Seki Presents State of the Band Message
Outlines Tribe's Major Project Initiatives for 2021 and Into the Future
June 10, 2021
"We stand together as one nation and face all challengers before us – the heart of unity will move us forward"
In the annual report to the people, Red Lake Tribal Chairman Darrell G. Seki Sr., Secretary Samuel L. Strong, and Treasurer Annette Johnson along with ten tribal program managers, addressed a crowd gathered at the Red Lake powwow grounds on May 28. They would celebrate together...and in person...the challenges and successes that the tribe experienced in the 15 months since the last State of the Band Address in February 2020. They would recap the Tribal Council's 2020 agenda in the midst of a pandemic, and present future goals, aspirations and plans for 2021.
Originally scheduled for February 26, 2021, COVID 19 (as the pandemic has done for 14 months) postponed but did not cancel the Annual State of the Band Address. Rather than the usual address from the Casino/Events Center in Red Lake, the address was rescheduled where it was more likely to be attended by more Red Lake Band members, outside at the Red Lake Powwow Grounds on Friday, May 28, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. (because of social distancing)
As it turns out, the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the State of Minnesota, and Red Lake Nation loosened the mask mandate and gatherings for fully vaccinated people near simultaneously. The Red Lake Tribal Council declared Medical Martial Law on April 1, 2020 and was rescinded at the monthly Tribal Council meeting on May 11, 2021.
It was 65 degrees and sunny without a cloud in the sky. Symbols of Spring, the coming Summer and the loosening pandemic were everywhere. The postponement led to a near-normal event with few wearing masks, and many gathered closely together. A good mood permeated the air among all. Mino-Giizhigad, it was a good day. The event was the first large event held since the repeal of Medical Martial Law and keeping with the tribe's aggressive stance against the pandemic, a vaccine clinic was being held behind the stage.
To the south, at the powwow emcee and arena director stage, there would soon be flags and eagle staffs. Audio and visual equipment along with four large screens facing the four directions were at the center of the powwow ring and would project what was happening at center stage. (The event was streamed to Red Lake Tribal HQ, and to Red Lake Embassies at Duluth and Minneapolis)
Shortly after 10 a.m., Gary Jourdain stood at the podium as emcee for the event. The Colors, carried by the honor guard, (3 Star Warrior Society) Red Lake Nation Royalty, and members of Red Lake's eleven-member Tribal Council and seven Hereditary Chiefs entered the Powwow Grounds from the East, (as do the sun and all life) to the beat of the celebrated Drum from Obaashiing, Eyabay.
After the colors were posted, Jourdain introduced the Honor Guard and Royalty by name. Elder Spiritual Advisor Zhaawanwe'wiidamok (Frances "Frannie" Miller) had been offered asemaa (tobacco) and provided the invocation. "It's good to see you," said Miller with a smile, referring to the absence of masks. "It's good to gather again at this time and in this place as a nation, as friends, as families."
Jourdain then introduced Tribal Council members and Hereditary Chiefs. Following a Veterans and Chiefs Song again by Eyabay, Jourdain acknowledged the "Dignitary Guests" in attendance. They included representatives from Federal, Tribal, State, Beltrami County, and Bemidji City Governments as well as friends and allies of Red Lake Nation.
This year several videos were submitted by federal and state officials who could not attend. The four large screens facing the four directions played video greetings from US Senator Amy Klobuchar, US Senator Tina Smith, and US Congresswoman Betty McCollum. State officials sending videos included Governor Tim Walz, Attorney General Keith Ellingson, and Secretary of State Steve Simon. All praised Red Lake's quick and thorough response to COVID 19 and pledging to help address inequities exacerbated by the pandemic.
Now the State of the Band would begin. Rather than presenting the entire report himself, Seki shared those duties with the people who do the jobs. Seki would speak last wrapping it all up. Child welfare, the pandemic and its fallout, community, chemical health, tribal sovereignty, childcare, education, minimum wage raise, the launch of a new charter school, project development and a renewed dedication to preserving language and culture were woven throughout the event.
(Look for a complete transcript of Seki's message as well as the messages from Strong, Johnson, and most tribal program directors in this publication and by email and social media soon)
First up was Tribal Secretary Samuel R. Strong. "It was quite the year not only did we experience a global pandemic, with COVID19 but we as a community came together to overcome the challenges it caused. It brought to light issues that our community has faced for years," said Strong. "WE did unite against one of the biggest challenges our Nation has faced. This allows us to see the strength in our unity. The strength in our community."
"Let us not be complacent when it comes to drugs and poverty," Strong went on. "Let us stand up for those that are in need. Let us invest in our people like never before. Together we can overcome the drug epidemic the lack of childcare and poverty that some of our people face. We cannot go back to the way things were, we have an opportunity to create a new normal, we can confront these issues much like we tackled COVID."
"It is time for all of us to unite and get behind all of our people. To open our hearts and forgive people for the mistakes and hurt they may have caused," said Strong. "Forgive them with strength, love, and most importantly, to forgive them with a helping hand. As Mahatma Gandhi said, 'the weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.'"
"Every one of us has a part in making our nation a stronger place with a brighter future. We have transformed the system that was meant to destroy us," Strong said of the former enrollment system. "We will stand strong like our ancestors did."
Next, Tribal Treasurer Annette Johnson, gave a comprehensive report after being introduced by Jourdain. The report included the 2019 Audit Report, all the tribe's financial statements, loans, income, investments, and liabilities...also noting the challenges presented by the federal government. She also shared with those gathered numbers related to Red Lake Gaming.
"During the past year, programs were limited to essential services such as health care and others on the front lines dedicated to mitigate the pandemic," said Johnson. "But we stood not still, during the past year the tribe was able to raise the minimum wage, we're working on launching a charter school next fall, we've built a new childcare center and has also invested in a medical marijuana facility."
Allocation of the ARP (American Rescue Plan) funds will be based on enrollment data (65%) and tribal enrollment (35%). Certified enrollment is 15,070; we are currently reconfirming that information based on 2019 941's that were submitted for the US Treasury round of funding last year.
"We have until December 31, 2024, to spend this funding and are currently working with Bluestone Strategy Group, to formulate a plan on how this funding is used. Other federal agency funding is available to meet our needs and Bluestone will assist us in leveraging use of all the funding sources," said Johnson. "This whole process has been time consuming but yet rewarding as this funding will assist the Tribe in many areas."
NOTE: Full financial report by Treasurer Johnson elsewhere in this publication
Martina Beaulieu, Executive Director, was then introduced. "The pandemic has affected us greatly because of our lack of resources and funding, that's one of the main barriers we face as a native community," said Beaulieu. "Now with this ARP (American Rescue Plan) funding, we're able to help some programs and get the assistance to our tribal members as needed.
In January, Michael Burns, Director of Public Safety, started the Community Overdose Response Team. (CORT) The CORT committee has 14 committees, and Chairman Seki and I are on the cultural committee. I want to share what the cultural committee is doing.
In early February, the cultural committee started with five team members and has grown to over 15 members from various tribal programs such as the Immersion program, Chemical Health, Comp Health, and community volunteers to help with these efforts.
The cultural committee has reached out to spiritual advisors for guidance in healing our band members suffering from addiction. The goal is to enhance traditional healing in our tribal programs and community wide. For example, we built a sweat lodge outside the Government Center for community use and looking at building sweat lodges in the other three districts. We have discussed many ideas, including providing the basic knowledge and importance of using asemaa (tobacco), receiving a Spirit Name. clans, colors, language, ceremonies, and songs. I genuinely feel that this path will help our relatives in healing.
"I want to acknowledge our front-line workers and tribal members who risked their health and safety during the height of the pandemic," said Beaulieu. "You all have shown the meaning of ogichihidaa and ogichidakwe through your hard work and dedication."
Jerry Loud, Director of Oskiimaajitahdah, (New Beginnings) gave a shout out to his 103 employees. He spoke of the much-needed 50 child care center coming soon.
"We need to be proud as Red Lakers because I think we did probably the best job and saved Minnesotans by mitigating this virus," Loud said. He spoke about new business developments supported by his organizations.
"We have all of these great things happening," he said, "but we've got to tell people about them."
Next Cheri Goodwin, Director of Family & Children Services, (FCA) was introduced. She noted big changes are in process at what will now be called Ombimindwaa Gidinanwemaaganinaadog. (Uplifting Our Relatives)
"Ombimindwaa is in the process of transforming our approaches and service delivery system to be rooted in Anishinaabe language, culture, traditions, beliefs, and values," said Goodwin. "Ombimindwaa's main focus is to focus on Intergenerational Family wellness."
