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

Red Lake Inauguration Held at Seven Clans - P2

Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and Three Representatives Sworn-In


August 23, 2018

Chairman Seki gives the inaugural address

At 9:00 a.m., Tuesday, August 14, 2018, Red Lake Tribal members and friends of the Nation gathered for an inauguration held at Seven Clans Casino and Event Center, Red Lake.

Two months earlier on June 12, 2018, members witnessed the swearing in of Adrian Lussier as Little Rock's new Representative, and re-elected Ponemah Representative Gary Nelson. Each had won their respective seats in the first round election on May 16, 2018, receiving more than 50% of the ballots cast and winning the election outright.

Today Hereditary Chief James Loud would swear-in winners of the run-off election held July 18, 2018.

Hundreds gathered filling nearly every chair on the floor. Red Lakers, friends, and allies sat at round tables tightly spaced - save an aisle down the middle - for the entrance of the colors and royalty. Among the crowd were several honored guests representing Federal, State, County, Bemidji City governments, including several public organization and business allies.

On stage stood emcee Gary "Rez Dawg" Jourdain, Jr., who welcomed Spiritual Leader and Hereditary Chief Greeting Spears who offered an invocation.

Jourdain soon called on Young Creek and the celebrated Drum Eyabay for a song as members of Red Lake Veterans Post 6889 marched in in dance-step, colors flying. Behind them came the sound of jingle dresses synchronized to the Drum, as Red Lake Royalty danced their way to the stage.

On stage stood emcee Gary "Rez Dawg" Jourdain, Jr., who welcomed Spiritual Leader and Hereditary Chief Greeting Spears who did the invocation.

Jourdain behind podium, the Colors behind him, then asked the Honor Guide to post the colors.

Red Lake Tribal Council members were seated facing the crowd behind tables directly at the front of the stage. Council members and Hereditary Chiefs mixed with each other to the right and left of center stage.

A bit after 9:00 a.m., Chairman Seki called the meeting of the Red Lake Tribal Council to order from the floor. Secretary Darwin Sumner, seated to Seki's left took the roll. A quorum present, Chairman Seki explained the morning's agenda.

Seki asked for a motion to accept the certified results of the recent election. On a motion and second, the motion passed unanimously. The swearing in would soon follow. Seki then recessed the Council meeting to reconvene in the Tribal Council Chambers at the Red Lake Government Center at 12:30 pm.

So began the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians Inaugural ceremony in honor of Darrell G. Seki, Sr., Samuel R. Strong, Annette Johnson, Julius "Toady" Thunder, Donald Good, Sr., and Michelle (Barrett) Cobenais.

Hereditary Chief James Loud took the stage at the request of the council to swear in the new Council. One by one, aided by emcee Jourdain, Chief Loud swore in Thunder as the reelected Redby Representative, Good newly elected from Red Lake District (replacing retiring long-term Representative Roman "Ducker" Stately), newly elected Cobenais from Little Rock, Johnson reelected as Treasurer, Strong newly elected Secretary, and Seki reelected as Chairman. All took the oath of office.

Chief Loud yielded to Chief Darwin Sumner when Strong came to the stage. Sumner served as Tribal Secretary filling out the term of Donald Cook. As a symbol of unity, humility and respect, and as former campaign rivals, Sumner swore in newly elected Tribal Secretary Samuel Strong. Later all would give a short speech thanking families, constituents, members, and calling for unity as demonstrated by Sumner and Strong.

Sumner exiting the stage, Chief Loud then stepped forward to present the oath of office to Chairman Seki.

The three representatives gave short thank you speeches. Treasurer Johnson is glad the election is over. "I hope to continue what we started and make progress in areas such as the drug and alcohol epidemic," she said. "As Indigenous peoples, we must keep in mind our youth and future generations. We have always been taught this. And in keeping with that, we can't forget our elders. It is they who have instilled in us who we are as Anishinaabe."

Secretary Strong, who often works with and is concerned about youth, hopes to bring their voice to the table. "Change is exciting, to have the opportunity to make a difference is exciting. I think the most exciting part about politics is we have a chance to shape our communities," he said. "There are many things to be grateful for, our lake, our culture, our way of life. We have these strengths. We need to keep our culture and language alive. And as we look towards the future, we also must realize there are perils. We can use these strengths to solve these challenges. Among these challenges is talking about and making decisions about enrollment. These are among the major issues I'd like to address."

Seki would also speak to the audience. He spoke first, as is his custom, in his first language, Ojibwemowin before switching to his second language English, to present the majority of the speech.

Seki's speech centered on healing the Nation, but also included past, current and future Council initiatives. He encouraged the Nation to work toward healing after a challenging year with losses of loved ones, storms, fires and "an election that brought out the best of us, but at times the worst of us."

"Today, we are still battling the drug abuse. Now is the time to end this destruction, Seki said." He vowed to empower law enforcement and to hold dealers accountable. He also promised to improve communication with band members to include social media.

Closing his speech, Seki got a bit emotional as he thanked his wife and family for their support. He asked for patience and understanding from his supporters and all tribal members. "Most importantly remember why we are elected and work together to move forward," he said. "The healing starts now." (An Abridged version of Seki's Inaugural Speech follows this story)

Oaths of Office taken, speeches completed, an Honor Song was offered by Eyabay & Young Creek as the colors retreated. A Traveling Song followed. It was time to eat. Friends chatted while waiting in line or at table to be served a brunch feast of eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, potatoes, French toast, many fruits, coffee, and water.

