COVID-19 Information

Chief Executive's video update

Today, Thursday, July 2, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin is joined by Syngen Kanassatega, Legal and Policy Counsel for the Mille Lacs Band Office of the Chief Executive for a discussion on some legal issues. Chief Executive Benjamin also provides COVID-19 and other updates.

Click here for the video.

Update for Band members and employees: Today, July 1, 2020, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin is joined by Commissioner of Administration Baabiitaw Boyd and Assistant Commissioner of Administration Peter Nayquonabe. They are sharing important messages for Band members and employees regarding the CARES Act, a plan to phase employees back to work, and COVID-19 updates. There is a lot of information, so if you have any questions, please let us know. Miigwech.

Click here for the video.

On Friday, June 26, 2020, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin shares COVID statistics, casino updates, promotions and more for Band members.

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Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides a COVID-19 update for Band members on June 25, 2020. The new Health and Human Services building is open for appointments! Please call 320-532-4163 to make an appointment.

Click here for the video.

HHS Department Shares Guidlines for Slowing the Spread of COVID-19

As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the Mille Lacs Reservation and nearby communities, it is important to remember we are each responsible for our own health and self-care. Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Health and Human Services is here to support the community in many ways, and the best advice we can offer is for each individual to do their part to protect themselves and their loved ones. It is up to you to slow the spread of COVID-19.

We understand it may look like the greatest threat is over as businesses and activities across the state and on our own Reservation begin to re-open. However, the Minnesota Department of Health is predicting that the peak of COVID-19 has not yet hit Minnesota. MLBO HHS and Public Health recommend following the guidelines set forth by the CDC and MDH. It is safest to assume everyone you meet is positive for COVID-19.

HHS is committed to offer support to families and households affected by COVID-19. When an individual has tested positive for the illness, the following steps are implemented:

— The household is recommended to quarantine
— Quarantine packs are delivered
— Contact tracing begins by members of MLBO Public Health
— Each individual meeting the requirements of exposure are notified
— Support is provided by HHS/PH to meet the needs of the quarantined household and individuals

Please continue to follow the guidelines:

Distancing

—Stay home as much as possible.
—Stay at least 6 feet from other people if you are in public places.
—Telework if you can.
—Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
—If you are 65 and older or have certain underlying medical conditions, stay at home and avoid situations where you could be exposed, including travel.

Hands and face

—Wash your hands often, with soap and water. Wash for at least 20 seconds.
—Always wash your hands after being in a public place.
—Always wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
—If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol.

Face Masks

CDC recommends that you wear a cloth mask over your nose and mouth in grocery stores and all other public places where it is hard to stay 6 feet away from others.

When you wear a cloth mask in public, remember:

—Masks can help to stop your germs from infecting others. This is extra important if people without symptoms can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 disease.
—Wearing a mask does not protect you from others who may spread the virus. You will still need to wash your hands often, cover your cough, and stay 6 feet away from others.
—Wearing a mask does not mean people who are sick should be in public places. Stay home if you are sick.
—If you need to see a doctor, call your clinic first. Do not just go to the clinic. Wear a mask when you do go to the clinic.
—Do not buy or wear surgical or N95 masks. Health care workers need them so that they are protected when helping sick patients.
—Do not put facemasks or face covers on children under age 2.
—Do not put facemasks or face covers on anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, or unable to remove the mask without help.

Important phone numbers

Provider appointments: 320-532-4163 option #2
Nurse Line Clinic: 320-630-0397
Nurse Line (after hours – Jenna Kuduk): 320-630-0855
Mental Health appointments: 320-532-4163 option #2
Mental Health call line: 320-674-4385
Substance Use assessments/counseling: 320-532-7773
Pharmacy: 320-532-4779
Commodities and food shelf: 320-630-2432

Stay home, stay safe, and stay well!

— Mille Lacs Band Health and Human Services

Today, Tuesday, June 16, 2020, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin shares with Band members the news of one new case of COVID-19 on the Reservation in District I. Contact tracing has begun regarding this case. As usual, if you have been in contact with the individual and meet the requirements of exposure, you will be notified by Public Health.