Because the tribal government will be taking a larger role in child protective services, legislation was introduced in both the State House and Senate, to fund the construction of an $8.7 million children and family services inter-generational complex. The tribal initiative is off to a solid start."
Red Lake Nation began an American Indian Child Welfare initiative program recently," said Goodwin. "This program was created within a collaborative commitment between the tribal council and state governments with the shared goal of improving child welfare outcomes for American Indian children."
"94 children were reunited with their families in Red Lake this past year," said Goodwin to heavy applause. To honor the 94 Red Lake children reunited to their families in the past year, 94 carnations were handed out to those in attendance at the event.
Reyna Lussier, Chemical Health Programs. "Today I am here to report that our team plans to Expand Medication Assisted Recovery Services (MARS)," said Lussier. "We hope to provide more services to our members, and it will create more jobs opportunities in the Chemical Dependency Field."
Lussier pointed out that Covid changed the way they work. Since the Pandemic, Chemical Health worked quick on their feet to service members. The team continues to service members by transporting those needing it, to and from home to treatment or detox.
"Our prevention staff created two powerful digital videos in recovery and hope. We encourage our members to watch the two videos. It can be found on 'Our Red Lake Spirit' Facebook page."
"Lastly," said Lussier, "I'd like to thank all Chemical Health Employees for their dedication, being on the frontlines every day and sticking together through the pandemic. We appreciate all your hard work."
Dave Conner of the Self-Governance team was up next. Conner and his colleagues work with the tribe's Bureau of Indian Affairs self-governance programs. Self-governance operates like a block grant, where funds that the government would have spent to perform its trust and treaty obligations, are instead transferred to the tribe, because tribes know best how to manage services locally.
Conner spoke glowingly of the Biden Administration's support for Indian Country over the last administration.
"Perhaps one of the biggest signals of President Biden and Vice President Harris support for tribes, is their first budget request to Congress for 2022 includes major funding increases for critical tribal programs," said Conner. "For example, compared to the $450 million in BIA cuts proposed by the previous Administration each year, President Biden has a proposed a $728 million, or 24% increase, the largest increase in Indian Affairs funding ever proposed. And for the Indian Health Service, they also proposed the largest increase ever - $2.2 Billion, a 35% increase for Indian Health."
Michael Burns, Director, Department of Public Safety. Hired in August of last year, Burns is a Tribal Member originally from Ponemah. He spent most of his career in the Marine Corps and in Law Enforcement in California. He said it was truly an honor to be back home and to serve our people in this capacity.
"In many communities, law enforcement service has evolved into a "do-it-yourself" type model where on-line reporting is set up for some of the "mundane" calls," said Burns. "This is not how policing is done in Red Lake. We respond to all calls. If you have ever called for an Officer and have had to wait for some time, that is the reason. Officers are constantly prioritizing calls, responding to the more dangerous calls first.
In 2020, there were a total of 13,533 calls for service. There were: two Homicides; one Manslaughter by Negligence; 41 Aggravated assaults; 31 Burglaries; 33 Auto thefts; eight Arsons; 186 Thefts; one Robbery; five Rapes; and 247 Domestic Violence calls.
"Major crimes are investigated by our Criminal Investigation Division," Burns said. "Investigators work hand in hand with a team of Agents from the FBI. We enjoy great teamwork in working with the FBI and have solved many cases together. We are also working with the BIA Murdered and Missing Team to help solve some of our "cold cases."
"We and many other tribal organizations are highly concerned about the opioid epidemic, which has worsened during COVID-19, hope to solve the problem not by locking people up but by treating people with compassion, healing through Ojibwe culture and traditions."
Ogema Neadeau, Chief Prosecutor at Red Lake Nation Court, explained Red Lake's special unique status and the responsibilities of a non-280 tribe. The Red Lake Nation Tribal Court continues to collaborate with various Tribal Programs to address the issues identified in Court Cases i.e., Family & Children Services, Red Lake Chemical Health Programs, Red Lake Schools, Oshkiimahjiitahdah - Child Support Program, and others as needed.
Thomas Barrett, Director of Boys & Girls Club, touted the organization's adaptability, telling the crowd about how the programs quickly moved online, generated unprecedented grant money, and kept children fed. Graduates from Red Lake Nation College, the Headstart program, and Red Lake High School were also recognized during the event.
Nate Taylor, Director of Red Lake Immersion Program. You could hear the passion for teaching young people Ojibwemowin when Taylor took the microphone. He raved about all the Ojibwemowin he was hearing from his fellow speakers. Nearly all introduced themselves in Ojibwemowin, several speaking for minutes in the language of their ancestors.
Taylor also gave a shout-out to the two Mindimooye (elder women) who are making it all possible. "It wouldn't be happening without Frances "Frannie" Miller and her childhood friend, Elizabeth "Pug" Kingbird who are First Speakers and are the grandmas who oversee the curriculum, making sure the language use is correct.
Founded in 2014, Waasabiik Ojibwemotaadiwin is a full-on immersion program run by Red Lake Nation that's named after Anna Gibbs, an elder there who was a champion of the Ojibwe language. It's a Pre-K 3- & 4-year-old learning environment that focuses on instruction primarily using the Ojibwe language. They have a staff of approximately 12 hard working individuals working tirelessly on sharing the language both in and out of the classroom. Taylor says it's more like a family effort than a school.
"The number one challenge is finding teachers," Taylor said. "The ones that have their degrees, they usually aren't too fluent in the language, and the ones who are fluent speakers don't have degrees."
"America is a great big melting pot of cultures. But Red Lake is unique in the sense that it was never really part of the country," Taylor said. "It was always our home, and why not hold on to who we are?"
And, Taylor said, he and others owe it to their ancestors who helped traditional language and culture endure hardships like the boarding school era.
"There's not a safe haven to where the language exists because it was kind of basically ripped out of our hands, in a sense," Taylor said. "How do you keep it going? How do you teach your children that, so they don't have that empty void in them when they do their soul searching?"
Melinda Crowley, Superintendent of Red Lake Schools, spoke about the year endured by students, how some things worked well, other things not so well, and how the pandemic brought to light needs like internet and technology access.
"Over the last 16 months, we were faced with challenges we never imagined would happen in our lifetime," Crowley said. "As a community, we embraced that warrior spirit and controlled how COVID affected the nation."
As the time was well past noon, staff from New Beginnings began serving a "grab and go" meal of ribeye steak, walleye, baked potato, wild rice hotdish, corn on the cob, and bread roll to those remaining in the powwow stands. Drawings were held by numbers on the bottom of the dinner packages as Seki spoke and the crowd ate.
Chairman Darrell G. Seki, Sr.
Seki took the stage, and as is his custom, first spoke in his native Ojibwemowin. "Ozaawi Naabesim indizhinikaaz, Migizi indoodem, Obaashiing indoonjibaa," he said introducing himself, his clan and where he was from. He thanked the Council, Chiefs, Color Guard, the Drum Eyabay, Royalty Dancers, and Frances Miller for the invocation. He also thanked all the members and guests present.
Now speaking in his second language English. "It's an honor and I am humbled to stand before you all to present the State of the Band," he said. "We are a sovereign nation and sovereignty is our power."
"Our Red Lake Nation Membership are resilient Anishinaabe peoples. The 2020 pandemic, the COVID-19 virus challenged us as a Nation. We stood together as a united nation to face the challenge before us! You as Red Lake Nation Anishinaabe answered that challenge. We as a Nation had a unique approach in responding to the pandemic. We exercised our sovereignty."
Seki reflected on a timeline of the COVID-19 mitigation measures -- curfews, closures, and other significant changes -- withstood by tribal members. He declared medical martial law on April 1, 2020, closing the borders of Red Lake Nation.
"The reservation was effectively sealed off to the outside," Seki said. "To my knowledge, Red Lake was the only government in the United States to impose Medical Martial Law to protect its citizens from the COVID-19 virus. We did it to keep the virus away for as long as possible. The State of Minnesota supported us, and MN DOT even provided assistance with road barricades."
Seki then began an update on several projects including the new treatment center at Obaashiing, dialysis center, the hemp project, medical marijuana initiative, buffalo farm, and of Red Lake's Solar Energy Initiative.
He walked the crowd through the rest of the year -- on May 20, 2020, the first case of COVID-19 was discovered within Red Lake's borders. Borders were opened in October 2020, but mask requirements and other restrictions stayed in place. The first vaccines arrived in December, with all band members 18 and older being eligible to receive a shot on Feb. 4.
