Chief Executive

About Melanie Benjamin

As Chief Executive of the Non-Removable Mille Lacs Band of OJibwe, Melanie Benjamin leads the Executive Branch of tribal government, which implements Band laws and programs. As Chief Executive, Benjamin is statutorily responsible for conducting external relations on behalf of the Band with all other governments and political subdivisions. Benjamin was first elected Chief Executive in 2000, and was re-elected in 2004, 2008 and 2012.

Benjamin first gained experience in tribal government in 1989 when she was recruited by the late Arthur Gahbow to serve as his chief of staff in the position of Commissioner of Administration, a role which she held between 1989 and 1997, and which is the top appointed position in Band government. After Art’s passing, Benjamin continued in this post throughout 1997 under the late Marge Anderson. Benjamin has also served as Senior Vice President of Administration and Finance at Grand Casino Hinckley, and as Interim Director of the Pine Grove Leadership Academy. Benjamin has been active on many boards and organizations throughout the state and nation and currently serves as Secretary for the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. She is a Board Member of the American Indian Law Resource Center, the Minnesota Board on Aging, Women Empowering Women for Indian Nations, the U.S. Attorney General’s Tribal Nations Leadership Council, the National Indian Gaming Association (Alternate).

Benjamin earned an M.A. in Education from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and a B.A. in Finance from Bemidji State University. The daughter of Frances Reynolds and George Staples, Benjamin is the mother of Clayton (Candace) Benjamin and the proud grandmother of four beautiful grandchildren.