Dear Band Members,
Boozhoo! As I write this column, we are in the midst of a very bitter cold snap with temperatures well below zero. Many of us remember hearing our parents or grandparents tell us special stories as children that could only be told in the winter months, and visiting with family and friends. In that tradition, I hope Band members have been spending quality time with good food, good company, wonderful stories, and lots of laughter.
December is usually a very slow month in tribal government, but quite the opposite was true this year. In early December, I attended a meeting of the National Indian Gaming Association in Washington D.C. where we discussed and planned strategies for addressing internet gaming; pending legislation called the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act, introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), which protects tribal
sovereignty from outside threats; and I also spent an additional three days on Capitol Hill meeting with congressional offices about the opioid crisis we are facing. We also met with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Indian Country Unit to discuss federal law enforcement.
I also attended board meetings of the Native American Finance Officers Association and Women Empowering Women for Indian Nations (WEWIN), a Tribal Executive Committee (TEC) meeting of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe (MCT), and held many meetings with Band members, commissioners, and staff. This included a strategy meeting on December 27 with a physician from the University of Minnesota who specializes in addiction treatment. This meeting involved every department head from our Health and Human Services Department. Commissioner St. Germaine and our HHS staff are working tirelessly on a coordinated response to prevention and treatment, and there is a great deal happening on that front which Band Members will hear more about at the State of the Band Address on Tuesday, January 9.
There are of course a number of other developments on current issues, challenges, and opportunities we are facing as a Band which will also be discussed at the State of the Band Address, which is a time we spend reflecting on the year we’ve just finished as well as looking ahead to what 2018 may bring for us as a community. I strongly encourage all Band members and their families to attend this event. As a bonus, it always involves a wonderful meal shared together as well! I wish all Band families a safe and happy New Year, and look forward to seeing you on January 9. Miigwech!