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Leech Lake flag raised in Grand Rapids as a symbol of partnership

[Sept. 12, 2013, Grand Rapids, Minn.]—Hundreds of students, business owners, workers, public officials and community members gathered today to raise in downtown Grand Rapids the flag of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. Carri Jones, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe tribal chairwoman, presented flags for the Itasca County Courthouse and the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce/Depot Commons, which were raised by color guards from Leech Lake and Grand Rapids.

“These flags are a visible commitment that Grand Rapids be a welcoming place for all peoples, of all ages, to live, visit, attend school, work and shop,” said Bud Stone, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce president. “This is a next step in building bridges from our shared past to our shared future.”

A previous Leech Lake Tribal flag installation was made in Grand Rapids in February 2008, when a joint powers agreement was signed between the Leech Lake Tribal Court and the District Court of the 9th Judicial District in Itasca County to exercise jurisdiction simultaneously.

“In 2008, we signed the joint powers agreement and installed the flag inside the courthouse with the theme , ‘Building a Legacy of Hope’,” said Judge Korey Wahwassuck. “Today we are here to build on that work.”

Stone and Wahwassuck are members of the Circle of Healing, which sponsored this second flag installation with the Leech Lake Tribal Council, Itasca County, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce and the Grand Rapids Human Rights Commission. Circle of Healing is a group of native and non-native people in the Itasca County area interested in shared learning and building cross-cultural relationships. The group focuses its efforts on increasing awareness about the impacts of Native American historical trauma, and supporting positive relationships between Native and non-Native communities for present and future generations.

Also participating in the Sept. 12 flag-raising event were Leech Lake elder and spiritual leader Mike Smith and Bug O Nay Ge Shig Silver Eagle Drum Group. Remarks were added by the Honorable Lois Lang, Jon Maturi and Korey Wahwassuck of Itasca County District Court; Commissioner Tom Roy on behalf of Governor Dayton; representatives of Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Al Franken; Robbie Howe, Leech Lake Tribal Council District 1 representative; Dale Adams, Grand Rapids mayor; and Bud Stone, Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce.

“Let the flags fly together as a reminder that we will be partners in our community to offer hope and goodwill among our peoples,” said Professor Larry Aitken, master of ceremonies and Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe tribal historian, in his closing remarks for the day. “We must learn to trust each other as we gather together on this day, so fly on flags of friendship, and stand together as good neighbors. Smile and shake hands in front of our communities to express our brotherhood today. As we depart today, let us each take away our personal commitment to honor each other. Mii ew Miigwech.”

To join Circle of Healing, contact Becky LaPlant, Blandin Foundation, 218-327-8764 or


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