Secretary-Treasurer's Midterm Update


All, I hope this midterm update finds you well. The four-year term of office granted me by membership in April of 2018 is past the midway point, and last two years will be wrapping up soon. I again thank the people for the opportunity to serve in the dual capacity of Secretary-Treasurer and Speaker of the Assembly of the Mille Lacs Band.

Allow me to note accomplishments concerning the duties of the Speaker of the Assembly. Last month the Band Assembly — consisting of Marvin Bruneau, Sandra Blake, and Wally St John — passed a Legislative Order defining procedures of Band Assembly Sessions that included a start date of June 1, 2021, for the live-streaming of sessions of Band Assembly.

This order carries the force of law within the Legislative Branch and starts a new era of accountability in tribal government. This decision weighed a political climate where at times the actions of tribal governments can be unduly scrutinized and a right of membership’s need to know. Please join me in commending this Assembly in taking this correct and bold step.

Additionally, contracts were also ratified authorizing retrofitting the Band Assembly Chambers with state-of-the-art technology to more efficiently record the acts and deeds of the Assembly electronically, making sessions available for online retrieval by constituents.

Additional Legislative Orders were passed creating permanent positions to provide future leadership with knowledgeable staff, institutionalize the lawmaking process, and make public notice of all pending legislation the standard.

There is currently draft legislation for the creation of a Revisor of Statutes Office that will be responsible for the care and periodic publication of the laws of the Mille Lacs Band.

A framework for transparency currently exists in draft legislation named The Data Practices Act sponsored by District III Representative Wally St John that was distributed at the State of Band in January 2019. Please contact your District Reps and support this legislation.

Per the duties entrusted as Secretary-Treasurer, a first-ever independent evaluation of the Band’s non-gaming financial entities is currently underway. This Band Assembly ratified a contract that is a result of a nationwide request for proposal process to find the proper level of expertise in finance and experience of assisting tribal governments with best practices of managing financial wealth.

A report will be provided concerning the Merrill Lynch investment portfolio, Morgan Stanley Minor Trust Account portfolio, Woodlands Bank, and St Paul Trust Foundation.

The financial assets belong to the People of the Mille Lacs Band and our descendants. Great care must be taken to ensure long-term financial security.

The accomplishments to date and planned projects are the result of collaboration and the hard work of all staff who work within the Legislative Branch and are the characteristics of a work in progress that is moving towards being more responsible and representative.

In addition to the elected officials, please recognize current legislative staff Darcie Big Bear, Valerie Harrington, Brianna Boyd, Adam Candler, Hannah Valento, Semira Kimpson, Deanna Sam, and Kiana Morrison.

These individuals are the core of the Legislative Branch, provide support for the members of Band Assembly, and are the caretakers of the lawmaking process.

This report would not be complete without mentioning Commissioner of Finance Mel Towle and the OMB staff. The duties of the Secretary-Treasurer are carried out every day by this group of people, and Band government is provided financial integrity by these long-time employees.

Mel is the first Mille Lacs Band member overseeing our tribal finances in over 15 years and provides comment and financial perspective to Band Assembly uniquely based from a Band member perspective.

The historic dollar figures, the names of Band members, employees, and the ebb and flow of over 25 years of financial expansion have been witnessed by the staff within the Office of Management and Budget. I take this moment to really, really thank them all.

This four-year term so far has been life changing and humbling to have been entrusted with these huge responsibilities. I will focus on these and other achievable goals and seek to have a product for membership at the end of my term as Secretary-Treasurer.

Miigwech, stay safe.