Beltrami County and Red Lake Nation Earn National Achievement Award for Red Lake Initiative
May 24, 2022
BELTRAMI COUNTY, MN – Beltrami County and Red Lake Nation have been recognized with an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo). The award honors innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents.
Beltrami County Administrator Tom Barry remarked "This is a profound accomplishment that all in our community can celebrate. A truly innovative approach achieved by the tireless efforts of many of our community leaders, the Red Lake Nation Initiative is a testament of the power of synergistic government. It is an achievement of monumental proportions that affirms that when officials at the Federal, State, Tribal and local levels of government put the interests of those they serve first, incredible things can happen."
NACo recognized the multi-jurisdictional solution as an innovative and collaborative answer to addressing tribal child welfare and social service needs. For decades public officials from State, Tribal, Federal, and Local Governments disagreed about who was responsible for the welfare services in The Red Lake Nation, a sovereign tribal government in Northern Minnesota. In 2015, several leaders from all mentioned governments looked towards a new way of thinking that tailored and improved services to The Red Lake Nation. Innovations focused on establishing a comprehensive understanding of what tribal needs were, evaluating how cultural services could be expanded, addressing how to honor and respect tribal sovereignty, and elevating access to services to tribal members. This changed thinking led to the Red Lake Tribal Initiative, now named Ombimindwaa Gidinawemaaganinaadog, or Uplifting our Relatives. "The new program model serves The Red Lake Nation's cultural needs and holds sovereignty in the highest regard. It is a proud moment for all partners involved" remarked Beltrami County Health and Human Services Director Becky Secore.
"Our Anishinaabeg practice model has a focus on relationships. This was a key component in the partnership we developed with the County in becoming an American Indian Child Welfare Initiative Tribe. The successful transition of cases from the County to Red Lake highlights what can be accomplished when we work collectively towards a common goal. Being able to exercise tribal sovereignty in child welfare was very important for The Red Lake Nation and we appreciate the support the County provides" said Cheri Goodwin, Executive Director of Ombimindwaa Gidinawemaaganinaadog for The Red Lake Nation.
The Red Lake Initiative took effect on Jan. 1, 2021 and has resulted in impressive social and cultural enhancements to the Red Lake Nation. Improved access for tribal members, inclusion of cultural elements and healing facilities, and an expansion of social services are among some of the improvements. On May 10th, a groundbreaking was held to kick-off construction of an expanded cultural and social services facility on the Reservation made possible, in part, by the Red Lake Initiative.
NACo President Larry Johnson said, "All across the country, counties are working tirelessly to support residents and drive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This year's Achievement Award-winning programs showcase how counties work every day to build healthy, safe and thriving communities."
Nationally, awards are given in 18 different categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services counties provide. The categories include children and youth, criminal justice and public safety, county administration, information technology, health, civic engagement and many more.
The National Association of Counties (NACo) unites America's 3,069 county governments. NACo's Annual Achievement Awards Program, which first began in 1970, is designed to recognize county government innovations. Each nominee is judged on its own merits and not against other applications received.