Seki, taking the mic during the meal easily got the attention and applause from the crowd by announcing leave for council employees for the remainder of the day.

Condensed Version of Chairman Seki's Inaugural Speech

This morning I stand before you with a message and a challenge of healing, teamwork, and forward progress over the past few months our tribe has been embroiled in a tough, competitive, and at times turbulent election.

I want to take a moment to thank my team and supporters for their hard work and dedication throughout this process. I congratulate all the candidates that participated in this election whether elected or not. The choice to step up to lead is not an easy one.

Campaigns not only require work but also time and money. All the candidates placing their name on the ballot did so out of love and to do great things for our great Nation. All these candidates deserve our appreciation.

We have faced some tough times recently. Losses of loved ones, a terrible storm, and an election that brought out the best of us, but at times also the worst of us. My message to you is, its time to heal. We owe it to ourselves, our children, and the Nation to put behind animosity, rumor, and negativity and focus on the future.

To everyone I say its time to work together. One person cannot do it alone. There will be times we disagree but we need to do so in a respectful and productive way. It is these debates and differences of opinion that may lead to great achievements. We, as a Council represent our people; we need to lead with dignity, integrity, and above all cooperatively.

It is time to focus on the future. We cannot move forward if we look to the past. We all learn from past mistakes, but if we dwell on what was, we cannot focus on what can be. Today we battle drug abuse, a problem that has existed on our reservation for years. It is my hope that someday our great nation will be rid of drugs. It won't happen overnight and it won't be easy. I am proud to say in my first four years as Chairman we confiscated and destroyed thousands of grams of illegal drugs. We arrested and held drug dealers accountable. This work will continue.

As your Chairman I will do my part to empower our Red Lake PD to continue the task of cleaning up our reservation. We will hold all offenders accountable but the work cannot end there. Confiscation, arrest and incarceration are just the first steps. After that the true work begins for rehabilitation. This is where teamwork brings healing and progress. Now is the time to change and end the destruction that illegal drugs bring to lives, homes, and families.

The marijuana issue is divided. We have many calling for the legalization of hemp and marijuana and others against it. I support conducting a feasibility study on hemp, medical and recreational marijuana use on the reservation. Once this is complete it will be presented to the council for a vote and if approved placed before our membership for a referendum vote. Major decisions such as this needs the voice of our entire membership!

Another major initiative is solar energy. As you know Red Lake Nation is going solar and will be energy independent in the near future. Phase one, which is the installation of solar panels on our government buildings, college, and casinos, will move forward. Once complete our tribe will see an immediate savings of at least two million dollars per year.

There has been much discussion relating to solar energy. There has been rumor and misconception including that each member would end up paying for these panels. I am here to tell you directly that YOU WILL NOT SEE A BILL for these solar panels. Our administration worked very hard to come up with a way to ensure that our tribe got the best possible deal.

I was also asked about how we can do these projects without loans. The simple answer is that our administration is working with investors for financing. This method of financing guarantees that our tribe incurs no debt and neither do you. We will post a one-page explanation on my new Facebook page soon to explain the process for financing our solar project.

In addition to solar panels, we are looking into Net Zero homes. My hope is to put at least one Net Zero home in each district to test how they work. Net Zero homes are 100% free of utility bills if these test homes work as planned, I hope we can continue build more of these energy independent homes. We have also submitted funding requests for a Net Zero halfway house.

Not only does solar energy lessen our bills but also it lessens our footprint on the environment. As Anishinaabe, we take our environment seriously, we love our land and we want to see the end of desecration to our great resources. By going solar, we harness the energy of the sun without negative emissions while eliminating the need for power from an electric coop. Solar power is a win, win across the board for Red Lake Nation.

Another issue is communication. Throughout forums in Minneapolis, Duluth, and across the reservation, I heard we need better communication. In the coming weeks my team will be developing a new Facebook page for me as your Chairman.

Left to right, Rep Al Pemberton, Redby, Retiring Red Lake Rep Roman "Ducker" Stately, Red Lake Rep Robert Smith, Spiritual Leader and Hereditary Chief Greeting Spears, and Ponemah Reps Glenda Martin and Gary Nelson

Spiritual Leader and Hereditary Chief Greeting Spears watches the swearing in 9592 – Leech Lake Tribal Council Rep LeRoy Staples Fairbanks, center, was a guest at the inaugural. Also at the table; Oran Beaulieu, Rose Cloud, and Secretary Sam Strong

On this page you will be able to see upcoming events, explanations, and more information. This is also somewhere you can go to message us. I want to caution Facebook users, there may be times we don't get back to you right away and there may be things we can't handle through Facebook. My office is always open and my staff and I are here to help. You can call or visit us any time, the door is always open. I also encourage you to attend council meetings and follow our Red Lake Tribal Council page. The better informed we all are, the better we can work together to achieve great things.

The next four years begins today. Your voices were heard and I will continue working hard for you as your Chairman. We have many plans and projects we are working on. To our membership I ask for patience and understanding as we move forward. To our council I ask for teamwork. Today is the day we stop the animosity and give up the divisive and vicious politics. We have been elected to represent and serve the Red Lake Nation and its people, not ourselves. We need to put the best interests of the tribe above politics and work together. We must respect each other, and most importantly remember why we were elected and work together. The healing starts now. The teamwork starts now. And... the future... starts now.

Thank you.


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