Chief Executive Benjamin said she is thankful to Band members who are stepping up to help other Band members in the community. Chi miigwech!

Click here for the video.

Chief Executive's Video Update

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive provides COVID-19 updates for Band members as of Monday, June 15, 2020. As of today, there are no new confirmed positive cases of COVID on the reservation. Health and Human Services is on the move to the new building where all HHS departments will be under one roof. Please have grace during the transition as phone calls may not be able to be returned immediately. If there are high priority things that you need from HHS during this time, please connect with HHS early in the week so they may focus their efforts on you. And remember to refill your prescriptions early this week.

Starting at noon on Wednesday, the clinic will continue to have provider availability and be seeing patients. This will continue in the same fashion as we have done throughout COVID where the vast majority of visits will be via telehealth. Starting at noon on Wednesday through Friday, due to packing and moving there will not be access to lab or x-ray. The providers will still continue to see patients but will be using MLHS for any lab or x-ray needs. The clinic plans to again be fully operational Monday morning.

Click here for the video.

Chief Executive's Video Update

Today, Friday, June 12 Mille Las Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides a brief COVID-19 update and a reminder that Health and Human Services will be moving into the new building next week. The pharmacy will be open until noon on June 17th and closed on June 18 - June 19. It will be fully operational on June 22. While the pharmacy is closed, providers will send prescriptions to Onamia Drug. Have a nice weekend. Miigwech!

Click here for the video.

Chief Executive's Video Update

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides an update for Band members. Today, Thursday, June 11, she announced a fundraiser to help a Band member family who lost their home to a fire last weekend. Fortunately, no one was home at the time of the fire, but the house was a total loss.The fundraiser will be at the Grand Market on Friday beginning at 11 a.m. Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and brats will be sold to raise money for the family. Miigwech to our WEWIN chapter for helping out!

In the news, Chief Executive Benjamin discussed the COVID-19 statistics and reported on news from the MLBO cabinet meeting held today.

Click here for the video.

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides an update for Band members regarding COVID-19. Even though state-wide restrictions are slowly lifting Chief Executive Benjamin echoed Governor Walz who said, "COVID is still with us, but we've have to live with it." Personal safety protocols are still encouraged, including wearing masks.

But masks don't have to be boring. Chief Executive Benjamin gives a shout out to Band member Adrienne Benjamin who created a mask, entered a nationwide contest and won first place for Judges Choice. Congratulations Adrienne!

Reminder: General election will be August 18. You can request an absentee ballot from deanna.sam@millelacsband.com.

Click here for the video.

Chief Executive's Video Update

Today, Tuesday, June 9, Mille Lacs Band Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin reminds Band members about the elder food distribution for Wednesday in all Districts and Thursday for the Urban Area. Please remember some of the locations have changed. Districts I and IIa will be at Grand Casino Mille Lacs Oversized Parking Lot - North Entrance. DII will be at Minisinaakwaang Community Center. DIII will be at Grand Northern Inn in Hinckley. On Thursday, the food distribution for urban Elders will be at the Urban Office. All distributions are from 1-3 p.m.

A reminder for District III Band members, the Hinckley clean-up continues through the weekend. If you have something to drop off, please do so. Miigwech.

Melanie also notified Band members of job openings in the Health and Human Services Department (millelacsband.com/jobs) and said "miigwech" to Band member Arne Vainio for his article on indianz.com reflecting on the death of George Floyd. You can read Dr. Vainio's article here.

Click here for the Chief Executive's video.

Chief Executive's Video Update

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin discusses COVID-19 statistics reminding Band members that as the state continues to reopen businesses, to continue practicing social distancing, washing hands often and wear a mask. Masks are required at all Mille Lacs Band government buildings including polling places. Some masks will be available, however, Band members are encouraged to bring one along. IDs are required for voting as well as a mask. Check the website for more details on voting.

Chief Executive Benjamin offered heartfelt sympathies to the families who have recently lost loved ones.

Click here for the video.

Safety at the polling place

An important message for Mille Lacs Band members from the Mille Lacs Band Election Board:

The Primary Election is Tuesday, June 9, 2020.