"We lost 10 of our members," Seki said solemnly, acknowledging the COVID deaths. "Native Americans suffered greater hospitalizations than any other. Case levels that are 3.5% higher than the white population."
Seki and other Red Lake leaders spoke about the other issues brought to light by the pandemic, including broadband and technology access, childcare, housing insecurity and drug overdoses.
New development and construction
"We completed the 105(C) Agreement with our Obaashiing Treatment Center which means that our facility is now licensed," Seki said. "The Red Lake Nation invested in the establishment of a new 32-bed chemical dependency and mental health in-patient treatment facility. The facility will house 16 men and 16 women to address the devastating effects caused by the abuse of alcohol and drugs. It is designed to address the substance abuse and associated mental health issues in our community.
Construction for the Red Lake Dialysis Center will start on Monday, June 1st, 2021. It will be connected to the Red Lake Hospital and will have 12 units. The Center is scheduled for completion next June 2022.
Seki also touched on the new Ojibwe-language immersion charter school that will open in the fall of 2022. The new buffalo arriving at the 80-acre bison farm, which was expanded and fenced in 2020. He spoke extensively on Red Lake's Solar project initiative, and other new construction including a new fire hall, and daycare center.
Red Lake Cannabis Program: "We are currently in the process of building our medical cannabis production facility for the Red Lake Medical Cannabis Program," said Seki. "This top-of-the-line facility will use state of the art growing technology that will deliver high quality cannabis. Our program will provide Red Lake Tribal member patients with the highest quality product at an affordable rate. We anticipate having product available at the beginning of 2022. Program information and how to sign up will be available later this year."
During his address, Seki also spoke out against Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline replacement project, stating, "They tell me to give it up, I will not give it up. They violated our treaty." These remarks were met with applause from the crowd.
Having finished his comprehensive report, and those in attendance having finished their most excellent dinner, the time seemed right for this fulfilling conclusion to the 2021 State of the Band Address. Seki then called on Eyabay again for a Healing Song followed by a Traveling Song. "Take care of your family, love one another, safe travels, concluded Seki."
Grab and Go Lunch, Oshi, delivered by young people to the crowd as Seki spoke.
Elected Officials & Special Guests in Attendance
Andy Martin, Northwest and Central Minnesota Director for US Senator Amy Klobuchar;
MN Senator District 41, New Brighton & Standing Rock Sioux member, Mary Kunesh; and MN State Representative, District 04A, & Yankton Sioux member Heather Keeler
Beltrami County Delegation
Tim Sumner, County Commissioner, & Red Lake Member; Commissioner Reed Olson; Commissioner Richard Anderson; Ernie Beitel, Beltrami County Sheriff; County Administrator Tom Barry; and Becky Secore, Beltrami County Health & Human Services Director.
City of Bemidji Delegation
Bemidji Mayor Jorge Prince, Bemidji City Councilors Daniel Jourdain At Large & Red Lake member; Audrey Thayer Ward 1 & White Earth member, and Emelie Rivera of Ward 4. Also attending, Nate Mathews, City Manager; and Mike Mastin, Chief of Police.
Friends of the Nation
Andy Wells of Wells Technology, Wells Academy & Red Lake member; Roger "Giniw" Moe, Former State Senate Majority Leader and adopted Red Laker; John Eggers, Creator of Project Graduate/100% Graduation & former RLHS Principal; Rita Albrecht, former Bemidji Mayor; Tim Flathers, Executive Director, Headwaters Regional Development (HRDC); Ryan Zemek, Incoming Executive Director of HRDC; Peacemakers Resource Director Barb Houg; Retired Professor, BSU, Environment & Economics; Curtiss Hunt, Chairman Beltrami County DFL; and Mary Forney, Vice Chair, Beltrami County DFL.
Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians Royalty
Ponemah Head Start; Princess Kambria Johnson and Brave Robert Cobenais, III
Red Lake Head Start; Princess Anevay Schoenborn and Chaska Wilson
Ponemah Elementary; Princess Rianna Cloud and Brave Cole Kingbird
Red Lake Elementary; Princess Grace Needham and Brave Adrian White
St. Mary's School; Princess Aniah Sumner and Brave John-Henry Defoe
Ponemah Labor Day; Princess Jasinda Kingbird and Brave Treyson Cloud
RLHS/RLMS; Princess Shia Donnell and Brave Steven Bellanger, Jr.
Red Lake Nation; Jr. Princess Natanne Caldwell and Jr. Brave Cade Dow
Red Lake Nation; Sr. Brave Sidney Kingbird
BSU Princess; Sophia Barrett
Red Lake Elders Gathering; Queen Sylvia Branchaud and King Ed Strong
2021 Red Lake Nation State of the Band Address
(Reports as Presented, Chairman Seki last)
Report from Samuel L. Strong, Tribal Secretary, Red Lake Nation
Hello, my name is Sam Strong, and I am the Tribal Secretary of the great Red Lake Nation. It is with honor that I present to you the 2021 Red Lake State of the Band Address.
2020 was quite the year. Not only did we experience a global pandemic with COVID-19, but we, as a community, came together to overcome the challenges it caused. It brought to light issues our community has faced for years. But we as a nation, united for a common cause, fought to keep our elders and vulnerable safe from COVID. Together we stand stronger. Together we are overcoming this terrible pandemic. It was not without loss. But we did come together. WE did unite against one of the biggest challenges our Nation has faced. This allows us to see the strength in our unity. The strength in our community.
As we rise from the cloud of COVID, let us invest in our people like never before. Together we can overcome the drug epidemic, lack of childcare, and poverty that some of our people face. We cannot go back to the way things were, but we do have the opportunity to create a new normal. We can confront these issues much like we tackled COVID.
I was in a meeting not too long ago and one of our police officers stood up and said, " If we band together to fight the drug epidemic like we fought COVID, we would see much more progress".
I ask all of you to be a part of changing our community for the better. I ask all of you to have compassion for those that are going through addiction. To have compassion for their families. To show them support. Even when they get knocked down, you stand there with a helping hand. To help them get better. To help heal our community.
These people are our family. They are our relatives. Our brothers, our sisters, our mothers, our children, and we cannot forget them.
It is time for all of us to unite and get behind all of our people. To open our hearts and forgive people for the mistakes and hurt they may have caused. Forgive them with strength, love, and most importantly, to forgive them with a helping hand. As Mahatma Gandhi said, "the weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."
Over the past year, we have accomplished many great things, even in light of the pandemic we faced. We made an enrollment change and this has allowed many band members to become enrolled, that lived in our community and participated in our way of life. For this I am proud. Our enrollment change allowed us to enroll 2000 new members. These are our neighbors. These are the language speakers at our school. These are the people that will carry on our traditions. Although we did not create a permanent solution to enrollment, we started a process of opening the door for our people, our members. We started looking to the future and no longer will we allow for this colonial system that America has pushed on us to destroy our people, to eliminate our people. We have transformed the system that was meant to destroy us. This termination era policy was destined to leave; we were able to unite behind a change that will allow our children and generations to come to continue to be seen.
There is still much work to be done. We need to continue to have these conversations about a permanent fix. A fix that does not inundate our systems. A fix that gradually allows us to add members and to continue to have our descendants and children enrolled in this tribe. We will not allow the government to eliminate us. We will stand strong like our ancestors did in 1863 and in 1889. We will stand strong for them. Our reservation will be for our people forever. We will protect this land, that was protected by our ancestors.
There are things that we need to do to better educate existing members and new members on our identity. I ask all of you to be a part of this solution. I ask you aU to stand up and be the Warriors of today. To be Warriors of our culture. To be the Warriors of our language. To be the warriors for those children whose parents are struggling. Together we can overcome any obstacle that is faced. We have started to do this with the drug epidemic.
We recognize the urgency behind tackling this issue and I'd like to commend our programs, like: Chemical Health, Public Safety, our courts, and everyone that has participated in the Community Overdose Response Team. They are working closely together to create culturally specific recovery programming. We have created a new law enforcement assisted diversion program that will help addicts instead of criminalizing them by throwing them in jail, which continues the cycle of addiction.
We are opening a new treatment center in Ponemah. We've opened a wellness clinic in at Mino-B and our Urban Anishinaabe Culture Connection Program, was established for our urban Band members.
We are looking at ways to help people, as opposed to punishing those that are going through addiction. These people are going through a mental health crisis as a result of their addiction. Let us give them the tools and support they will need to succeed. Let us embrace all of our people, to create a better Red Lake for our next generation.
We have also invested in our culture and language. I am proud to say we will be launching a charter school next year. This charter school will be based in the culture, the language, and the traditions of our people. This is the most important thing we can do. Creating the Next Generation of language speakers. People that will carry on our culture, the Warriors of today.
