Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Northern Minnesota Tribal Economic Development Summit and Trade Show

September 14-15, 2011 - Shooting Star Casino - Mahnomen, MN


The summit will explore the development of potential business and economic opportunities from which the three tribal nations and the region will grow healthy, self sufficient communities." "Information will be provided on; government business; development programs; business opportunities for tribes and individuals; accessing capital, leveraging and maximizing federal and private sector resources and much more.

The Northern Minnesota Economic Development Commission

In July 2005, then Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin invited White Earth Nation Chairwoman Erma Vizenor, Red Lake Nation Chairman Floyd “Buck” Jourdain and the former Chairman of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe George Goggleye to a joint meeting to discuss economic development initiatives and opportunities. Specifically, Chief Executive Benjamin shared information on the 2004 East Central Minnesota Business Development Summit coordinated and hosted by the Mille Lacs Band. The summit brought together representatives of businesses, government agencies, non-profits, and other organizations to discuss trends in the area and generate ideas to ensure a healthy regional economy. It was the first major development event in Minnesota to bring together the Mille Lacs Band and non-Indian groups. It was a huge success with partnerships formed leading to summits held annually. The Chairs of the three largest reservations in Minnesota embraced the idea of planning and hosting a similar economic summit in Northern Minnesota. Judy Hanks, Mille Lacs Band Government Affairs staff member, who was responsible for coordinating the Mille Lacs summit, was assigned by Chief Executive Benjamin to assist Red Lake, Leech Lake and White Earth in coordination of a similar event.

Staff from Leech Lake, Red Lake and White Earth took the lead in forming a steering committee to plan this historic event. The committee consisted of representatives from businesses, government agencies, non-profits, colleges, and other organizations from a seven county area in northern Minnesota. The committees joint planning efforts led to the first ever Northern Minnesota Reservation Economic Development Summit held on November 29 – 30, 2006 at the Shooting Star Casino & Events Center in Mahnomen, MN hosted cooperatively by the three tribes Over 400 people attended the event with 90 vendor booths representing Indian owned business and other organizations also present.

At the conclusion of the Summit, elected leadership and key staff from the three Tribal governments met with the steering committee to review summit outcomes. The summit itself was a huge success, but the group realized the overall success was dependent on what happened next. Summit outcomes supported what Tribal leadership already realized - the expanded opportunity to create and sustain an economic environment from which all three tribes good benefit through collaboration and coordination of their internal and external resources. Therefore, at the direction of tribal leadership, the steering committee developed a plan to establish the Northern Minnesota Tribal Economic Development Commission (NMTEDC). The concept of creating a Commission was endorsed by the signing of a joint resolution at a special ceremony held on March 20, 2007 at Northern Lights Casino and Events Center in Walker. This historic event was open to the public with approximately 150 in attendance. The resolution empowered the Commission to “act as a liaison between the Leech Lake Reservation, the Red Lake Reservation, and the White Earth Reservation Tribal Councils, and area partners, businesses and interested parties to develop cooperative economic development efforts and other mutually beneficial projects.”

The Commission consists of three members from each reservation appointed by their respective Tribal Council and one at-large member appointed by Commission members. Members were appointed with the Commission holding its first meeting on Friday, September 14, 2007 with meetings held on regular basis since its inception.

In September of 2009, Commission members with the support of their respective Tribal Councils recognized the need to establish a legal structure for the Commission. Establishing a corporate structure would further insulate the commission’s activities from politics and allow the Commission to go about the business of creating wealth and opportunity for the three tribes. The greatest development asset Indian nations possess is sovereignty: the power to make decisions about their own futures. By establishing a legal structure for the commission, the three nation’s governments will be creating and sustaining an economic environment in which the three Tribal governments lay in place the rules the economic players must follow and will make strategic decisions about the overall direction of the Commission. Successful and sustained economic development also requires capital, skilled personnel, strategic direction and informed action. Each of the three tribal nations invested $30,000 for a total operating budget of $90,000 to develop a solid foundation for the Commission. A consultant has been hired to assist the Commission with development of a legal structure and to secure additional funding to sustain the organization through its formative years.


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