For the health and safety of our community and voters, in conjunction with current COVID-19 practices the Mille Lacs Band Election Board is setting the following procedures for the Primary Election on June 9th, 2020.

• Each Polling Site to open at 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

• Floor space will be marked off to meet 6’ social distancing requirement.

• Voters are encouraged to wear face mask (but will be asked to briefly show identity), hand sanitizer will be available for both entering and leaving polling station.

• Voting stations will be cleaned/wiped down after each use.

• Valid ID (MN DL/ID, Band, or picture ID) is required.

The Mille Lacs Band Election Board continues to encourage Absentee Ballot voting before Primary Election day on June 9th, 2020 at the District 1 Community Center. These procedures are subject to change as state health/MLB regulations related to COVID-19 evolve.

If any questions please call the Main Election office 320-532-7586 or call Deanna Sam, Chair on cell # 320-279-0178

Chief Executive's Daily Video Update

Resilience is not about bouncing back, it is about bounding forward." [Author Unknown]. Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin gave props to Mille Lacs Early Education Director Amy Wyant for paraphrasing that quote in the Friday morning Tribal Emergency Response Committee (TERC) meeting this morning. Chief Executive Benjamin believes the tribal ancestors were resilient and moved the Band to where we are today. As we begin to move forward now, "We will be moving ahead in a positive way.

Today's message also includes a DNR update, reminders to have a current tribal ID, Urban area COVID-19 testing next week and much more. Miigwech.

Click here for the video.

Today's message is about progress. Mille Lacs Band Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin spoke on Thursday, June 4, 2020 giving a special shout out to Band Member Chila Brown, who just recently received her Master's Degree in Education. Chief Executive Benjamin reminded Band members to let her know when they achieve a significant milestone such as higher education so she can recognize others as well. She also provided a brief summary of the Cabinet Meeting held today and reminded Band members that COVID-19 testing will be done in the Urban Area next Tuesday, June 9 at the the All Nations Church. Testing is now complete in Districts I, II, IIA and III. If you missed any of those dates but still would like to be tested, you may do so next Tuesday in the Urban area.

Chief Executive Benjamin encourages Band members to watch the video message featuring Bobby Eagle who speaks about caring for one another in the Anishinaabe way.

And watch to the end for a special heartfelt message for George Floyd. May he rest in peace.

Click here for the video.

'This is the Anishinaabe Way'

Bobby Eagle is a cultural advisor for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Health and Human Services department at Four Winds treatment center, but more importantly, "I am a Mille Lacs Band member and I reside here in Mille Lacs," he said. Bobby and the team at HHS want to remind Band members it is so important to practice kindness during these difficult times. As Bobby Eagle said, "This is the Anishinaabe way." He added, “And remember to be kind because we are all interconnected everything is reciprocal and that the energy we put out into the universe has long lasting affects on ourselves and others, in some cases these effects extend several generations.”

Please enjoy this video with music performed by Bobby Eagle.

Chief Executive's Video Update

Wednesday, June 3, 2020 - Today, Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin helped out at the Urban area Elder Food distribution. She provided a brief update on the casinos reopening reporting over 2,500 guests visited Grand Casino Mille Lacs and over 3,100 guests visited Grand Casino Hinckley on the opening day. She also reported on the Band-wide testing for Districts I, II and IIA and will be in District III on Thursday, June 4. There will be testing available for Urban Area Band members next Tuesday, June 9. As a reminder, testing is safe and if you need a ride, please call 320-630-0916 or 320-674-4086.

Click here for the video.

Potatoes available at District I food shelf

Our food shelf has a ton of extra potatoes that we would like to distribute to the community. We will leave a pallet outside the “commod” building between 1 and 4 p.m. on Wednesday, June 3, and would like people to help themselves to what they need. Please be mindful for others.

COVID-19 Testing Kicks off in District II, Continues in DI Wednesday, DIII Thursday

Health and Human Services Executive Director Jan Manary shared information about free Band-wide testing for COVID-19, which started on Tuesday, June 2, in District II.