This school will be opening next fall. We will be working with the community, planning our curriculum, building our school. We will make this dream become a reality. We need to do it for our children. For this, I am grateful for everyone that has helped and will continue to be a part of this much-needed change.
There are other obstacles our community face and it is important to recognize that many of our people are going through struggles. They struggle to pay the bills, they struggle with poverty, they struggle with childcare, and other obstacles to employment. We are in a crisis. We are unable to fill jobs in the government, at the casinos, at our businesses. We need to take away the barriers that prevent our people from having meaningful jobs and meaningful careers. We have started this by raising the minimum wage. We have started by created a livable wage for
our people. We need to provide access to the rest of the tools to succeed. We are committed to this; we have built a new childcare facility in Red Lake. We are building a new childcare facility in Ponemah. I am committed, over the next two years, to taking away these obstacles. Starting with providing childcare for all community members. This will allow every person that is able to work, the resources they need to succeed.
We created election changes that will allow more time for our voices to be heard. Based on community feedback after the last election, many were concerned there wasn't enough time to return absentee ballots. So, we have added a month onto our election schedule to allow for these absentee ballots to be filled out and returned in a timely manner. We need all of our people to participate in our tribal elections. Your voice MATTERS.
In the last election, we held a referendum vote on medical marijuana and your voices were heard. The tribe has invested in a medical marijuana facility to provide affordable medical marijuana to our members.
So, as we rise from the cloud of COVID. Let us remember, we have the opportunity to create a new normal for our people. We need to celebrate our identity and most importantly, we need to continue to use the tools that were given to us, that were fought for over many years. These tools are inside of all of us. The teachings are inside all of us. It is our time to take these tools, use them, and teach our children. Let us stand together. Let us make a new normal. Let us not be complacent when it comes to drugs and poverty. Let us stand up for those that are in need. Every one of us has a part in making our Nation a stronger place, with a brighter future.
Report from Annette Johnson, Tribal Treasurer, Red Lake Nation
Good morning friends and relatives, I'd like to welcome all of our tribal members, visitors and guests and members of the Tribal Council to the 2021 State of the Band for the Red Lake Nation.
It's been a while since we have gathered together and it's truly a pleasure and honor to be here with you all. First, I would like to acknowledge and thank Zhaawan for the opening prayer, our Three Star Warrior Society Honor Guard for bringing in the flags and colors and would especially like to extend great thanks to all our veterans for your service to the people. I also want to acknowledge all our Red Lake Nation royalty for being an ambassador for our Nation and your patience as we experienced an interruption of gatherings and events in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, I would like to mention all our dignitaries from other levels of government that are present today or have shared messages today. Finally, I want to thank the Eyabay singers for the songs you rendered for today. This shows it takes all people coming together to make things happen.
To begin, I would like to highlight 2019 activities based on our 2019 Audit Report of the Red Lake Band:
• Construction projects continued in 2019 on USDA funded infrastructure, equipment and community projects. These included the Red Lake Dialysis Center, Red Lake Community Center, Redby Community Center, Redby Water Storage Tank, Red Lake Fire Hall, Ponemah Fire Hall, and Obaashiing Chemical Dependency Treatment Center, with USDA funding including both loan and grant sources.
• Loan proceeds from USDA have increased since 2017:
• $1,998,786 in 2017
• $5,263,270 in 2018 (over 250% increase from 2017)
• $8,071,764 in 2019 (150% increase from 2018)
• The Permanent Trust Fund showed net investment and interest income less service charge expenses of $15.3 million for the year 2019. Since 2009, a stipulated amount has been available from the investment earnings of the Fund. In 2019, the Tribal Council was able to declare a per capita distribution of $200 per tribal member, for an estimated total of $2.4 million. Additionally, $485,000 was set aside from the Trust Fund distribution to pay for Red Lake Department of Natural Resources reforestation projects and $2.3 million was directed toward tribal government operations – including veteran's programs, community center programming and improvements, and culture and language. The total amount drawn in 2019 was $5,266,857 and this included a deviation from the Available Funds calculation to cover additional tribal government operation needs.
• The amount available in 2020 was approximately $4,131,779 million. Another deviation from the plan was done for the total draw at $8,610,779. A $500 distribution was provided to almost 15,000 tribal members; $475,000 was for Red Lake Department of National Resources reforestation projects and the remaining $8.13 million was directed towards tribal government operations – including veterans programming, community center programming and improvement, and cultural and language. The 2021 available amount and the associated purpose have yet to be determined by the Tribal Council.
In December 2020, the Tribal Council approved a change in investment management from Stolper & Company to Sovereign Investment Advisors. The transition did not occur until early in 2021 and we have since formalized governing documents, implemented policies and an investment committee was formed and meets regularly to monitor these funds.
GOVERNMENT-WIDE FINANCIAL POSITION
Total Assets 247,403,697 217,597,658
Total Liabilities 94,269,840 70,223,200
Total Net Position 153,133,857 147,371,458
Total assets increased compared to prior year end by approximately $29.8 million due to an increase in the value of the investments, due from related parties, due from other governmental assets, notes receivable and capital assets.
Total liabilities increased compared to the prior year end by approximately $24.0 million due to increased long-term debt related to construction projects and an increase in unearned revenue.
Unearned revenue increased compared to prior year by $14.1 million
Net position increased from prior year end by $5.8 million ending at $153.1 million at year end.
A significant portion of both assets and net position for the government wide statement is related to the Tribal Trust Fund, which is restricted and non-spendable except for an annual calculated amount from its earnings that is available for government purposes as determined by the Tribal Council.
In 2019 our total revenues were $108,084,880 compared to 2018 of $76,829,317 which is an increase of $31,255,563 (28.9% over prior year)
In 2019 our total expenditures were $106,108,904 compared to 2018 of $97,454,615 which is an increase of $8,654,289 (8.1% over prior year)
The largest category of services was Health Services at $27.9 million, followed by Social Services at $13.6 million, Public Works at $11.1 million, General Government at $9.8 million, and Public Safety at $9.3 million.
1,009 W2's issued for 2019 1,043 W2's issued for 2020 (3.3% inc 2019)
Total Wages $30,994,919 Total Wages $40,778,839 (31.5% inc. 2019)
Additional costs of the Tribe were for the 401k Profit Sharing Retirement Plan - annual 5% contribution to employee's compensation was $1,417,915 in 2019 and in 2020, the cost was $1,543,918. This benefit was available to all eligible employees.
In March 2020, we experienced a major change to our operations with COVID-19. The Tribe executed Medical Martial Law for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Programs were limited to those essential services such as healthcare, and front-line employees dedicated to mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic.
We received over $38 million in grants and federal awards to address the pandemic including State funds of $1 million distributed to each of the 11 Tribes in MN. Grants were also received to address specific health care needs, purchase PPE (personal protective equipment) and address the food distributions within our communities; all purchases were approved by the Tribal Council.
A majority of the $38 million was spent on:
• Covid relief payments to tribal members over 18 – $9.23 million (25%)
• Hazard pay / safety pay - $11.8 million (32%)
• Border patrol costs - $3.3 million (9%)
• Food program – $550,000 (1.5%)
• Program projects and enterprise related costs – over $12.2 million (32%)
We are grateful for all the additional help that was given to us at that time.
We received $5.8 million for Emergency Rental Assistance to meet the needs of our Tribal members for past due rent, prospective rent for the next three months, past due utilities, and other costs related to addressing housing needs.
As of May 17, 2021, we have paid out $241K and are working through hundreds of applications.
This funding has to be obligated by September 30, 2021, and spent by December 31, 2021.
We have taken on a major effort, and I first would like to thank the team in place including our Minneapolis Urban Embassy staff, Red Lake Housing staff, Secretary's and Treasury's staff that have endured growing pains with this process. We appreciate all those that have applied and respectfully ask for your patience as we have endured many challenges during this time. We have been in contact with other Tribes to understand their challenges and determined they have similar issues. An update will follow shortly on the Tribes' social media and web sites.
Under the current administration, we also are included in the American Rescue Plan (ARP) which has earmarked $20 billion to all federal recognized Tribes.
The funding objectives of this much needed relief are for:
• Supporting urgent COVID-19 response efforts to continue to decrease spread of the virus and bring the pandemic under control
• Replace lost revenue for eligible state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments to strengthen support for vital public services and help retain jobs
• Support immediate economic stabilization for households and businesses
• Address systemic public health and economic challenges that have contributed to the inequal impact of the pandemic
Allocation of the ARP funds will be based on enrollment data (65%) and tribal enrollment (35%). Certified enrollment is 15,070; we are currently reconfirming that information based on 2019 941's that were submitted for the US Treasury round of funding last year.
