News Roundup, January 31-February 6


Executive Order allows restored services to Band members

Due to positive changes the Mille Lacs Band has made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin signed Executive Order 2021-01 on February 4, which will begin the process of restoring regular hours, staffing levels, and access to tribal government buildings and services. The new order replaces the stay-at-home order issued last year with a stay-at-home recommendation and authorizes the Commissioners to begin gradually expanding operations and services as long as they have implemented COVID-19 Health and Safety Procedures that Commissioner of Health and Human Services Nicole Anderson has approved. Commissioner Anderson may still require and enforce additional safety procedures for any department. For the complete order, see executive-order-2021-01.

Housing Department updates drug policy

The Housing Department updated their existing Drug Policy to fortify and expand the Housing Department’s position against illegal drugs. It is the hope of the Housing Department that this revised Drug Policy will increase the health, safety and welfare of the Band and contribute towards the long-term goal of a drug-free Reservation in all three districts. Although the previous drug policy was technically a zero tolerance drug policy, there were two areas that needed to be addressed: (1) the “use” of illegal drugs, and (2) clarification that illegal drug activity occurring both on or off Band owned rental properties would result in immediate eviction. The revised drug policy, applicable to all Housing Department rental units, now prohibits the “use” of illegal drugs in addition to possession, distribution, and manufacturing of illegal drugs. Therefore, if a tenant or invitee overdoses in their rental unit, the Housing Department could terminate that tenant’s lease and evict all people living in that unit. The revised drug policy also expanded its scope allowing the Housing Department to evict a tenant if the tenant engaged in illegal drug activity in their rental unit OR anywhere off the property.

Free cement mason orientation and training

The Cement Masons, Plasterers & Shophands Local 633 Journeyman & Apprentice Training Trust Fund is offering a free 11-week cement masons trade orientation training in conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The goal of this program is to train Native Americans from several tribal nations in the cement mason trade enabling them to qualify for apprenticeship with the Union and work on MnDOT projects. For more information, see the flyer below or contact Lori Trail, Tribal Employment Rights Director at 320-532-4778, 320-630-2617, or

Tax help available for Band members

Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures is excited to share that our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program now has a self-assistance site, also known as FSA Remote. FSA Remote is a program that empowers taxpayers to prepare their own return and e-file for FREE! There are no income restrictions or scope restrictions that the standard AARP or VITA sites typically have. Email to request our unique URL link. We will reply to your email with a Word document that includes your link plus other important tax resource information and links for you. Upon receiving the link, you’ll need to set up a UserID and password. Once your UserID is complete, you will be directed to the Taxslayer website and have access to complete AND e-file your tax return FOR FREE. We do not and will not be able to see any of your personal tax information. It is YOUR account and YOUR return. Remember, you will receive a helpful Word document when we respond to you with the tax software link, which will also provide links to other valuable tax resources. If you still have in-scope tax questions after using the tools and provided resources, you can email our team at: We will respond within 2 business days.

Elder food distribution postponed due to cold weather

The food distribution for Elders that was originally scheduled for February 10 and 11 has been postponed until February 16 and 17 due to dangerously cold temperatures and windchills. See flyer below for new times and locations.


District I Representative provides baby baskets to new arrivals

Representative Virgil Wind has come up with a way to shed some light during the dark days of the pandemic.

Legislative Weekly Update, January 25-29

After a pre-Band Assembly meeting on Tuesday, January 26, to discuss the agenda, Band Assembly occurred through conference call and Zoom on Wednesday, January 27. Band Assembly approved three bills, two resolutions, eight contracts, three foster care licenses, and a hardship request. A work session was held on Thursday, January 28. For details, see