Jan informs Band members that the testing centers are following strict safety protocols to keep everyone safe, and that the test only takes a few seconds.

If you can't make the test in your home district, you are welcome to get tested in other districts or the urban area as well.

o District I and IIA – Wednesday, June 3 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the NEW HHS Building parking lot on Timber Trails Drive.
o District III – Thursday, June 4 from 10 a.m. to noon in the Aazhoomog clinic parking lot. The HHS team will travel to Hinckley. Testing will be done at Meshakwad parking lot from 1 to 5 p.m.
o URBAN AREA — Tuesday, June 9. Details to come.

Click here for the video.

About COVID-19

COVID-19 is an infection from a tiny virus called the coronavirus. This virus is spread by tiny droplets. Symptoms that are related to COVID-19 could be but are not limited to: cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle aches, loss of smell or taste, chills, and high temperatures. Diarrhea and vomiting are less common but possible. Most people get better in 1 to 2 weeks without treatment. Those that are older and have other illnesses can become more ill.

If you have symptoms, call 320-532-4163, option 2.

If it is a medical emergency, call 911.

Process of Collection

The collection is done with a swab into the nose. The collection takes about 15 seconds and may be slightly uncomfortable. Once collected, the sample is prepared to be sent to the Mayo laboratory.

What to do after collection

Please continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing (stay 6 feet apart from others), wash your hands, avoid touching your face. Only those with a positive test will be notified by phone.

Results

Test results will be done in 5-7 business days. If the results are negative, you will not be contacted. If the results are positive, you will receive a call from Public Health Nursing; they provide education on signs and symptoms to watch for, and identifying people you have been in contact with. All results are protected by patient privacy laws; access to the results is limited, so please do not call the clinic as the staff will not have access to the Mayo lab community testing results.

Remember: The best way to prevent getting COVID-19 is to practice social distancing, stay out of populated areas, stay 6 feet apart from others, wash your hands, wear a mask, cover your cough, stay hydrated, get exercise, get plenty of rest, and be outside in fresh air.

Chief Executive's video update

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin adds a special Chi Miigwech to Band members at the end of the message today so be sure to watch until the end. In the meantime, she has important updates for Band members regarding the Urban Area food distribution for Wednesday, June 3 along with other updates including an update regarding the MLB primary election coming up next week.

Click here for the video.

Video update from Chief Executive

This evening, Monday, June 1, 2020, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin congratulates the graduating class of 2020. She also reminds folks about the drive-through COVID-19 testing happening in each district starting June 2. The dates and times are as follows:

  • Drive through COVID-19 testing - DII – Tuesday, June 2 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Minisinaakwaang parking lot.
  • DI and IIA – Wednesday, June 3 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the NEW HHS Building parking lot on Timber Trails Drive.
  • DIII – Thursday, June 4 from 10 a.m. to noon in the Aazhoomog clinic parking lot. The HHS team will travel to Hinckley. Testing will be done at Meshakwad parking lot from 1 to 5 p.m.

Click here for the video.

Chief Executive updates Band members on urban unrest, Band-wide COVID-19 testing

Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin updated Band members about the reopening of Grand Casinos. A traditional dish-setting took place this morning in advance of the opening with Joe Nayquonabe Sr. speaking. "I am very happy and I feel we are blessed that we still have our traditional Elders who can speak on our behalf and ask for help," said Melanie.

Chief Executive Benjamin also provided further information regarding the COVID-19 pop-up testing sites beginning June 2 for all districts, and the urban food distribution rescheduled for June 3.

Chief Executive Benjamin concluded with a heartfelt message to the people of Minneapolis, including urban Band members, during a time of unrest in the Urban area. The current situation on top of COVID-19 is cause for great concern for everyone. She also thanked the warriors who patrolled Native buildings in Minneapolis overnight. "Please be careful out there. I know it's a scary time, and my heart goes out to all who are dealing with this scary situation," she said. "Please be safe. My heart goes out to all."

Community-wide COVID-19 testing begins June 2

Community-wide COVID-19 testing will be offered to Mille Lacs Band community members in all districts June 2-4.