We have until December 31, 2024, to spend this funding and are currently working with Bluestone Strategy Group, to formulate a plan on how this funding is used. Other federal agency funding is available to meet our needs and Bluestone will assist us in leveraging use of all the funding sources.
This whole process has been time consuming but yet rewarding as this funding will assist the Tribe in many areas.
I would like to thank the Treasurer's staff and the Tribal program staff as we continue to move forward with policy revisions and updates to further improve our processes. We have a software implementation occurring later this year, our 2020 audit is underway and targeted to complete on time. We also are working toward improvements in cash management, program monitoring and increased controls to improve our operations.
I would also like to thank the Tribal Council, Hereditary Chiefs and Program Directors and staff for all your efforts that we have taken during these difficult times.
We have faced many challenges these last 14 months and I do see better things in our future.
We still have a long road ahead of us but working together we can improve the lives of our Tribal members and their families.
Last but not least, I would like to acknowledge all those graduates from the Headstart, Pre-school, Immersion program, Kindergarten, 5th grade, 8th grade, High School and College at this time. Your accomplishments are truly admirable and setting the pace towards a bright future for our Tribe.
Enjoy your day, this upcoming holiday weekend and whatever else you have plans for!
We have so much to be thankful for and to celebrate!
Stay safe and be proud – we are Red Lake Anishinaabeg!!
Report from Martina Beaulieu, Executive Director, Red Lake Nation
Aaniin nindinawemaaganidog Martina Beaulieu nindizhinikaaz zhaaganaashiimong. Migizi nindoodem. Ogaakaaning nindoonjibaa
Aaniin Red Lake Tribal Membership. I am Martina Beaulieu, Executive Director of the Red Lake Nation. I welcome you all to the Red Lake Nation 2021 state of the band address.
Over a year ago, we were in a packed room at the Red Lake Seven Clans Casino Event Center at the 2020 state of the band, sitting with one another, eating with one another, enjoying one another's company without worry. We listened to our tribal leadership speak on the tribe's sovereignty and citing progress on several projects. As I stand here today and reflect on those times, I can say I miss those little moments.
A month later, a global pandemic emerged, the coronavirus changed our lives. The way we live, work, and co-exist will never be the same. 2020 was a tough time. Red Lake tribal membership faced many hardships; many people had difficulties facing isolation and the sickness COVID brought to our reservation. But we stood up with courage, gratitude, and resilience.
At a special tribal council meeting March of 2020, the tribal council took measures and placed a medical martial law to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We had a border patrol with this medical martial law to monitor and control the activity coming through the reservation borders. With COVID-19 at our doorsteps, Administration coordinated with Oshkiimaajitahdah, the food shelf, RL housing, the four district community centers, Red Lake IHS, and other tribal programs to ensure our tribal members received food and supplies.
I want to acknowledge our front-line workers and tribal members who risked their health and safety during the height of the pandemic. You all have shown the meaning of ogichihidaa and ogichidakwe through your hard work and dedication.
During this pandemic, we still faced the drug epidemic. We met first-hand our relative who overdosed or passed away, and we continue to face these challenges. In January, Michael Burns, Director of Public Safety, started the Community Overdose Response Team. The CORT committee has 14 committees, and Chairman Seki and I are on the cultural committee. I want to share what the cultural committee is doing.
In early February, the cultural committee started with five team members, including myself, and has grown to over 15 members from various tribal programs like the Immersion program, Chemical Health, Comp Health, and even community members volunteering time to help with these efforts. We have bi-weekly meetings at the Government Center on Wednesdays from 3 pm to 4 pm, and our next meeting will be on June 9th. The cultural committee has reached out to spiritual advisors for guidance in healing our band members suffering from addiction. The goal is to enhance traditional healing in our tribal programs and community wide. For example, we built a sweat lodge outside the Government Center for community use and looking at building sweat lodges in the other three districts. We have discussed many ideas, including cultural nights in each district, to provide the basic knowledge and importance of using and handing tobacco, receiving a name and its meaning, clans, colors, language, ceremonies, and songs. I genuinely feel that this path will help our relatives heal who are battling with addiction and the family members and friends standing by their side in this battle.
Speaking of relatives, that reminds me about the Mino-Bimaadiziwin development. Back on December 21st, the Mino-Bimaadiziwin apartment opened its doors to house our tribal members. Mino-Bimaadiziwin offers 10 studios, 15 one-bedroom, 55 two-bedroom, and 30 three-bedroom apartments in a six-story building with ample green space, shared underground parking, and a complete amenity package. We currently have 73 households moved in. The Mino-Bimaadiziwin offers a wellness clinic headed by Dr. Laurelle Myhra, a Red Lake Band member. Some key developments include Dr. Myhra submitted three grants totaling 2.6 million to cover the cost of staffing at the wellness center, including a culturally responsive dosing clinic and intensive outpatient program.
Finally, I want to say thank you to our whole tribal workforce; without you, we would not be here, the tribal council members, and our tribal membership.
Report from Cheri Goodwin, Executive Director Children and Family Services
Boozhoo-Aaniin-Wabahskii Anaqud Indizinaqud Misquagiminziigaigan-Miigizii Indomdum-Cheri Goodwin, Red Lake Nation Executive Director of Ombimindwaa Gidinanwemaaganinaadog
Gih-done-uh-way-maa-gun-ne-naa-dug, which translates to "Uplifting Our Relatives".
Special shout out to all of our relatives watching this via live stream, to our Tribal Council/Hereditary Chiefs/ and Ombimindwaa staff for all their support. Big shout out to our families we work with without their support and them engaging/trusting our system we wouldn't be able to drop our disparities numbers once and for all.
To our relatives:
Our belief is that all families can prosper. Our belief is that healthy families are the foundation of our community and that as a Nation we must be unified to support and preserve our families. Our children are sacred beings-we respect this teaching. Families need every opportunity to remain together, so it is our commitment to the community that Ombimindwaa will work toward positive relationships, ensuring families receive supportive help and services they feel engaged in, and that children are safe and secure. Ombimindwaa recognizes that each family knows their family best, so every effort will be made to get to know the strengths and needs through the eyes of the family.
Ombimindwaa honors our ways of Anishinaabeg life which includes our language, tradition, culture, traditional healing, and caretaking of children that may look different from outside practices. Our commitment is to the family to reduce barriers that lead to out of home placement-family preservation. We will address the number of Red Lake Children in out of home placement and will focus efforts on intervention, preservation, and support services for families. This is our first movement toward truth and reconciliation within our Nation to reinvent and redesign our practice. What I just read was our introduction page to our Intergenerational Family Wellness Practice Model recently approved by Tribal Resolution.
RLN/Beltrami County and Minnesota department of human services-Historical Event On 01/01/2021 Red Lake Nation has begun to be an American Indian Child Welfare Initiative Program. "The American Indian Child Welfare Initiative is a significant child welfare reform in Minnesota. This program was created with a collaborative commitment between, tribal, county and state governments with the shared goal of improving child welfare outcomes for Indian Children."
Beltrami County and Red Lake Nation worked collaboratively together, lobbying MN state legislatures, with the goal of Red Lake Nation administering fiscal and legal requirements of their child welfare organization. Government to Government relationships working together.
Our team has been busy doing trainings, during this COVID pandemic:
We provided or facilitated 35 different types of training with an average attendance of 26 staff & participants for each training. Some trainings of note that all staff received include training on our Anishinaabeg practice model, decolonizing social work practices, cultural humility, and culturally restorative practices. These trainings are closely aligned with our mission of uplifting all of our relatives and focusing on reunifying families.
• Commercial break for some really big news! One of the barriers we've had is the lack of space to provide intergenerational services. We've been knocking on the door of our state legislatures and lobbying thru our annual Red Lake Nation Day at the State Capital to seek funding for a Red Lake Nation Intergenerational family center. We have been successful in our efforts and were awarded a 5.575-million-dollar Equality grant from the MN State Legislatures General Fund. We have our schematic designs almost completed. We will be doing dirt work later this summer and plan to start building early next spring-location? North of the RL store-lake side-the home site I had the privilege to grew up on.
• Children's Healing Center: We finally got the healing center open for 24/7 residential care for our young relatives. We have 21 resilient staff providing 24/7 culturally specific staffing.
