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

Tim Sumner Sworn-In As Beltrami County Commissioner

Red Lake Member Elected Chairman of the Board


January 6, 2017

Sumner is sworn in by Judge Paul Benshoof.

Three Beltrami County Commissioners stood for a swearing in ceremony on Tuesday, January 3, 2017. They included recently reelected Beltrami County Commissioners Tim Sumner and Jim Lucachick, and newly elected Commissioner Reed Olson. Held at the County Administration Building, families of the elected officials joined county program directors and other county staff gathering together and nearly filling the County Board room.

Following the regular work session, at 4:30 pm a public reception was held with snacks and coffee being served. Just prior to the swearing in, Commissioner Sumner and Red Lake member Bill May spoke to County Administrator Kay Mack about adding some Red Lake tradition to the ceremony. To her credit Mack, who is familiar with Red Lake tradition through her former role as County Auditor, agreed to honor the culture of the Anishinaabeg and welcomed the additions.

At 5 pm, Mack took the microphone and asked Commissioners Sumner, Lucachick and Olson to come to the front of the room. She then introduced 9th Judicial District Judge Paul Benshoof who would conduct the swearing in ceremony. Benshoof dressed in judicial robes, administered the oath of office to each commissioner individually. First to be sworn in would Commissioner follow District 2 Commissioner Olson from District 5 Lucachick, and finally Commissioner Sumner of District 4. All raised their right hands and took oaths to uphold the United States and Minnesota constitutions while serving the people.

Sumner then spoke to those assembled requesting their participation to the agreed upon additions to the ceremony. He introduced Red Lake member Bill May who with hand drum sang a Chiefs song in respect for those newly elected. "This is not just for Tim," explained May, "this is for Commissioners Olson and Lucachick as well."

The swearing in completed and the appropriate paperwork signed, Commissioners took their places at the front of the room to conduct a short meeting.

After calling the meeting to order, Sumner, the soon to be Board Chairman seated at center, asked the audience to stand for the pledge of allegiance. Opening one more door to racial/cultural understanding, Sumner then asked the crowd to remain standing for another Ojibwe tradition, a Flag Song again by Bill May. Before singing, May explained that a Flag Song to the Anishinaabeg is another form of the pledge, a showing of respect for the flag.

The first order of business for the Board was the election of Chair and Vice-Chair. Sumner was elected chairman, following a motion by Richard Anderson, second by Keith Winger and passing unanimously. Jim Lucachick then nominated Richard Anderson as vice chair with second by Tim Sumner, also passing unanimously.

Before adjourning, Sumner thanked the audience "for the respect you have shown by letting me honor my tradition. I'm looking forward to serving the citizens of Beltrami County. During the campaign I said I wanted to build a better community. As commissioners we don't always agree, but the one thing we do agree on is doing what's best for all the people of Beltrami County."

Sumner also part of his agenda as Chairman...a new initiative for the coming summer where each commissioner will host a meeting in their respective districts as part of an effort to reach out and be more available to the county's diverse communities.

About Tim Sumner, Chairman, Beltrami County Board of Commissioners & Red Lake Member

District 4 Beltrami County Commissioner Timothy A. "Tim" Sumner is the new Chairman of the Beltrami County Board of Commissioners and consequently will have a much larger role in setting the county agenda. The Board Chairmanship alternates annually.

As a county Commissioner, Sumner works with County Administrator Mack, and Mack sees to it county staff carries out the Board's agenda. The County Sheriff, County Attorney, and County Auditor/Treasurer are all elected offices and do not answer to the County Board.

Sumner won his seat on the Beltrami County board in November 2012 over incumbent and fellow Red Lake member Quentin Fairbanks who served in that capacity for 12 years. Sumner and Fairbanks were the first American Indians to face each other in a non-tribal election in the history of Minnesota. Sumner was the youngest person (at 28) ever elected to the County Board.

Sumner is the third commissioner in a row from Red Lake. Fairbanks served three terms or 12 years. Fairbanks' predecessor Sandra King served only one term (1996-2000). King was the first American Indian in the state of Minnesota to be elected as a County Commissioner. Red Lake members, at the end of Sumner's current term, will have held this seat for 24 years.

Sumner says he will continue to work with both tribal, city and township officials for the betterment of all peoples. He said it was important to treat everyone the same in the district both on and off the reservation. "I think it's important to have that government to government relationship, there are ways the county and tribe can work better together," he said.

Sumner's Issues

Drugs: "It's a serious issue and it's happening statewide and nationally. Locally, we can provide services through the Health and Human Services Department and collaborate with many different organizations that take it seriously," Sumner said. "Children are the ones that are hurting the most from this. I want to do what I can to push the importance of prevention and treatment, while working with parents."

Race Relations: Sumner said the subject is a very important one that he's tried to improve with his time as a commissioner and will continue to do. "Natives and non-natives want to learn from each other and support each other," Sumner said. "I would like to explore setting up a race relation commission made up of officials from the county, the Red Lake Band, and the city of Bemidji to facilitate interaction and change policies that can help the community."

Veterans Services: Sumner said an important subject he continues to support is a veteran's home in northwestern Minnesota. "It's important that we provide the services that they need because of the service that they've provided for us," said Sumner.

Tim is married to Rhiannon (Barrett) Sumner. They have five children. He grew up in Ponemah and graduated from Red Lake High School. Having lived in Redby for a time, he has recently moved back to Ponemah with his family. Tim is an AmeriCorps Alumnus, and is a former officer of the Red Lake Political Education Committee. (RLPEC)

Thirty-two years of age, Sumner comes from a family of eight. He has six sisters and one brother. His grandfather served on the Tribal Council at one time, and his Grandmother served on the School Board. "I come from a background of folks who believe in public service," said Sumner. Commissioner Sumner invites all to contact him freely by phone, email, and to check out his Facebook site from time to time.

Commissioner Tim Sumner

Ponemah, MN 56666


Communities in District 4

District 4 is a mix of Indian and non-Indian. It is in the northern half of the county, and represents about half the land in Minnesota's 3rd largest county.

Tim Sumner and Bill May visit with County Administrator Kay Mack about including a Chiefs and Flag Song to the program.

District 4 includes Communities: Little Rock, Ponemah, Red Lake and Redby; Cities: Blackduck, Funkley, and Kelliher; Townships: Battle, Benville, Cormant, Hamre, Hines, Hornet, Kelliher, Langor, Lee, Minnie, Quiring, Shooks, Shotley, Spruce Grove, Steenerson, Waskish, Woodrow, and Unorganized Lower Red Lake, Upper Red Lake, North Beltrami, and Shotley Brook.

Sumner Committee Appointments

Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) Environment & Natural Resource policy committee, Chair of AMC Indian Affairs Committee; Bi-County CAP; Blackduck Ambulance; ConCon/PILT Fund Committee; Ditch Committee; Diversity & Inclusion Council, State of MN; Joint Powers Natural Resource Board (alternate); Kelliher Resource Center, Old School Committee; Greater Bemidji (Alternate); Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC); Shared Vision; State and Federal Legislative Activities; Veterans Home Task Force (Alternate); Workforce Initiative


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