In partnership with Mayo Clinic, a team coordinated by the Health and Human Services Department will conduct the test with results returned in 5 – 7 business days.

The schedule is as follows:

District II – Tuesday, June 2, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Minisinaakwaang parking lot.
District I and IIA – Wednesday, June 3, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the new HHS building parking lot on Timber Trail Road.
District III – Thursday, June 4, from 10 a.m. to noon in the Aazhoomog Clinic parking lot and 1 to 5 p.m. at Meshakwad Community Center parking lot.

Testing will be done via drive-through. Please limit passengers in car to allow for social distancing.

Testing is for community members who do not have symptoms. PLEASE NOTE: If you have symptoms, please call the clinic for an appointment.

We will be testing age 12 and above. If a family would like younger children tested, please call the clinic for an appointment.

Chief Executive updates Band members on Commissioner's Order requiring masks

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides a brief update for Band members regarding COVID-19 on Thursday, May 28, 2020. She speaks in summary on the Commissioners Order requiring masks at all Band government buildings and properties, COVID-19 pop-up testing that will be available for Band members in each District starting the week of June first (schedule to be announced soon), and encourages Band members to watch the video regarding the re-opening of the casinos posted earlier today.

Click here for the video.

Commissioner of Corporate Affairs announces reopening of Grand Casinos

Today, Commissioner of Corporate Affairs Joe Nayquonabe shared a video message announcing the June 1 reopening of Grand Casino Hinckley and Grand Casino Mille Lacs.

A soft opening for Band members will be held on Sunday, May 31, at the following times:

Grand Casino Hinckley: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Grand Casino Mille Lacs: 4 – 8 p.m.

Commissioner's Order Requires Masks on Band Properties

Commissioner of Health and Human Services Nicole Anderson signed Commissioner’s Order 20-01 on May 27 requiring individuals to wear masks or cloth face coverings in Mille Lacs Band government facilities and Band-owned businesses.

We know masks can help reduce the risk of spreading the disease, not just for those wearing them, but for others in our communities as well," said Commissioner Anderson. "Although masks are one of the best tools we have, they are not 100 percent effective, so it remains essential that we stay at home whenever possible, especially those of us with underlying health issues.

In light of recent develops outside of the Band's control, including the loosening of state restrictions and the increased traffic coming north, Band officials decided it was necessary to put new measures in place to protect our Elders and other vulnerable community members.

Commissioner Anderson also reminds Band members to wash their hands often and to practice social distancing when they need to leave the home.

The order, which goes into effect immediately and expires on August 31, applies to anyone over two years old who can medically tolerate a face covering, and it also requires that government personnel wear gloves when entering Band member residences to provide public services.

Government personnel and employees of Band-owned businesses are required to wear masks or cloth face coverings whenever they are in face-to-face contact with the public.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, wearing cloth face coverings in public settings can help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz’s May 13 executive order to begin safely reopening Minnesota’s economy also strongly recommends that Minnesotans wear masks and face coverings whenever they leave their homes.

Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin declared a State of Emergency for the Mille Lacs Band on March 15, 2020, in response to the worldwide outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.

A Stay Home order for Mille Lacs Band tribal lands went into effect on March 27 and remains in place.

Commissioner's Order Page 1
Commissioner's Order Page 2

Mental health manager offers encouragement during stressful times

The Mille Lacs Band Health and Human Services department provides many services for the community including the areas of Mental Health. Crissy Wade, Mental Health Manager, speaks about being kind. It's ok to be feeling stressed and worried as the state of Minnesota begins to re-open. It is ok to talk to someone and Crissy is available to talk without judgment. Everyone copes with stress in different ways. It is important to remember everyone has different viewpoints and feelings and that’s ok. Be kind to one another and be kind to yourself. Spread kindness, not germs.

Click here for the video.

Chief Executive gives message to 5th grade graduates

Today, May 22, 2020 is a day of celebration because today is the day of our Mille Lacs Band 5th grade graduation. We are all very proud of you for this accomplishment. Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin has a special message for all of our 5th graders today and to the family members and others who have helped you along this important path. Have a great summer!