• Finally: I'm honored and proud to announce that last year we reunified 94 children with their families by actively engaging with our relatives. As Chairman Seki always tells me- "bring our kids home". In honor of our children we are giving out 94 Carnation flowers. Please feel free to take a flower home to remember it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a team to actively engage with our relatives to keep our children home. Would our Ombimindwaa team please stand and raise their left hand up and be recognized-This my relatives is what Tribal Sovereignty, team work and Decolonization of our systems looks like.
Report from Reyna Lussier, Red Lake Chemical Health
Boozhoo Red Lake Members, Tribal Leaders, Chiefs. Chi minidoo makwa iwke nindizhnikaaz
Waabizheshi nindoodem. Redby nindoojibaa
Today I am here to report that our team plans to Expand Medication Assisted Recovery Services (MARS). We hope to provide more services to our members, and it will create more jobs opportunities in the Chemical Dependency Field.
Also, we are planning to open an intensive outpatient services in Red Lake Detention along with MAT services 2021-2022.
Due to the unforeseen circumstances 2020, Covid changed the way we work. Since the Pandemic Chemical Health worked quick on their feet to service our members. We are doing our Comprehensive Assessments & treatment services tele health. We did operate 50% Capacity at our inpatient facilities. We continued to service our members by transporting our relatives to from home to treatment or detox.
Our prevention staff created two powerful digital videos in recovery and hope. We encourage our members to watch the two videos. It can be found on "Our Red Lake Spirit" Facebook page. Miindooyeh loves her community to promote positive community norms & Portraits of Recovery that highlights three tribal members share their journey to recovery.
Also, I would like to take this opportunity to announce that we have been working side by side with the Community Overdose Response Team.
"It takes a community to heal a community" We are calling on community members to help heal and address the overdose epidemic. CHP has vacant positions please apply we need your help.
This month CORT had their first Community Meeting that took place in Red Lake May 19. We had about over 100-community member's show up to the meeting. Many great questions were asked. Our next community meetings is June 9 in Redby, June 23 in Ponemah, & July 14 in Little Rock.
We plan to have food, drinks and prizes. Meeting will be starting 3-6pm, Please attend. If you are unable to attend, we ask you to search "Our Red Lake Spirit" Facebook page, we plan to broadcast the meeting live where community members can also ask questions.
Lastly, I like to thank all Chemical Health Employees for their dedication, being on the frontlines every day and sticking together through the pandemic. We appreciate all your hard work.
Report from Dave Conner, Red Lake Self Governance Programs
Good morning, my name is Dave Conner, I and my colleagues work with the tribe's Bureau of Indian Affairs self-governance programs. Self-governance operates like a block grant, where funds that the government would have spent to perform its trust and treaty obligations, are instead transferred to the tribe, because tribes know best how to manage services locally.
Red Lake began self-governance 25 years ago. Of the 574 federally recognized tribes, 40% operate BIA programs under self-governance, including Family & Children Services, Scholarships & Adult Ed, Job Training, Natural Resources, Public Safety, Courts, Road maintenance, Tribal Realty, and the Fire department.
BIA funding is essential for the Tribe to operate these programs, but the funding levels are much too low. For instance, last year Red Lake had to spend $5 million more than the BIA provided, just for our public safety programs.
Despite inadequate BIA funding, the previous Administration attempted to cut BIA and tribal funding by more than $450 million each year. However, our friends in Congress, acting on a bi-partisan basis, rejected the previous Administration's attempts to cut Indian Affairs funding.
The Biden/Harris Administration promised that upholding America's Trust Responsibilities to Tribal Nations would be a priority, and so far, they are keeping that promise.
One of their very first actions was to issue a memorandum to the heads of all federal agencies on tribal consultation and strengthening nation-to-nation relationships, to ensure that honoring treaty obligations and tribal consultation is a priority.
Another important step was the appointment of Deb Halaand as Secretary of Interior, the first Native American to serve as Interior Secretary as well as the first Native American Cabinet Secretary in United States history. Her appointment was not popular among resource exploiters and the Old Boys Club in DC. But Red Lake and tribes across the country demonstrated their support, and a special shout out to Red Lake's own Holly Cook Macarro, who helped coordinate tribal efforts to see Secretary Halaand confirmed. It will be refreshing to have an Interior Secretary who cares about protecting mother earth, instead of exploiting it like the previous Administration.
Another major action was the re-convening of the White House Council on Native American Affairs.The Council will coordinate with Tribal Nations as it advances work on key issues such as climate change, Tribal homelands and treaties; economic development, energy and infrastructure; health; education; and public safety and justice. The Council is Chaired by Secretary Halaand, and the first meeting included 10 Cabinet members and more than 30 federal agency leads. The Council was first established during the Obama Administration, at the request of tribal leaders. The Council was tabled by the previous Administration, and it's great to see it is back.
The White House also announced that it will hold a Tribal Leaders Summit later this year. The purpose of the Summit is to provide an opportunity for tribal leaders to interact directly with the President and representatives from the highest levels of the Administration. This is another event begun under the Obama Administration, but abandoned by the previous Administration.
And perhaps one of the biggest signals of President Biden and Vice President Harris support for tribes, their first budget request to Congress for 2022 includes major funding increases for critical tribal programs. For example, compared to the $450 million in BIA cuts proposed by the previous Administration each year, President Biden has a proposed a $728 million, or 24% increase, the largest increase in Indian Affairs funding ever proposed. And for the Indian Health Service, they also proposed the largest increase ever - $2.2 Billion, a 35% increase for Indian Health. There is an old Budget saying, the President proposes, and Congress disposes. But, when the President requests more funding for Indian Affairs, it makes it easier for Congress to do better for tribes. And as I mentioned, when it comes to funding for Indian Affairs and Indian Health, the Interior Appropriations Committees are perhaps the most bi-partisan committees in Congress, something that is now so rare, given the current perversion of politics, from Arizona to Texas to Georgia to DC.
So, although there is much to do in and for Indian Country, things are looking better for tribes now, with the Biden/Harris Administration. Thank you.
Report from Michael Burns, Director of Public Safety
Good morning Chairman Seki, Tribal Council Members, Hereditary Chiefs, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
My name is Michael Burns. I am the Director of Public Safety for the Red Lake Nation. I am a Tribal Member originally from Ponemah. I have spent most of my career in the Marine Corps and in Law Enforcement out in California. It is truly an honor to be back home and to serve our people in this capacity.
Since being hired in August of last year, I have been surprised by the volume and variety of calls that the Police Department responds to. The amount of drug activity and violent crime, such as shootings and domestic violence, was eye-opening. I can say that there have been calls here that I have never encountered in my 27 years in law enforcement in California!
In many communities, law enforcement service has evolved into a "do-it-yourself" type model where on-line reporting is set up for some of the "mundane" calls. This is not how policing is done in Red Lake. We respond to all calls. If you have ever called for an Officer and have had to wait for some time, that is the reason. Officers are constantly prioritizing calls, responding to the more dangerous calls first.
In 2020, there were a total of 13,533 calls for service. There were: two Homicides; one Manslaughter by Negligence; 41 Aggravated assaults; 31 Burglaries; 33 Auto thefts; eight Arsons; 186 Thefts; one Robbery; five Rapes; and 247 Domestic Violence calls.
Major crimes are investigated by our Criminal Investigation Division. Investigators work hand in hand with a team of Agents from the FBI. We enjoy great teamwork in working with the FBI and have solved many cases together. We are also working with the BIA Murdered and Missing Team to help solve some of our "cold cases."
Additionally, there were:
307 Driving while intoxicated arrests (One of our Officers led all Officers in the State of Minnesota in DWI arrests!): 126 Assaults; 278 Disorderly conduct:
We served 84 Search warrants; made 256 Drug arrests: Seized 1990.961 Drugs Seized/Gram: Along with $70,111.10 of Currency Seized from drug dealers
Staffing has been a challenge, especially for such as busy department. Finding qualified tribal members for officer positions has been a challenge. We have had several job fairs and recruitment campaigns with marginal success.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Medical Marshall Law was put in place by the Chairman. One of the measures put in place in March 2020, was to establish a Border Security Team. Over 70 tribal members were hired in a short amount of time and put in place around the clock at seven access points to the reservation. This ran through October 2020. Supervision of the Border Security Team fell to law enforcement and required additional resources and overtime.
Covid-19 took a huge toll on our staff. At one time, between our dispatchers and patrol staff, over half of our personnel were either positive or quarantined after exposure to someone who was sick. Our staff worked extra hours to cover the shifts lost to illness. We could not stay home and or do our work remotely. We answered the call of duty as Covid-19 made its way across our land.
Our Conservation Officers have stepped up to help the Police Department when needed. They have a very busy workload also, responding to calls on our reservation and out in the ceded lands.
