By Secretary-Treasurer Sheldon Boyd
Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the 2019 State of the Band Address.
For the newcomers and first time attendees:
What is going on here this morning, and what exactly are we doing? Allow me please to help bring into perspective what this is.
This morning Madame Chief Justice of the Judicial Branch and Madame Chief Executive of the Executive Branch will be complying with Mille Lacs Band law by presenting their reports on the second Tuesday of the calendar year to the Mille Lacs Band Assembly of the Legislative Branch of government. This is similar to the State of the Union Address in United States government.
Please allow me to introduce the members of the Legislative Branch Band Assembly, the Commissioner of Finance, Legislative Staff, and members of the Office of Management and Budget who are in attendance: District I Representative the Honorable Sandi Blake, District II Representative the Honorable Marvin Bruneau, and District III Representative Wally St. John, Parliamentarian and Band Assembly Clerk Darcie Big Bear, Commissioner of Finance the Honorable Adam Valdez, Legislative Affairs Director Wendy Merrill, Chief Legal Counsel Christine Jordan, Chief Communications Officer Valerie Harrington, Legislative Office Coordinator Semira Kimpson, Deputy Registrar Deanna Sam, Legislative Administrative Assistant Brianna Boyd, Billie Jo Boyd, Cheryl Miller, and all staff in attendance from the Office of Management and Budget.
First I want to take a moment to recognize a ground level fact. Let’s not stick our chests out too far or our chins too high.
The wealth of the Mille Lacs Band is the direct result of the two economic jet engines called Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Grand Casino Hinckley and the wonderful customers who for the last 20 years nonstop, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, have come through these doors and spent their hard-earned money.
The bottom line is the money comes from this side of the street.
Ok, now as popularly elected Secretary-Treasurer and Speaker of the Assembly, I will shortly call to order the 3rd Session of the 18th Band Assembly. This Legislature is in its 36th year. Think about that for a moment.
But how did things get to this point and what is the history? Let me give you some background in today’s proceeding, then provide you a bridge to the present.
The Mille Lacs Band is part of a huge linguistic group from across the interior of this continent and the chain of Great Lakes, the Anishinaabe. Tribes today along the Great Lakes chain are a living tree of the Anishinaabe People with Mille Lacs as one of the farthest-reaching branches.
There are immense layers of history within the Anishinaabe people as a group. Let me provide some perspective, collective terms for those in attendance today.
Since before the pyramids of Egypt, in written memory when humankind developed farming and writing systems, the ancestors of the Anishinaabe were here on these very waterways and forests of these lands.
The Anishinaabe People continue to live in historic villages among the forests and waterways from this location and back east, back through time moving from place to place.
We wear many cloaks that time and history have provided us. The New World, Treaty Tribes, IRA Tribe or Indian Reorganization Act, Self-Governance Tribe, and now Indian Gaming Tribe.
We also go by many names: Anishinaabe, Ojibwe, Chippewa, Non-Removable Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa Indians, Reservation Business Committee, Mille Lacs Band Government, Chairman, Chief Executive, Chief Justice.
Assembling and reassembling in response to events, natural and created, to survive and eventually thrive again.
That brings us to today.
Bridge in Time
This morning the current elected and appointed leaders of our government perform their duties mandated under Mille Lacs Band Law.
These State of the Judiciary and State of the Band reports demonstrate our leaders are being called to be accountable to the Band Assembly under Mille Lacs Band law.
The Band Assembly of the Legislative Branch is similar in function to the United States Congress and is comprised of the popularly elected leaders of their respective communities.
These are functions of this three-branch government. A division of power. A conscious recognition of power that is a constant tug of war. We cannot have power unchecked.
The Mille Lacs Band and native peoples know firsthand the brute force of power in the physical form and government policy.
In spite of an era of termination where we were scattered across the lands and sent to other places to live to make room for civilization, some our Mille Lacs grandparents simply refused to leave this place. They continued to live right here, raise families, in survival mode.
As a young boy I always remember my Mother saying after returning from a ceremony, "Don’t tell them at school about this. They will throw us in jail."
My Mother, who only spoke the Anishinaabe language to her friends in the woods because the boarding school forbid it.
My Mother and Father, only speaking Anishinaabe to each other and their friends. I now look back and believe they were forevermore those children in boarding school who were forced to hide part of themselves.
In spite of these atrocities, be warned: We cannot be a revenge generation or we will go backwards.
Not being a first speaker of the language may be on your parents, but not being a speaker as an adult is on you. You can learn.
Our history is too great for anything less than for all of us to live in kindness and enjoy life.
Brother and sister Native nations all around us throughout history have adapted as well.
Over 100 years ago there were Native schools, Native newspapers, and the achievement of alphabets and symbols, in particular the Cherokee language, which today is an option on Apple iPhones.
Now, today, the Mille Lacs Band in particular:
From a time of signing agreements over jurisdiction of thousands of square miles of the interior of this continent, to a time when barely five acres of land was left and friends came to our rescue, our grandparents began to reassemble.
Reassembling for survival and continuing the journey again to live and enjoy life.
The Mille Lacs Band made a leap 36 years ago and divided the powers of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Constitution. This constitution was authorized by the United States Congress under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.
As a side note, my Uncle James Clark mentioned as a young boy, because he went to school, he translated the purpose of that Act to the Elders in the Aazhoomog community east of Hinckley.
The Mille Lacs Band today is an example of the division of power and authority.
Many Native nations today mention the Mille Lacs Band as an example of progress, and courage, and a form of government meant to decentralize power and guard against the tendencies of people when political power is bestowed upon them.
This morning we come together to talk about things every year in the middle of winter, to listen to the experiences of our leaders and plans for the coming year.
This what you are seeing this morning: The State of the Band Address.
I call to Order the 3rd Session of the 18th Band Assembly on Tuesday January 8, 2019.