Justice
The Office of Government Affairs conducts lobbying efforts and ensures that the Band’s interests are properly represented, coordinated and monitored at the local, state and federal government levels. Office of Government Affairs: 320-532-7851. Katie Draper, Government Affairs Local Coordinator/Special Projects: 320-515-0846, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Legislative Branch, also called the Band Assembly, is made up of three District Representatives and the Secretary-Treasurer, who is also the Speaker of the Band Assembly. The Legislative Branch passes laws, allocates revenue, ratifies appointments of commissioners and oversees the Office of Management and Budget. Band Assembly meets regularly at rotating locations around the districts.
Legislative Branch Departments:
- Office of Management and Budget
- Department of Motor Vehicles
- Gaming Regulatory Authority
- Department of Athletic Regulation
Please visit millelacsbandlegislativebranch.com for more information on the Legislative Branch.
The Commissioner of Corporate Affairs operates the Band’s casinos and other businesses that are part of Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures. This Commissioner reports to both the Executive and Legislative branches.
The judicial branch of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe preserves and maintains justice and accords equal rights, equal protection, and equal opportunity for Band members under Band laws and statutes. The Band’s Court of Central Jurisdiction is made up of a District (or trial) Court and a Court of Appeals.
Current Elected Officials
Melanie Benjamin, Chief Executive — As Chief Executive of the Non-Removable Mille Lacs Band of OJibwe, Melanie Benjamin leads the Executive Branch of tribal government, which implements Band laws and programs. As Chief Executive, Benjamin is statutorily responsible for conducting external relations on behalf of the Band with all other governments and political subdivisions. Benjamin was first elected Chief Executive in 2000, and was re-elected in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016.
Carolyn Shaw-Beaulieu, Secretary/Treasurer — Carolyn Beaulieu has a long history of involvement with the Mille Lacs Band government prior to her election as Secretary-Treasurer in 2014. She began in 2001 as an executive assistant to the Commissioner of Corporate Affairs and then as associate director in the Band Member Development Department. She has also served as Commissioner of Administration and most recently as area relations/special projects coordinator for the Band’s Government Affairs Department. Carolyn earned a Master’s Degree in Tribal Administration and Governance from the University of Minnesota- Duluth. She also serves as Speaker of the Assembly.
Miskwaanakwadooquay Sandra L. Blake, District I Representative — Band member Sandra Blake was born and raised on the Mille Lacs Reservation, where she and her husband raised their three children. Blake has a bachelor’s degree in organizational development from the College of St. Scholastica and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in education. Blake was elected Mille Lacs Band District I Representative in 2008 and again in 2012; she previously served as District I Representative from 2000-2004.Blake most recently served as executive director of education for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. She has also held numerous positions within the Minnesota Historical Society at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum, as well as other positions with the Mille Lacs Band.
David “Niib” Aubid, District II Representative — District II Representative David “Niib” Aubid took office in July of 2014. District II includes East Lake, Minnewawa, Sandy Lake, Aitkin and McGregor and Isle. Aubid has lived in the East Lake village of District II for the vast majority of his life. For several years, Aubid has taught at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, prior to which he taught for 16 years at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He served as District II representative from 1974 to 1978 and ascommissioner of administration from 1984 to 1989. Aubid received an associate degree from Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College with a specialty in Ojibwe language and a degree in American Indian studies from the University of Minnesota-Duluth with a minor in linguistics.
Harry Davis, District III Representative — In June 2014 District III voters returned Harry Davis to office. He had served as representative from 1998 to 2010. District III includes the Hinckley and Lake Lena communities. During his tenure, he focused on improving the lives of Band members through housing, education and employment opportunities at the Band’s enterprises. Prior to becoming a District III representative, Davis was lead slot technician at Grand Casino Hinckley. He has also coached the Lake Lena Boxing Club. Davis resides east of Hinckley on the Mille Lacs Reservation.