Walker-The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe held its official inauguration ceremony, Friday July 8th at the Northern Lights events center.
The inauguration event featured the swearing in of all newly elected candidates for the Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig school board, Leech Lake Housing Authority Board members, and RBC District I Representative, District II Representative and Secretary-Treasurer.
The invocation was performed by Michael Smith Sr. and Michael Smith Jr., with posting of the colors done by the Leech Lake Color Guard.
Tribal Chairman Faron Jackson welcomed the newly elected officials and delivered a speech that reflected on the importance of unity and developing strong working relationships.
“The key to success is working together…it should never be us against them, I’ve always stated from day one, “we’re all in this together.” All of our families face the same issues everyday in the three districts and we need unity to overcome this. We need to remember our Grandfather Teachings and keep them at the forefront of everything we do, everyday“ said Jackson.
Jackson’s speech was followed by short remarks from each of the RBC district representatives and secretary treasurer, who thanked community members for their votes and shared their hope for advancing the band throughout their terms.
Closing out the inauguration was the first Native American woman to sit on the Minnesota Supreme Court, Associate Justice Anne K. McKeig who delivered remarks celebrating the reservations triumphs and instilled words of wisdom to all elected officials.
All officials sworn in will serve four year terms, and will serve the community in their respective positions, until 2026.
The regular Quarterly Meeting of the Leech Lake Tribal Council was held at 1:00PM on Friday, July 8th at Northern Lights Casino. It was the first in-person quarterly meeting held since 2019.
Tribal Chairman Faron Jackson Sr. gave the opening remarks followed by a financial report from newly elected Secretary-Treasurer, Lenny Fineday. The report featured financial data from both government and gaming operations. You can read the full Secretary-Treasurer’s report at: https://www.leechlakenews.com/secretary-treasurer-financial-report/
A number of resolutions concerning enrollment were passed at the meeting. These resolutions included new enrollments, ineligible enrollments, and transfers to and from the band. New employees hired in the past quarter were also introduced and welcomed at the meeting.
Last on the agenda were presentations from Division Directors in attendance on their activities over the past three months. For those who were unable to attend in person, a livestream of the event is available on the official Leech Lake Vimeo and Facebook page.
Quarterly Meetings are held every three months on a rotating schedule between each district on the reservation. The next Quarterly Meeting will be held in October 2022.
Quarterly Report Summaries
Twin Cities Office
- Office building is in need of repairs to meet safety and city ordinance.
- 159 food boxes were distributed through the Twin Cities office and curbside delivery for elders.
- 800 masks were distributed to band members through the Twin Cities office and curbside delivery for elders.
- 10 COVID antigen tests were distributed to band members through the Twin Cities office and curbside delivery for elders.
- 83 Tribal IDs were created during Tribal ID days June 9th and June 10th.
- Sewing and Beading programming ran for 6 weeks.
- There were 107 new cases filed between April 1st, 2022 and June 31st, 2022.
- The court conducted 285 hearings the past quarter.
- The Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI) group met April 8th, May 13th, and June 10th, 2022.
- The remodel of the HR office continues, the new benefits office should be completed within the next quarter. This will free up the current benefits office to be modified and donated to MIS for expansion of their office space.
- In the last quarter HR has begun work with LL Gaming to create a universal policy regarding drug testing that would be applicable to all LL entities. HR will work with all divisions to determine which positions are safety sensitive and will require drug testing.
- LL Gaming will be transitioning to swab-testing as the primary method of drug testing with the UA process being retained as a secondary method of testing.
- Wage and salary schedule has been revised to reflect the new minimum wage ($15/hour.)
- The online portal for training modules is live and as of June 16th, 2022 there is a 40% activity rate for current enrolled users.
- 35 new employees attended new employee orientation between April 1st, 2022 and June 31st, 2022.
- 21 employees attended LL Civics with Levi Brown between April 1st, 2022 and June 31st, 2022.
- The process of updating all Tribal existing case files into a new software for staff will be completed by July 1st and Minnesota case files are expected to be completed by the end of next quarter.
- The work with DRM and special environmental council OGden Murphy Wallace on the St.Regis Superfund site towards settling Natural Resource Damages is progressing.
- The negotiations with the City of Cass Lake for potential settlement of NRD liability have reached an agreement. Details are being worked out and should be finalized within the next 6 months.
- The federal multidistrict opioid litigation is moving slowly but settlements are moving towards a final approval.
- The Legal department is actively working with DRM/Government relations in efforts to oppose the construction of a OSB manufacturing facility that would be located in Cohasset,MN, 1 mile east of the reservation boundary.
- Education administration held the second of two Tribal consultations with CLB schools.
- The Education Director served as a research fellow on the TRUTH(Towards Recognition and University-Tribal Healing) project, which focused on sharing Tribal history through our own lens. More information on the project can be found on the UMN website.
- Post Secondary Education awarded 183 students funding for SY 21-22.
- Cass Lake Bike Trail project is scheduled to be finished by 2022.
- Bena Bike trail project will be bid out in 2022, and construction is expected to be completed in 2023.
- The Health Division is currently working on implementing a new work plan for the department.
- The Health Division organization chart has been redesigned and will be presented next quarter.
- Established monthly meetings with IHS to clear up community member billing issues.
- Hosted the Spirit Run across the Reservation in May 2022.
- There has been a steady increase rate of COVID 19 cases during the month of June.
- There is a large volume of home test kits, masks and sanitizing equipment available for community use and distribution when needed.
- Pets for Life programing has been successful and care/rehoming of animals has been getting continuously easier for staff on project as connections are made with outside networks and veterinary staff.
- Land is expected to be broken in Fall 2022 for building of a veterinary clinic.
Department of Resource Management
- Work on the Huber Frontier Project will continue for the next two quarters.
- BIA identified another 4,362 acres of secretarial land transfers in Cass County to add to the original listing. LL DRM staff are working to review lands that will be transferred.
- Brandy Toft was promoted from Environmental Deputy Director to Interim Environmental Director in December 2021. She has been intermittently serving as interim ED as appropriate.
- Environmental program hosted kickoff events for City of Cass Lake St.Regis and Brownfield redevelopment work.
- Housing initiative work continues, next Wilder Foundation survey regarding homelessness on reservations will take place in October 2022.
- In addition to expanding housing options on the Reservation, substandard homes need to be addressed. Only 3% of homes on the Reservation are newer housing. 1/3rd of all housing units are over 50 years old.
- Land use planning continues with the department currently looking for building sites in all three districts.
- The Capital Improvement Plan for the Reservation was passed by the Tribal Council May 24th.
- Tribal Development website is currently nearing completion. Website will be Band Member login only that features basic demographics, various statistics, interactive maps and documents.
- Food security research and development continues.
- Tribal Development has launched a weekly newsletter, newsletter is distributed through employee email system.
- Radon Control Technicians inspected 8 radon mitigation systems, installed 1 mitigation system and tested 60 homes for radon.
- Inspectors conducted 215 unit inspections during the reporting period.
- The modernization department renovated 19 homes during the reporting period.
- Project VII development: 10 new tenants have occupied homes, 5 more units will be ready in July 2022 and 15 more units will be ready for occupancy in August 2022.
Quarterly Meeting Video