Monday, February 1, 2021 — Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides a COVID-19 update for Band members. In addition, this message contains information on Band members who have been hired in director/management positions at Grand Casinos. There is also a brief update from the MCT/TEC meeting held last week along with notes on safety training available through HHS and a reminder of the upcoming Elder food distribution. One quick reminder to Band member employees who wish to participate in the BINGO with the Band at Grand Casino Hinckley this week, you must request leave through your supervisor and use annual time if the event is during working hours.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021 — Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides Band members with a COVID-19 update as well as an information about the Housing Department's new policy. TERC members met this morning via zoom for brief updates regarding vaccination rollout and discussed a phased re-opening of HHS facilities and schools. Vaccinations are being distributed according to the guidelines as HHS receives the vaccine. Any Mille Lacs Band Elders wanting the COVID-19 vaccine please call 320-532-4163 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to be put on a list to be contacted.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021 — Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides Band members with a COVID-19 update. In addition, she provides a brief update from the Band Assembly meeting earlier today and informs Band members of a free cement mason training. February is American Heart Month! Wear Red on Friday and snap a selfie. Send your selfie to and she will post it on Facebook for you.


Current job openings with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe tribal government can be found at Among the new postings: Human Resources Training & Development Specialist, District III Early Ed Coordinator, Early Ed Maintenance Worker, HHS Client Access Specialist.

You can request information about jobs by emailing or calling 320-532-7460. To apply for a job, please submit an application, cover letter, and resume to the HR email by the closing date.

For openings at Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Hinckley properties or Eddy’s Resort, visit: For openings with Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures, visit For openings at Grindstone Laundry or Crossroads Convenience Store, email or call 320-384-4722. Applications are also available at the main receptionist desk of the Corporate Commission building at 700 Grand Avenue, adjacent to the Grand Casino Mille Lacs Events and Convention Center.


New video raises awareness of need for language revitalization

A powerful new video produced by the Band's Aanjibimaadizing Language Revitalization Project shows that the Anishinaabe language is "on life support" and the immediate need for language preservation.

Freedom from smoking course offered to Aanjibimaadizing clients

Aanjibimaadizing is offering the American Lung Association’s Freedom From Smoking® program to Aanjibimaadizing clients via Zoom starting Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 10 a.m. There will be 8 sessions over 7 weeks. Participation is required for all sessions, and class size is limited. To register, contact Catherine at 612-547-6560 or For more information, see

New recovery group meets on Thursday evenings

A new Wellbriety group is meeting on Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. on Zoom. Contact: Roberta Dunkley at 320-674-4165 or Meeting ID: 966 0395 9591. Passcode: 944772. Connect – Support – Learn – Heal.


The February issue of Ojibwe Inaajimowin was sent to Band members on Wednesday, January 28, and can also be found at

You can also find stories from the newsletter at, including:

Happy to give — Band employee Roberta Dunkley makes masks for all who need them
MnDOT installs new signs on reservation boundaries
Jenna Kuduk — A smiling voice on the triage line

News from Indian Country

You can also find links to stories from around Indian Country at Among this week's headlines:

Minnesota filmmaker's first feature film competes at Sundance
Tribal member on a mission to keep native burial customs alive
Many are unaware why tribal casinos are not subject to state COVID-19 restrictions


Next Elder food distribution is February 16 and 17


SUD Department offers grief support
A Community Grief Support Group meets Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m. via Zoom. Meeting ID: 950 0668 4301. Passcode: Support! Contact Allison at 320-630-9243 or

Recovery group meetings
Recovery meetings are held via Zoom conference during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Monday night Migizi meeting ID is 856 8473 0121, and the password is 56359. The Wednesday night Red Brick meeting ID is 895 631 97923, and the password is 56359. The Thursday Wellbriety meeting ID is 966 0395 9591, and the passcode is 944772. The nightly Zooming Towards Recovery code is 601-532-2869, and the password is zoom800.

Mark your calendar
February 15, Chiefs Day, government offices closed.


Did you know there is a website calendar with flyers and information on events in our communities? If you have events to share, send an email to or call 320-237-6851. You can find the calendar at For a wealth of news and information about the Band, tribal government, programs, and services, go to and start clicking! Click the Government or Services menu for information on departments and government programs. You can also access the site from your phone's web browser.


The Mille Lacs Band Tribal Police Department’s anonymous drug tip line is 320-630-2458. Feel free to leave voicemails and/or text messages. If you would like a call back, be sure to leave your name and phone number. In case of emergency, dial 911.


The Government Affairs Department, which is in charge of communications with Band members, is compiling a list of email addresses so we can send news summaries and breaking news updates to Band members. To sign up, go to