Through a partnership with Red Lake Gaming, we were able to hire an Officer to work in the Casinos to help with some of the problems they were facing.
The Department runs the Sex Offender Registry Program and the Victim's Services Program. Both programs have expanded service to the community over the past year.
The Red Lake Fire Department, with a combination of Full-time and Part-time Firefighters, had a busy 2020 responding to numerous calls for service including arson calls, medical emergencies and severe accidents. Look for notable improvements at the Fire Department this year.
Narcan Deployments: 53 deployments
Narcan deployments: 496 (total 4mg doses) 124 (actual deployments)
In November 2020, we experienced a sharp increase in overdoses including fatal overdoses on the Reservation. I went to Chairman Seki and said, "Mr. Chairman, we have a problem." He agreed and soon I asked the Tribal Council to form the Community Overdose Response Team.
Almost all of the overdoses are attributed to the use of the dangerous drug called fentanyl.
We formed the Community Overdose Response Team and established various committees to identify opportunities and incorporate solutions by creating both short and long-term plans. The committees include Enforcement, Prosecution, Incarceration, Treatment, Family Health, Community Education, Cultural Wellness, Mental Health, Plan Management, Barrier resolution and Re-entry strategies. We are breaking down the barriers and coming up with realistic and forward-thinking solutions to the overdose and addiction problem here on the reservation.
If you have a narcotics problem in your neighborhood or if you know someone struggling with addiction, please call our anonymous tip line with information: 218-679-1922. We want to help!
I am very proud of the work that our Police officers, Fire Fighters, Dispatchers, Sex Offenders Program staff, Victim Service Advocates and our Administrative Staff do every day. You have some of the finest men and women protecting our community's day and night that you could ask for.
In closing, my philosophy as the leader of our Public Safety is that Community and Safety come first. They go hand in hand. I want my officers and staff out there visiting with you and working with you to help make our reservation the safest that it can be.
Report from Nathaniel Taylor, Director of the Waasabiik Ojibwemotaadiwin Immersion Program, on the New Immersion Charter School to Begin Fall 2022
GIKINOO'AMAWISHIN JI-GIKENDAASOYAAN "TEACH ME AND I WILL KNOW"
Mission: To prepare each student for college with an enhanced knowledge of the Ojibwe language, culture, leadership, and environmental stewardship.
Vision: Endazhi-Nitaawiging's vision is to create confident leaders grounded in their true inherent identities and to ensure that they are academically, socially, and spiritually prepared to positively change the community and world.
Endazhi-Nitaawiging will open Fall 2022 by enrolling students in grades K-5, and will add a grade each year until 2025-26, expanding to students in grades K-8.
At the heart of Ojibwe culture is the connection between individuals and Mother Earth. The Red Lake Charter Schools aims to strengthen the Red Lake Nation by providing our children with an education grounded in Ojibwe values that is academically rigorous and celebrates Indigenous culture.
Anishinaabeg (Indigenous people) did not separate themselves from the land; our Mother Earth's connection is the umbilical cord to our existence. Indigenized education is the restoration of who we are to the places we call home.
The intellectual framework will be constructed based on our relationship with the land, air, water, plants, and animals. We are firm believers in the Indigenous genius among our people. We will embrace our Indigenous resiliency through our educational platform.
• ● Established Founding Board
• ● Collaborative community stakeholders
• ● School Application submitted 1/21
• ● Application Approved by Osprey Wilds 4/21
• ● Beginning enrollment capacity 86 students
• ● Establish 501-C3 and launch fundraising campaign
• ● Endazhi-Nitaawiging Charter School will open Fall 2022
• ● Ojibwe Language and Culture Revitalization and Preservation
• ● Indigenized Education
Goals and Outcomes:
• ● Environmental Sustainability
• ● College and Career Readiness
• ● Health and Wellness
• ● Leadership Development
• ● Land-Based & Experiential Learning
• ● Community Engagement
Report from Melinda A. Crowley, Superintendent, Red Lake School District #38
Bangii eta indoojibwem I only speak a little Ojibwe
Giishpin wa ni giizh wey aan am pegish
wii-ma naa ji'iwaad gichi-aya-aag If I misspeak I hope the elders go easy on me.
Melinda Crowley In di zhi ni kaaz My name is Melinda Crowley
Chi-ogi maa kwe Indaaw I am the big boss lady
Miskwaa ga mi zaa ga 'igan At the Red Lake
Gi ki noo' a maa di' wig a mi gong School(s)
Ni Mii gwe chi wen dam Wii do ka wa gwaa I am thankful to be helping
Gi ki noo'a maa ga nag minawaa ogitiziiman Students and their parents
Ji-mino se waad niigaan akeyaa for things to go good into the future
Wii do ko daa di daa Let's help each other
ji bi mi wi doo yang to carry
gaa-mii ni go zi yang what was given to us (gifts)
The last time I stood before you at the state of the band address was 16 months ago on February 28th, I ended that speech saying "Go Warriors" as our teams were preparing to compete in the state tournaments. Little did I know, even though we got to the state tournament we would play our first game and be sent home because of COVID.
However, I have realized over these last several months that "Go Warriors" was very accurate for what our students the school community and the entire Red Lake community has done over these last 16 months. We were faced with challenges we had never imagine would happen in our lifetime.
As a community we embraced the "Warrior Spirit" and controlled how COVID effected the nation. I am not saying that we didn't struggle at times, however, struggle is part of being a warrior. This Year our students and staff faced challenges daily and found ways to work through them and to support each other. We tried things, some of them worked and some of them did not so we tried to find out what worked for each of our students. As we conclude the 20-21 school year we are anticipating 33 graduates for sure and a possibility of 35 to walk across the stage tomorrow concluding their high school career and beginning a new phase of their life's journey.
We are going to be setting up additional educational and cultural experiences for Red Lake youth over the next two years. The district will be looking for guidance from the community as to what they would like to see and what would be effective to increase academic outcomes for our students.
I want to say for the students who return next year we anticipate the year will begin with in person instruction. The district and Comp health will continue to closely monitor health and safety concerns and adjust accordingly. Students will be able to attend classes, be involved in activities/athletics, and participate in the "normal" parts of education. The district is looking forward to returning to in person learning. The district wants all youth of Red Lake to have an opportunity for PK-12 education that meets their needs and allows them to grow to come back to be leaders of the Red Lake Nation.
Gi da pii te ni mi ni nim
Report from Darrell G. Seki, Sr. Chairman, Red Lake Nation
Good morning Red Lake Nation Tribal Membership. It's an honor and humbling to stand before you all to present to you the 2021 State of the Band Address.
Our Red Lake Nation Membership are resilient Anishinaabe peoples. The 2020 pandemic, the COVID-19 virus challenged us as a Nation. We stood together as a united nation to face the challenge before us! You as Red Lake Nation Anishinaabe answered that challenge. We as a Nation had a unique approach in responding to the pandemic. We exercised our sovereignty.
On March 13, 2020, we did not panic. We stood together as one nation, united to respond to the Pandemic. The COVID-19 Emergency Response Plan was implemented for the membership of the Red Lake Nation. It was a very difficult decision to impose all the restrictions on the membership, but something had to be done for the safety and well-being of all of us from this COVID-19 virus.
On March 13, 2020, the Red Lake Nation declared a Public Health Emergency due to COVID-19. We then implemented a 3-step process including resolutions each with more restrictive requirements based on the best data available. The first step included imposing a curfew on the reservation from 10pm to 6am each day in an effort to keep the virus at bay. This measure was implemented on March 23rd, 2020. The second step in the process, if best information warranted it, was shelter in place/quarantine orders requiring tribal members to stay in their homes or yards, except to obtain food and medicine, attend medical appointments and to check on elders and vulnerable individuals. This order was imposed on March 25th, 2020. The third step was Medical Martial Law which included the first two steps as well as closing all access to the reservation from the outside. Exceptions were allowed for delivery of food and supplies to the reservation and essential employees who had to come to work as well as tribal members needing to leave the reservation to obtain essential supplies and seek medical attention. Medical Martial Law was imposed on April 3rd, 2020, and the reservation was effectively sealed off to the outside. Blockades were established at all entry points with border security guards stationed 24/7.
To my knowledge, Red Lake was the only government in the United States to impose Medical Martial Law to protect its citizens from the COVID-19 virus. We did it to keep the virus away for as long as possible. The State of Minnesota supported us, and MN DOT even provided assistance with road barricades.
