Following five terms in office, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin has announced she will not seek re-election in 2024.
First elected in 2000, Benjamin is one of the longest-serving Chief Executives in the Band's history. Benjamin has also achieved national prominence in her work promoting Native women in leadership.
Benjamin says she will pass the torch to a new generation of leaders as she leaves a legacy she is proud of, which includes tribal economic success, tribal sovereignty restoration, homelands protection, and language preservation.
According to a press release, one of the central themes of Benjamin's administration has been her battle to protect the band's homelands and tribal sovereignty at the local, state, and federal level. She has aggressively fought to protect the existence of the Band's reservation, defeating claims by Mille Lacs County that it was disestablished over 100 years ago.
A general election for the Chief Executive role will be held on Jun. 11, and the new Chief will take office on Jul. 8. Lakeland News will have a closer look at Benjamin's time and accomplishments as Chief Executive next week.