Zaagibagaang Anishinaabe Values in Action
The following commentary was submitted by Zaagibagaang, a grassroots effort focusing on governance and nation building within the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe (MCT). For more information, visit zaagibagaang.com.
We are in the midst of election season across the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe’s (MCT) six Bands: Bois Forte, Fond du Lac, Grand Portage, Leech Lake, Mille Lacs, and White Earth. The Secretary-Treasurer position is up for each Band, which means that 50 percent of the MCT Tribal Executive Committee (TEC) is up for election. The TEC is made up of the Chairperson and Secretary Treasurer from each of the six Bands. Therefore, the election results in your community have a big impact for all MCT members. In addition, two district seats are up for each Band, which means that a total of three of five seats on each of the Reservation Business Committee/Reservation Tribal Council are up for election. These elected leaders make and implement laws that affect our everyday life and decide how budgets will be spent on programs like health and education at the local level.
You have probably heard phrases like, “Every Vote Counts” during past tribal, state, and national elections. In small com- munities such as ours, every vote does count and can often be pivotal — elections have been won with margins of even two or three votes! The future is determined by those who show up on election day.
Your vote is more important than ever since the MCT is beginning to enter a period of constitutional reform. We have opportunities to make real and informed changes. You have the opportunity to actively shape how the MCT moves ahead with constitutional reform, and who you vote for will impact this process.
Zaagibagaang, a grassroots effort formed by MCT members that focuses on tribal governance and nation building, is focused on increasing voter awareness. With primaries around the corner — on Tuesday April 3, 2018 (polling 8 a.m.–8 p.m.) — we wanted to take this opportunity to encourage you to make your voice heard by voting.
It is important to do your research on each candidate running in your reservation’s election. Most will share their candidate positions in the tribal newsletter. Also, please keep your eyes and ears open for candidate forums where you can meet with each prospective leader in person. You may find Face- book as an important source of candidates’ stance on several issues — either on their personal or shared pages. While they may be reaching out to you in person or via standard mail, you should also feel free to find them directly to find out their plat- forms on issues that are important to you.
Your vote matters. Your vote counts. Your Band’s leadership needs to know what issues are important to you. MCT is in a state of change, and through your vote and participation, you will not not only affect changes today, but you will also shape the future for your children, grandchildren, and descendants. When you make your decision to vote, think of what is at stake.