Restrictions were eased in October 2020 including lifting Border Security but requirements for mask wearing, social distancing, hand washing, limits on meetings and social gatherings remain in effect. We closed tribal programs and allowed safety leave to continue their payroll. Essential programs continued operations. The essential programs are:
• Red Lake Public Safety Department
• Red Lake Fire Department
• Red Lake Courts
• Elderly Maintenance
• Elderly Nutrition Program
• Red Lake Roads Department
• Children's Healing Center/FCS
• Red Lake Inc. and the Red Lake Trading Post
• Transfer Station
• Red Lake Sanitation
• Food Distribution
• Homeless Shelter
• Red Lake Housing programs
• Chemical Health
• I.T. Department
• Human Resources
• All 4 Community Centers
• Minneapolis and Duluth Urban Offices
• Comprehensives Health Services
Red Lake had its first COVID case on the reservation on May 20th, 2020. As May of May 17th, 2021, we have had a total of 517 cases and 10 deaths. Native Americans suffered greater hospitalizations rates and greater death rates from COVID-19 than any other group including positive case levels that are 3.5 times higher than the white population. Red Lake's positive cases, hospitalizations and deaths have been kept very low. We attribute this to several things. Our early 3-step process to protect the reservation including Medical Martial Law. We did nine Executive Orders to date.
Ongoing efforts are continuing with our Emergency Response Team, Red Lake IHS and Red Lake Comprehensive Health Services and all front-line workers.
Establishment of COVID testing sites on the reservation. Shutting down many of our businesses, including our main source revenue, Red Lake Gaming.
Communication with tribal members on the need to mask up, social distance, wash hands and stay home as much as possible. We did a daily update to Red Lake Members and included updates from our Urban offices in Minneapolis and Duluth.
The Red Lake Nation communities followed our safety guidelines imposed and they did their part to keep our communities safe. Our Anishinaabe people are still doing it today... Keep it up!!
The Red Lake Hospital and the Comprehensive Health Services planned ahead for the vaccination distribution, so we were ready when IHS sent our Nation the vaccinations for our people. Vaccination sites were developed, and communities were made aware of the availability and timing for vaccines. The vaccination process has gone well. Tiers for vaccinations were set up starting with our elders, vulnerable individuals, our Ojibwe language speakers and front-line staff were first on the list. Then on February 4th, 2021, it was opened up to all residents, 18 and over. On April 12th, 2021, the vaccines were made available for the 16 and 17-year-olds.
Despite severe financial impacts and disruptions caused by COVID-19, the Red Lake Nation has done a good job in our communities to reduce the impacts of the pandemic. But we also know we have a long way to go yet.
We plan to keep up our efforts to combat COVID along with our federal and state partners.
Our businesses and communities have been devastated by this COVID-19 virus, but we are recovering slowly since we are gradually open up our businesses and vital programs that were shutdown.
During the COVID-19 virus, we partially shut-down except Gaming and some enterprises were totally shutdown. The Tribal Council did not shutdown, we continued to open up during the pandemic. We continued to process operations regardless. We were operating at 50%. We did not fully shut down.
We as a Council stayed vigilant to ensure the safety of our Nation and continued to work 24/7 along with other essential programs. Employees of the Tribal Programs that were shut down received safety leave and continued to receive their pay.
Along with the COVID-19 virus, the drug epidemic during that time escalated and the number of overdoses increased. We established a committee, called Community Overdose Respond Team (CORT) to help address the problem.
We completed the 105(C) Agreement with our Obaashiing Treatment Center which means that our facility is now licensed. The Red Lake Nation invested in the establishment of a new 32-bed chemical dependency and mental health in-patient treatment facility. The facility will house 16 men and 16 women to address the devastating effects caused by the abuse of alcohol and drugs. It is designed to address the substance abuse and associated mental health issues in our community.
The services will address the opioid crisis on the Red Lake Nation through the development and expansion of behavioral health integration, expanding community education and awareness of prevention activities for Opioid & Stimulant Use Treatment and Recovery Services. The Tribe's focus is to increase knowledge and use of culturally appropriate interventions to improve individual wellness and a safe recovery.
The county, state and federal partners are critical lifelines for the success of this facility, especially as the Red Lake Nation faces the worst opioid overdose epidemic in history.
Red Lake Dialysis Center update:
Construction for the Red Lake Dialysis Center will start on Monday, June 1st, 2021. It will be connected to the Red Lake Hospital and will have 12 units. The Center is scheduled for completion next June 2022.
The Solar project is continuing. Infrastructure will be worked on, water line replacement, shovel ready projects, FCS building received funding and is ready for construction this year. Ponemah Market is still on the agenda for funding. Ponemah Powwow arena is waiting on funding. Ponemah Ambulance and Fitness Center is currently in construction. Child Care in Ponemah is on the list for funding. Oshkii has projects pending as well as other additions of buildings for tribal programs. All depend on Rescue Recovery funding and USDA loans.
Also in the works is a Charter School which has been approved by the State. Drawings and site still on-going.
The Equay Wiigamig Women's Shelter has been Red Lake's lead on bringing awareness to the Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women's plight.
The Red Lake Infrastructure Committee came up with 17 project priorities, replacing village streets and including replacement of water and sewer and roads, totaling close to 52 million priority needs for updated infrastructure on the reservation.
I.T. Department: The Red Lake I.T. Department weathered many challenges in 2020 as the result of COVID-19. One of the biggest challenges was supporting the growing number of work-from-home staff across many of our departments and providing them with access to onsite resources. Additionally, the Highway 1 construction resulted in a massive transformation of our fiber network. For the first time in the history of the department, we were able to bury and splice our own fiber saving the Tribe thousands of dollars. Additionally, the department was the recipient of a FEMA grant totaling nearly $700,000, which will be used for further securing the network and providing physical security for primary buildings. We are looking forward to a productive 2021.
Red Lake Solar Project update:
Government Center: The solar power PV System on the roof has been operating continuously for almost two and half years, and it provides about 25% of the annual electric use in the building. Two annual payments were made to the people who provided the small loans to build the system and we have three more annual payments to go. A battery is being donated by the University of Minnesota to provide backup power for the I.T. Department so that the computers will be safe from power outages.
Oskiimaajitahdah: The Solar Bear crew is at work this week finishing the installation of the solar PV system on the roof of the main building. The system is expected to be completed and operating by the end of June.
Ponemah School: We are in the process of negotiating a contract for the solar power system and will begin fundraising when that agreement has been reached with the school district. It is anticipated this project will begin this Fall.
Energy Vision Advisory Committee: The first meeting of this energy planning group was held in mid-May, to begin the process of outlining the pathway to greater energy sovereignty for the Red Lake Nation. The firm Baker Tilly, based in Wisconsin, won a federal grant to work on behalf of Red Lake to lead a study to help prepare the committee for their work on energy planning.
Native Sun has been formed by Tribal Member Bob Blake and others to help secure Department of Energy funding for more energy projects, which will include solar on the schools and many other public buildings in the community. The agenda of Native Sun has trainings in different aspects of energy, such as electric vehicles and energy efficiency. These areas will see a lot of local job creation.
Beltrami Electric Cooperative has agreed to work with Red Lake to do some joint energy planning. This professional relationship to allow Red Lake to take some leadership in helping surrounding communities to move away from using fossil fuels to meet their energy needs.
Buffalo Farm: In 2019, Red Lake received 7 buffalo from Wind Cave National Park. In 2020, a fence was installed around an 80-acre pasture for the herd of 1 bull, 5 cows and 1 calf. The calf ran away for a couple months, and it returned back to the pasture on its own, earning his name "Renegade". In the past week, three additional calves were born, making it a total of 10 buffalo on our farm. This summer, staff will fence in 200 more acres and will be picking up 10 more buffalo. We are looking forward to the first harvest. The schools and the public are welcome to visit the buffalo farm.
Hemp update: In 2019, Economic Development began exploring hemp production. A feasibility study was done, and we focused on food products, one for wild rice help bars and hemp cakes for the buffalo as well as help-based oil absorbent for any future oil spills. Due to COVID, research was slowed down and more research into other areas as well as a business draft was developed. In 2021, the Economic Development Program will be planting up to 140 acres of Industrial Hemp. They will have their first product available for the buffalo in the fall. They are also looking into creating hempcrete from the stalk of the plant for housing options.
Red Lake Cannabis Program: We are currently in the process of building our medical cannabis production facility for the Red Lake Medical Cannabis Program. This top-of-the-line facility will use state of the art growing technology that will deliver high quality cannabis. Our program will provide Red Lake Tribal member patients with the highest quality product at an affordable rate. We anticipate having product available at the beginning of 2022. Program information and how to sign up will be available later this year.