Candidate Essay: Dawn Litzau-Staples

Chairperson Candidate: Dawn Litzau-Staples

Boozhoo Niij-Anishinaabedog,

I wanted to start my essay out giving thanks to those that have offered their support and kind words of encouragement. There’s nothing easy about putting yourself up for observation and judgment, but with the strength of my family and those willing to be known by mine it makes it easier to stand up and share my beliefs with the people.

There has been deep thought put into my running for Chairwoman, not only by myself, but those around me. It’s been discussed within my household for a number of years; based on the conversation topic of what our government should be, and could be. How an idea of a better functioning tribal government could not just affect my immediate family positively, but every single person within the umbrella of our tribe. Expanding and implementing a plan for ourselves and for a better future. There has been a great deal of disempowerment within our history as Anishinaabe people, and more specifically Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe tribal members. Disempowerment supported by our struggle with generational trauma, disorganization, and lateral violence.

My goal as a candidate is to convince our people I am someone who can remedy all the scrutiny thrown upon our tribal council and uphold the integrity of our tribe. As someone who has worked with a variety of people in my lifetime as a military spouse and teacher for multiple different states and tribes; I will be an effective advocate for the visions of our indigenous peoples. I personally feel there has been a substantial amount of neglect when it comes to how we carry through with the needs of the average tribal member. Issues brought before the council should be studied and investigated so that council members have the best chance to come to an educated decision based on those topics. Budget allocation is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fixing lifelong problems within the bounds of our borders. It leads to many needed discussions about who we are as a people and how we function as a whole.

The core issues we face today are deeply rooted in the functionality of who is seated at our tribal council’s executive meetings. There have been great minds brought forward and sat in those positions, and I believe that there is a need for a Chairperson who can bring a great deal of rectitude to the table. Diplomacy is a key factor in getting ourselves back on track. Protecting our rights as tribal members and protecting our assets are one of the many issues I will be advocating for.

Creating programs and pushing them forward so our tribal members of all ages can feel supported in and out of their homes. Programs that tackle all the issues that have been brought to light. Small example; having a place for our youth and finding housing for our homeless.

I plan on fighting for these programs so one day future generations don’t have to worry about their health of any kind. Having genuine food sovereignty, mental health support, transitional housing, access to modern fitness facilities for all Leech Lakers will enable our people to have a healthy mind, body and spirit. It is important to have a cultural focus and find ways to spearhead language revitalization also. I believe that taking a look at our intertribal relations and finding ways to trade innovative ideas is an amazing way to get a majority of these programs off the ground.

Of course these are subjects that need to be talked about and pursued by our tribal council together as a whole, this isn’t just me alone who has these thoughts, but I want to make it my personal responsibility as a candidate to protect the aspirations of our community. This is no small feat so I hope you all join me in this journey to make change.


Dawn Litzau-Staples