Click here for the video.

Chief Executive's video update

Mille Lac Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin offers congratulations to the graduating 5th graders and a shout out to the Mille Lacs Early Education Head Start program along with updates for COVID-19. More than 80 percent of Band members who replied to a survey support the reopening of Grand Casinos.

Click here for the video.

A special message to 5th graders

A very special message to all NAS 5th graders who will be 6th graders next fall! You have come a long way since kindergarten and we are all very proud of you. Watch this video message to take a look back at 5th grade and a look ahead at 6th grade. Your future is bright! Have a great summer!

Click here for the video.

Early Education staff get funky

When in doubt, dance it out. Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Some of the Mille Lacs Band Early Education staff and friends got together for some social-distancing-mask-wearing-exercising and all-around good time fun.

And this time, they are about to get funky! Click here for the video

The best way for Band members to protect themselves from COVID-19 is still to stay home when you can, practice regular thorough handwashing, and when you must go out, practice social distancing, and wear masks.

We want to see what you are doing to have fun while staying safe. Send your social-distancing-mask-wearing photos to news@millelacsband.com. Include your name and home town, please. Miigwech!

Chief Executive's Video Update

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides a brief update for Band members on Wednesday, May 20, 2020. She included a message to remember to be kind and compassionate towards one another during these challenging times.

Click here for the video.

Important Message from Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin

Chief Executive's Video Update

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides an important update for Band members on Wednesday, May 13, 2020. This message has information regarding the June stimulus and a reminder to fill out the census information. Everyone counts. Be counted. Visit: 2020census.gov for more information. Click here for the video.

Spring Cleanup Is Underway

Click here for a video about the cleanup and an update from Public Works.

The Mille Lacs Band spring cleanup is underway and going strong. A big shout out and Chi Miigwech to the team at Public Works for forging ahead to come up with a plan to help spruce up our communities for spring. There is still time to drop off your discarded treasures in District I. Districts II and III will have a chance in the weeks to follow. Please see the information below for further details. Think spring!

District I

Vineland – Monday, May 11 through Saturday, May 16 (Closed Sunday) & Monday May 18 through Friday, May 22. Hours of operation will be 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. All roll-off dumpsters will be located at the Mille Lacs Band Transfer Station located at 43188 Timber Trails Road. Please follow directions of staff who work this event as we try and make unloading safe and quick as possible.

District II

East Lake, McGregor, Minnewawa, Sandy Lake and Isle – Saturday, May 23 through Friday, May 29. Hours of operation will be 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Roll-offs will be placed at the East Lake Maintenance facility for District II and Isle Community Center for District IIA.

District III

Lake Lena: Monday June, 1 to Sunday, June 7. Hours of operation will be 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Roll-offs will be placed at the following locations: Maintenance building in Lake Lena across from Community Center and at the Cull de sac at Wise Owl.
Hinckley: Monday June, 8 to Sunday, June 14. Hours of operation will be 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Roll-offs will be placed at the following locations: Earthworks building located on Hwy. 48, 2 miles east of Hinckley Casino.

Health and Human Services Update

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Health and Human Services (HHS) department continues to provide Band members with quality care you can count on. During these uncertain times of constant change, the HHS department wishes to remind you of the services available for your health and safety.

In this video update, Commissioner Nicole Anderson reminds Band members that the following services are still available:

  • Provider appointments
  • Mental health care
  • Substance use counseling and assessments
  • Commodities and Food shelf
  • Pharmacy
  • Dental emergencies

Jenna Kuduk, who manages the after-hours nurse line, encourages Band members to call at any time about their needs, whether they are feeling symptoms or need assistance with ongoing health care concerns. Call 320-630-0397 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 320-630-0855 after hours and on weekends. And of course call 911 first in the event of a medical emergency.

Dr. Mark Bostrom ensures Band members that the clinic has implemented processes that will maintain your safety if you need to come in for COVID-19 symptoms or general medical problems. Call the nurse line first to make sure a visit is necessary before coming in, but don't neglect medical problems that need attention.

