In her State of the Band Address on January 14, Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin surprised those in attendance by announcing that Commissioner of Natural Resources Bradley Harrington had resigned his tribal government post to take an important position as tribal liaison with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Bradley (Nazhike-awaasang) is excited to begin his work at the DNR. "Serving as DNR tribal liaison furthers my desire to bring a greater understanding of native issues to state government," he said. He started his DNR job on January 27.
Bradley said he has been working with state officials, including Minnesota DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen, to improve relations with tribes and develop tribal liaison positions in response to Governor Tim Walz's Executive Order 19- 24, which requires government-to-government consultation with tribes. "The state and tribes want to work together, but there's a barrier there," said Bradley. "I see these tribal liaison positions as a way to disassemble that barrier."
DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen looks forward to working with Bradley. "I've known Brad for a number of years and I’m thrilled he has agreed to join the DNR," she said. "Brad brings to us a unique set of experiences and expertise in natural resources management, as well as a deep understanding of Minnesota tribal issues."
Commissioner Strommen has earned Bradley’s respect as well. "She's not just willing to work with us because there's an Executive Order; she sincerely wants to help," Bradley said. "Her appointment as commissioner and the Executive Order created an ideal situation."
Bradley has served as the Mille Lacs Band's Commissioner of Natural Resources since 2017 and has worked with the Minnesota DNR on a variety of wildlife and fisheries issues. Born and raised on the Mille Lacs Indian Reservation, Bradley is a lifelong student of the Ojibwe culture and language.
As DNR tribal liaison, he'll work closely with Ojibwe and Dakota communities on natural resources and tribal issues, forging stronger relations between the agency and Minnesota’s 11 Native American tribes. He also will provide strategic advice to agency leadership and serve as a resource to staff coordinating with tribal governments.
Bradley said he was able to accomplish most of what he set out to do when he was appointed Commissioner in 2017. He is especially pleased with the development of the Agriculture Program and the growth of the Fisheries Program. He also enjoyed making global connections for the Band on trips to meet Indigenous people in Hawaii and Peru.
Bradley has studied at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, Central Lakes College, the University of Minnesota (Duluth and Twin Cities campuses), the Native Nations Institute at the University of Arizona, and the Native Governance Center in St. Paul. He has received certification from the Native Nations Institute, the Blandin Foundation, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the nonprofit White Bison and Wellbriety Movement. He has facilitated activities at the tribal/state relations training events relating to Ojibwe language and culture, treaties, and federal Indian law.
Bradley is a parent of Ojibwe immersion students and works in the Mille Lacs community as an advocate for immersion education. He volunteers on local Mille Lacs committees and serves as chair of the local Indian Education Parent Committee. When he is not working on Anishinaabe language, education, and natural resources issues, he spends time with his family.