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

By Michael Barrett

Seki delivers 2016 State of the Band Address - P9


Chairman Darrell Seki's State of the Band Address

We have a strategic plan. For the first time since we started talking about it nearly twenty years ago, we have our first strategic plan. From strategic planning we were able to identify some common themes. First, nearly every program indicated a desire to cut costs and improve work production. In order to help with that goal on a band-wide level, we began the process of implementing computer systems to speed up our purchasing and authorization speed. By buying these computer programs, we are dragging ourselves out of the dark ages and into the modern era.

Since I became chairman, Red Lake tribal council has added roughly 120 jobs. Some of these jobs are newly created, while others are positions that had not been filled. Virtually every one of these jobs had been posted and had a competitive interview process.

We the Council have worked hard to increase the amount of collaboration and close working relationships our programs have. Ideally, we'd like to make the services we offer our band members very accessible and close coordination is what can make that happen. We still have a long way to go, but we can see improvement in cooperation between programs.

Another goal that we are working on is increasing our communication abilities with our band members. To that reach that goal we have started the planning for a radio station here in Red Lake. Red Lake also hired a Red Lake Band member as our Public Relations Specialist and have created social media accounts. We have also enhanced our website and increased the amount of information you can find on the website. For example, you can download court forms from the website and other forms our programs use. It isn't a finished product yet and we'll see even more information find its way on to the website for our Band members.

Treasurer Johnson reports, the permanent trust fund grew by 2.99% during the last quarter of 2015. The December disbursement equaled 3.855 million with 250 dollars going to each Band member.

The 2014 Audit showed that the Band spend 45.5 million in wages. Total expenditures for 2014 were 93 million, compared to 85 million in 2013 and 81 million in 2012.

Secretary Cook reports that we have 11,816 members. Since January 2015, we have enrolled 241 new members. Also, this year we'll have elections for representatives. One representative in each of the four districts will be voted on in the coming months.

Legislative Activities:

Red Lake successfully lobbied for and has more than 900,000 thousand in this year's state budget and 500,000 is a recurring amount-meaning we'll receive that amount every year-for administering programs like SNAP, CCAP and Child support.

Red Lake also is actively pursuing a tax cash allocation from the State of Minnesota in the amount of 18.8 million for a new building that will house Oshkimaajitahdaa and Family and Children Services.

This year, one of our own band members and employees, Mr. Jerry Loud will be running for state office! We support him in this endeavor and wish him well; he'll be a Loud voice for us at the State legislature.

Police Activities:

Our police have been active in drug seizures. In 2015 our police seized more than 4 pounds of heroin and made more than 140 drug related arrests and executed about 40 drug related search warrants. Recently, our police seized more than 3 pounds of methamphetamine entering our reservation.

A couple of months ago our police took it upon themselves to create their own local drug task force. So far that task force has partnered with other programs and has become the driving force behind some of our drug cases.

But our police are doing more than just drug interdiction, they are working hard to create a neighborhood watch and operation ID programs in Red Lake.

All of this while they are still short ten police officers.

Tribal Engineering:

I mentioned last year that in order to build a strong economy, we need to increase and enhance the two things that will never leave our nation-infrastructure like roads, bridges, communication capabilities, emergency preparedness and such; the other piece that will never leave our nation is how we train our workforce.

Tribal engineering helps us build both components to creating a strong economy. The Tribal Employment Rights Ordinance, known as TERO is used to pay for training such as CNA classes, welding classes and to pay for transporting people to jobs off the reservation at Artic Cat and Anderson Fabric. For years we have struggled with the state regarding our TERO, the State refused to pay TERO when they managed a project. It even led to stopping a bridge from being built not too long ago. I report to you today, that we have solved that problem and the state will do something it doesn't do with other tribes-Minnesota will let us manage our own projects. Managing our own projects means we'll see more of those TERO dollars while we build our road infrastructure.

Engineering is in the process of locating funds for a walking trail between Red Lake and Redby, and hopefully all the way to Ponemah. We are also waiting to hear whether we'll be awarded money to put up new street signs with our language on top and the English below.

BIA does not give us anywhere near the money needed for road maintenance through a road funding law known as "Map-21". Although we have been fighting Congress and BIA on that matter since the creation of the MAP-21, we have finally broken through and BIA has agreed to support Red Lake's suggestion and push for an independent review board to review the success of the law. We say the law does not work and feel the review board will have the same findings. The only disappointing part is that is a long process that will take several years before we see any changes to MAP-21.

Red Lake Transit

Don't forget to use the public transportation, known as Red Lake Transit when you can. We are increasing our abilities with transit. In 2015, the public transit had 28,160 passenger trips!

Equay Wiigamig

Our Women's Shelter, Equay Wiigamig, has helped more than 4,500 people in the last year. Every Wednesday, the Women's shelter puts on cultural regalia making along with drumming and singing-everybody is welcomed to attend from 5PM to 8PM. Women's talking circles are Thursday night and men's re-education support groups are at the gaming office every Thursday evening from 5-8.