Dr. Bostrom also reminds Band members to promote their own safety and that of their loved ones, especially our Elders who are potentially more vulnerable. Social distancing, staying home, hand washing, and facial coverings may be inconvenient but they are proven methods of keeping people safe.

He also said it is important to go outside for exercise, fresh air, and sunshine, and he asked us to reach out to those more vulnerable, more in need, and more lonely. "Be smart, but also be kind and just know that we at the clinic are doing everything we can to help you through this time," said Dr. Bostrom. "I just encourage you to do what you can, and we’ll do our best to continue to take care of you."

Provider appointments: 320-532-4163 option 2
Nurse line clinic: 320-630-0397
Nurse line (after hours — Jenna Kuduk): 320-630-0855
Mental Health appointments: 320-532-4163 option 2
Mental Health call line: 320-674-4385
Substance use assessments and counseling: 320-532-7773
Pharmacy: 320-532-4770
Dental emergenices: 320-532-4779
Commodities and food shelf: 320-630-2432

Today, May 7, 2020, Mille Lacs Band off Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin was at the south Garrison Public Boat Access to wish the DNR staff good fishing as they set out to fish for the Elders. She also expressed gratitude to Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan and Governor Tim Walz for making government-to-government relations with tribes a priority. She said she has worked with six different governors, and the Walz administration is the best when it comes to working with tribal governments and seeking tribal input. "Stay safe, stay home and be considerate of others, and we will get through this together," said Melanie.

Click here to watch the video.

Chief Executive's Video Update

Click here for Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin's daily video update.

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides an update for Band members on Wednesday, May 6, 2020.

Today she spoke briefly about new online educational occupational opportunities for Band members, including auto mechanics, certified nursing assistant, and commercial driver's license training.

In honor of International Nurses Week, Melanie gave a huge shout out to the MLBO nursing staff and nurses everywhere around the world.

She also thanked the harvesters who had volunteered to net walleyes to be included in food packages for Elders.

Chief Executive's Video Update

Click here for today's update from Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides frequent updates for Band members regarding COVID-19 and the current status of tribal government. Today, May 5, 2020, Chief Executive Benjamin has a message full of information to answer Band member questions regarding funerals, finances, stimulus taxes, the 2020 Census, and more.

There are now four confirmed cases in Mille Lacs County, 60 in Pine County, 1 in Aitkin, and 21 in Crow Wing.

Melanie also reminded Band members of the importance of completing the census. An example of the importance of the census is the CARES Act, which is providing relief funds to tribes based on data from the 2010 census. "If our census data is not accurate, we may not get all the funding that should be allocated to the Band," said Melanie.

Chief Executive's Video Update

Mille Lacs Band Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin gives some inspired words to encourage Band members to stay home and stay safe during the extended Stay Home order. She offers heartfelt sympathy to those who have lost family members. Click here for the video.

Chief Executive's Video Update

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides a brief update for Band members regarding COVID-19 on Friday, May 1, 2020. Today she talked a little bit about the MCT quarterly meeting and added a reminder for Band members to complete the 2020 Census. Click here for the video.

Melanie gave an update on COVID-19 cases in the region: Pine County has two more, at 58; Mille Lacs County has had 2 cases with 1 death; Aitkin County still has only 1 case; Crow Wing has 21.

Melanie said she and Secretary/Treasurer Sheldon Boyd had attended the quarterly meeting of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe's Tribal Executive Committee. The meeting was held as a Zoom conference, and she said the MCT administration is working on ways to allow MCT members to attend and participate in the meetings. On the agenda were enrollments, the impact of a legal case, Hudson vs. Zinke, quarterly reports from various departments, and discussion of the Constitution.

She reminded Band members that the tribal primary election was moved to June 9 and the general election to August 18.

Melanie said she talked to Shelly Diaz, who reminds Band members that disaster funds are based on the Census, so all Band members should complete the Census.

Finally, Melanie reminded Band members who don’t have health insurance to call Circle of Health and talk to a Benefits Coordinator. The number is 800-491-6106.

Chief Executive's video update

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin responds to Band member questions and concerns regarding the Mille Lacs Band stimulus payments. Click here for the video.

