CANDIDATE ESSAY: Leonard “Lenny” Fineday

Chairperson Candidate: Leonard “Lenny” Fineday

Greetings fellow Leech Lake Band members! It is with excitement and anticipation that I announce my candidacy for Chairman of the Leech Lake Reservation Business Committee. I did not come to this decision lightly or quickly, but only after much prayer and consultation with others. I do not seek this office because of what I think I alone can do, but what I know we can accomplish together as the Anishinabeg of the Leech Lake Reservation.

There are a number of areas where I would like to see Leech Lake take strategic action.

Healing for our People
Overall, we as a people need healing. We face many challenges, including drug and alcohol additions, family violence, abuse and neglect of children, human trafficking, and the list goes on. Over the years, we have done a lot of work in attempting to tackle these issues one at a time in various ways. This has largely proven ineffective because most of the strategies we have employed to date have failed to address the root problems our people face: we have lost identity over the generations, including the ability to connect with each other in healthy and meaningful ways. I would work to implement a holistic system that provides a continuum of care focused on restoring our Anishinabeg identity, promoting our of way of life, and re-learning those healthy ways to connect with ourselves and with one another. The ultimate goal of this holistic approach is to bring healing to our people, balance to our families, and restoration to our communities. Utilizing this approach, we can confront and address the many problems that have plagued our families for years.

Constitutional Reform
As we work to heal ourselves, we also need to create a system of decision-making and governing that reflects who we are as Anishinabeg people and the realities of living in the 21st century. I have been very involved in the on-going Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Constitutional Reform process and will continue to promote the grass-roots efforts to reform our Constitution so it reflects who we are as a people.

Economic Development
This has been another on-going area that Leech Lake has struggled with. I believe we need to utilize an economic development corporation that will separate politics from business decisions and provide time for the corporation to grow. We are often very impatient and expect immediate results. Real and healthy economic development will take time, investment and planning.

Homelessness is a serious issue on the Reservation and providing safe, affordable and adequate housing is a necessity that we must better provide on Leech Lake. I commend our Housing Authority and feel that it has done the best it can within current limitations. But I will work with them and others to increase funding and bring more housing to Leech Lake. Another area of need that is often overlooked when discussing housing on Leech Lake is the need for affordable middle income housing. Providing places for working class people to live within our communities is very important not only to allow our people to stay on the Reservation, but is also important in helping to develop a healthy economy where dollars will circulate in our tribal communities before leaving the Reservation.

In the 21st century, education is critical. Overall, we have an educational system we can be proud of on Leech Lake, from Early Childhood to the Bugonaygeshig School to the Tribal College, I will work to build upon our past successes and strengthen our educational system.

Natural Resources
We must always do everything we can to protect our natural resources. We are very blessed at Leech Lake to hold a territory rich in water, trees and medicines. We must always be very diligent to protect and preserve these resources, remembering they were passed on to us by our ancestors and we are merely holding them for future generations. I will work hard to ensure the Superfund site in Cass Lake is finally cleaned up to an acceptable level. I will stand against those outside forces that would use Leech Lake as a pipeline super-highway or pollute our waters. I will work to restore our land base and increase our decision-making when it comes to managing the Chippewa National Forest.

I know that the answers to the challenges we face are not within one person or within one group of people, they are within all of us as a community. My vision is for us to come together as one people and address our challenges so that together, we can leave a legacy of hope and healing, of opportunity and prosperity, of pride and identity, to those future generations both born and unborn. I know the only way for us to get there is by working together as one people.

I ask for your support. Please vote Leonard “Lenny” Fineday for Leech Lake Chairman on March 31, 2020! Please call me at 218-760-1712 if you’d like to talk more.

Chi miigwech!

Leonard “Lenny” Fineday

Leonard “Lenny” Fineday for Leech Lake Chairman, Proven Leadership to Move Leech Lake Forward.