Family and Children's Service has been very busy. Over the past 18 months, FCS has worked diligently to increase our family reunification efforts. If we do not work harder to reunify families today, our grandchildren will refer to this as the foster care era. To keep that from happening, we have set into motion a plan to take over handling all our of band member foster care placements, instead of the state doing the placements for our members who live off the reservation.

Family and Children's Services combined with Oshkimaajitaadaa and the Abinoojiyag Noojimoo Wiigamig and our Courts are currently working on reducing our rate of juvenile repeat offenders. This collaboration is an example of programs working together to better our services to Band members.

Abinoojiiyag Noojimmoo Wigamig

Our children's healing center, known as Abinoojiiyag Noojimoo Wigamig started operations in 2015. Currently, they have prevention services for repeat offenders, Intervention services that includes family group decision making and forward thinking, which are programs aimed at helping our children and their families. The core work of Abinoojiiyag Noojimoo Wigamig is however, a court diversion program for our youth. We have been building towards this diversion program since I became chairman and will see it in full operation soon.


Oshkimaajitahdaa is currently pursuing state money to build a new building which would house both the six Ohkimaajitaadah programs and family and children's services. Since the last State of the Band Address, they have started and graduated our first welding class. Another class is currently underway and will graduate on April 1, 2016. Taking part in the class gives students a trade skill that can help them become employed. If you want to take part in the welding classes, contact Oshkimaajitahdaa.

Ohkimaahitahdaa has taken completely over the TANF program from the state of Minnesota. This means that our members no longer have to go to Bemidji to get these services. We also have taken over the child care, which means we pay our child care providers. We are working on having other programs too, like SNAP and health care benefits so that none of our band members will have to travel to Bemidji for these services. It means Red Lake can and will incorporate our own values and culture into the program so that our band members can be properly awarded services. No more non-natives judging our band members.

Comprehensive Health

Comp health is currently engaged in a review along with Indian Health Services to identify where the problems are in our health care and find solutions to those problems. Red Lake hired a consulting agency to conduct the review. Right now the consultants are currently examining data from both comprehensive health and Indian Health Services.

The hospital has thousands of patient visits a year. Our medical transportation services made more than 10,000 trips in 2015. Red Lake Comprehensive Health Physician services saw 23,823 patients. An additional 16,720 patients were seen in the Emergency room.


Housing continues to rehab housing units. Last your, Housing began the process of rehabbing 40 units scatter throughout the reservation. 20 units have been completed so far. Housing used what is known as a "tax credit" to finance the operation. Tax credit financing is a complex source of funding and requires creating a business partnership with a wealthy entity. Red Lake has done this more than 10 times.

Rental Assistance and security deposits were provided to 35 families outside of the reservation, five families are currently receiving on-going rental assistance. 34 furnaces were replaced in some units that needed replacing to increase efficiency.

Red Lake Housing also replaced parts of five different parts of the community water system and 4 community sewer connections, 1 well abandonment and 1 septic tank abandonment was finished under the Indian Health Service Contract.

For brand new construction, five housing units were finished in the Heart Lake development.

Red Lake Housing Finance Corporation entered into three new home loans and three existing home loan.

Economic Development and Planning

Recently, Economic Development and Planning hired three new employees, two of which are newly created positions. It is an example of some of the positions we have added.

Perhaps the most critical project Economic Development is working on is our census challenge. A census challenge is what we use to change our funding numbers from BIA. If successful, we can increase our funding and give back more resources to our band members. It is a complex process and soon we'll hire survey people to do a mock census.

Economic Development is also heading up a major project for the Band in the twin cities area. If successful, the Band will own a mixed use property in Minneapolis that can be used as an income source. In time, the Band will release those details to you.

Economic Development and Planning is also heading up the language revitalization planning and the Entrepreneur Program as well as the food initiative.

Red Lake Inc.

Red Lake Incorporated is under new management. Red Lake Incorporated is a holding company that manages our businesses. They manage these businesses without cash infusions from the tribe and are expected to turn a profit in these businesses. While the planning and new management have put Red Lake Inc on a path for success, only 3 businesses saw a profit this past year. Red Lake Farms made a profit of 118,000; Red Lake builders made a profit of 680,000; Red Lake Retail and Ponemah Market made 15,000 dollars.

But Red Lake has increased its capabilities. Now the Fishery processes all of our walleye here in Red Lake. In the past, when we processed it here, it was at such a high cost, the fishery lost money. Through careful planning the plant now has lowered its production costs and can process all the walleye that comes in at a level that will create a profit, and will in all likelihood see a profit.

As I stated in my "Inaugural Address," the key to my administration and my intent is to bring employment to create jobs and develop a strong economy. I would like to share the following progress and projects we have developed:

1. Red Lake Nation Solar Energy Project

Project Description: This project will consist of 3 phases which will display growth and progress within the solar energy industry and address the needs of the Red Lake Nation and our People.

Phase I : Will consist of the development of approximately $30 million of solar energy equipment to address the high cost of electricity in our larger facilities, such as our 3 casinos, government center, college, justice center complex, and Red Lake and Ponemah schools. We will provide about 15 Megawatts of electricity and save our Tribe $2 million per year. Plus, solar energy training for our People will be provided.

