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

Red Lake Inauguration Held at Seven Clans

Five New Council People Sworn In


August 11, 2022

The New Red Lake Tribal Council Front row: Tribal Officers left to right; Tribal Treasurer Vernelle R. Lussier, Red Lake Chairman Darrell G. Seki, Sr., and Red Lake Secretary Samuel R. Strong. Back row: Tribal Council Representatives; Harold L. Graves, Jr., Redby; Allen Pemberton, Redby; Robert "Bob" Smith, Red Lake; Robert L. May, Red Lake, Glenda Martin, Ponemah; Eugene Standingcloud, Ponemah; Michelle Barrett Cobenais, Little Rock; and Harlow S. Spears, Little Rock.

At 9:00 a.m., Tuesday, August 9, 2022, 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 in mid-June, members witnessed the swearing in of re-elected Secretary Samuel R. Strong and newly elected Tribal Treasurer Vernelle L. Lussier. Each had won their respective seats in the first-round election back in May, receiving more than 50% of the ballots cast and winning the election outright.

Today Hereditary Chief James Loud would swear-in most of the winners of the run-off election held July 20, 2022.

Scores 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 Red Lake Color guard. Among the crowd were several honored guests (candidates and office holders) representing State, County, and Bemidji City governments. Curiously, 80% were Indigenous or of Indigenous descent.

They included candidates for State Senate District 2 Alan Roy (White Earth Nation), State Rep, 2A Reed Olson, (Bemidji) State Rep 2B, Erika Bailey-Johnson (Red Lake Nation/Bemidji), Beltrami County Commissioner Tim Sumner (Red Lake Nation) Bemidji Mayor Jorge Prince (Totorame descent, Sinaloa, Mexico) and Bemidji City Councilor Audrey Thayer (White Earth Nation)

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 the celebrated Drum Eyabay for a song as members of Red Lake Veterans Post 6889 marched in in dance-step, colors flying, later to post them and Eagle Staff on stage.

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 Samuel Strong, 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 same venue after the swearing-in and dinner.

Hereditary Chief Dan King swore in of newly elected Red Lake District Representative Robert L. May. Chief Loud swore in newly elected Redby District Representative Harold L. Graves, Jr. and newly elected Ponemah District Representative Eugene Standingcloud. Newly Elected Little Rock Representative Harlow S. Spears was sworn in by Little Rock Representative Michelle Barrett Cobenais, and Re-elected Chairman Darrell G. Seki, Sr. was sworn in by Chief Loud.

Re-elected Red Lake Tribal Treasurer Samuel R. Strong and Newly Elected Tribal Treasurer Vernelle R. Lussier were acknowledged for their earlier election wins. Tribal Council members leaving the council were recognized and given blankets as a symbol of appreciation for their service. They included Adrian Beaulieu of Little Rock, Donald Good of Red Lake, Julius Thunder of Redby, and Gary Nelson of Ponemah.

Former members, new members all gave short thank you speeches. Officers, Lussier, Strong and Seki also gave short speeches.

Secretary Strong, who often works with and is concerned about youth, hopes to bring their voice to the table. "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. We can use these strengths to solve these challenges."

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.

Re-elected Chairman Darrell G. Seki, Sr. was sworn in by Chief Loud.

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, and the pandemic. "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.

Closing his speech, Seki "Most importantly remember why we are elected and work together to move forward," he said. "The healing starts now."

Oaths of Office taken, speeches completed, It was time to eat. Friends chatted while feasting on. Brunch to follow, baked potato, wild rice, corn, prime rib.

The Council reconvened about 12 pm.

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