Phase II : Will be the development of solar energy farms on our ceded lands up north and will consist initially of 40 acres of solar panels. They will provide 10 megawatts of electricity, all to be sold to the grid, Minnesota Power. This solar energy farm will produce in excess of $1.5 million per year of steady revenue stream for years for the Red Lake Nation.

Phase III : The development of a solar energy plant that will produce solar equipment and fixtures for the industry, assemble panels, and provide jobs for our People. Plus, the development of our own Red Lake Nation Substation that will provide power for our membership.

Funding: Our project will be financed by the Olson Energy Corporation which will utilize the various tax benefits available from the Internal Revenue Service. By using this form of financing, we will only pay, at the end of 5 years, a maximum of 5% of the total estimated cost of the project, $1.5 million, and we will own it all.

Timeline: Phase I will be completed this year and Phase II will begin the next few months.

2. Red Lake Dialysis Center

Project Description: This project will build a new, 12-unit, state of the art dialysis center. It will be constructed next to our hospital and will be connected to it via a corridor. It will be owned and operated by the Red Lake Nation.

Funding: USDA – Rural Development, with utilization of program income via third party billing;

Timeline: Begin construction this summer, completion spring 2017;

3. Red Lake Nation Chemical Dependency Treatment Center

Project Description: The new Red Lake Nation Chemical Dependency Treatment Center will be a 16-bed facility, designed to serve both men and women. The treatment center will operate under a newly designed treatment plan and will be built in Redby.

Funding: USDA – Rural Development, with utilization of program income via third party billing;

Timeline: Begin construction this summer, completion spring 2017;

4. Red Lake Solid Waste Transfer Station

Project Description: We will be moving forward with a new project at our solid waste transfer station in Red Lake. This project will move forward with the clean-up and maintenance of our demolition landfill, which is in dire need of an upgrade.

Funding: USDA – Rural Development, 66% grant;

Timeline: Begin construction this summer, completion fall 2017;

5. Red Lake & Ponemah Fire Departments

Project Description: We have put together a design to construct two new fire departments, one in the community of Red Lake and the other in Ponemah. As our communities continue to grow and with the addition of new buildings and facilities, adequate fire protection is necessary to insure our properties.

The Red Lake Fire Hall will have a 4 stalls for fire trucks, 4 smaller stalls for other vehicles, training room, gear room, offices for dispatch, fire chief and assistant, and fitness room. Ponemah will have one stall for the fire truck, training room, gear room, and office space for the fire chief and assistant. Comprehensive Health will also provide for the garage space for 6 transportation vehicles, the ambulance center, and fitness room.

Funding: USDA – Rural Development, other pending funding;

Timeline: Dependent on other sources of funding;

Redby Community wants a fire station requested at one of our community meetings.

6. Red Lake Food Shelf

Project Description: I would like to acknowledge the Red Lake Housing Authority and St. Mary's Mission for their financial support and commitment to our Red Lake Food Shelf. They continue to operate our food shelf on a monthly basis and have recently moved into the old Redby community center. They have constructed new tables, cleaned the facility, and are in need of equipment to enhance the services to our members. We are working with the USDA office in Bemidji to acquire the grant to provide a new walk-in cooler and freezer, plus, other equipment.

Funding: USDA grant;

Timeline: Within the next few months;

Controlled Environmental Agriculture (CEA)

Project Description: We are in the final planning phase of developing a new business which will grow vegetables and other crops year round, indoors, and in a greenhouse. The goal of this business will be to develop a sound, viable, and profitable business that will provide jobs for our People, sustain itself, and provides growth and expansion for the future. The business may provide access to fresh produce for all our ENP programs, schools, and casinos. It will also assist with addressing the high rates of diabetes, heart disease, and other diet related illnesses.

Timeline: We are in the process of finalizing our plan, costs, and operations;

7. Red Lake Family & Children Services & Elderly Complex

Project Description: We are also in the planning stage of a new facility for our Family and Children Services department. This department provides:

• Child Protective Services

• Foster Care

• Family Based Service

• Children's Mental Health

• Indian Child Welfare

In addition, this facility will include and create a new one-stop shop for all elders, this will enforce our cultural belief and message of "As a nation we need to be judged on how we treat our elders and children." Our goal is to provide case management services for our elders/vulnerable adults, common entry point for allegations of abuse, provide adult foster home licenses, elderly nutrition and elderly maintenance, adult day services, and payee services.

Timeline: We are in the process of finalizing our plan, costs, and funding;

In closing, the development of these projects are designed to address our basic needs and understandings:

1. The preservation and conservation of our environment.

2. Providing an energy source which is compatible with our beliefs of living in harmony with nature.

3. The diversification of our economy and investments.

4. Improving the quality of life, training for our labor force, and employment, jobs for our People.

5. The development of these projects will be funded by the entities themselves, via the program or the business revenue generated by itself, NOT USING GENERAL FUNDS OF THE TRIBE.


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