Melanie said Health and Human Services Commissioner Nicole Anderson said if Band members don’t have health insurance, the should call Circle of Health and talk to a Benefits Coordinator. The number is 800-491-6106.

Melanie also reminded Band members that Governor Tim Walz had signed Emergency Executive Order 20-42 Ensuring that Emergency Economic Relief Does Not Prevent Eligibility for Essential Human Services Programs During the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency. To read the entire Order, click here.

Governor Walz Extends Stay Home Order in Minnesota

Walz extends order until May 18, allows curbside pickup for retail stores and strongly encourages all Minnesotans to wear masks when outside the home

April 30, 2020

[ST. PAUL, MN] – As the state continues to make progress in preparing for the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Tim Walz today extended the Stay Home Order in Minnesota until Monday, May 18. In an effort to get more Minnesotans back safely to work while the order remains in effect, the Governor announced that retail businesses and other non-critical businesses will resume operations with curbside pick-up.

“From building out critical hospital capacity to launching a landmark testing strategy, Minnesota has made meaningful progress in preparing for the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Governor Walz said. “Minnesotans have made this possible by staying home and holding down the rate of infection. But now is not the time for sudden movements. There’s more work to be done, and we need to keep this virus at a simmer, not a boil. Our action today prioritizes the safety of Minnesotans while taking cautious, strategic steps toward getting people safely back to work.”

Also as part of his Executive Order today, Governor Walz strongly encouraged all Minnesotans to wear a manufactured or homemade mask at all times when they leave their homes to any place where social distancing is difficult.

“Minnesotans look out for one another – we’re asking that they continue to protect their neighbors and slow the spread of this virus,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “We must continue to stay home, practice safe social distancing, and wear cloth masks while in public so we can carefully and responsibly turn the dial toward reopening society.”

By extending the Stay Home Order, the Governor said the state will: slow the spread of COVID-19 and slowly build herd immunity; protect those working on the front lines by increasing access to personal protective equipment; ensure our health system can care for all who require care; gradually allow more Minnesotans to return to work; and safely and slowly resume in-person contacts and other activities that are critical for our well-being.

“Our public health workers are putting in a tremendous effort to protect people from this terrible pandemic, and Minnesotans across the state have stepped up to help by following the social distancing guidelines and slowing the spread,” Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said. “The Governor’s extension of the stay-at-home order gives us a better chance to limit the impacts of this pandemic. It buys us more time to trace and isolate cases, and to work upstream to prevent infections from jumping into new and vulnerable groups. More time means more lives saved.”

Starting May 4, retail businesses and other non-critical businesses may begin offering curbside pick-up. This will put up to 30,000 Minnesotans back to work in a safe, coordinated way. Businesses must:

Develop and publicly post a plan for how to open safely.
Use online payment whenever possible.
Employees and customers should wear masks and protective equipment.
In curbside pick-up scenarios, social distancing guidelines apply. If possible, customers should not leave their vehicle.
In delivery scenarios, items should be deposited outside a customer’s residence.
Minnesotans should also continue to telework whenever possible, wear face masks in public, screen for symptoms and regularly check their temperature, and maintain physical distance from each other.

“Listening to Minnesota business and labor leaders on how to ensure the safety of workers and customers is at the core of our decision-making process,” said Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove. “Today’s announcement is the right next step to help more Minnesotans safely return to work and to reopen more businesses to get our economy ramping up again.”

In the time Minnesotans have bought by staying home, Minnesota has:

  • Announced a landmark testing strategy that will allow us to complete up to 20,000 tests a day and test every symptomatic Minnesotan.
  • Built hospital capacity and finalized a lease on an alternate care site to make sure that all Minnesotans who need care can receive it.
  • Worked to acquire more personal protective equipment to protect our frontline workers.

The Governor’s Executive Order will have the full force and effect of law upon approval by the Executive Council.

Updates on the COVID-19 pandemic in Minnesota are available at mn.gov/covid19/.

Frequently asked questions are available here.

Chief Executive's Video Update

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides a brief update to Band members regarding the Band's continuing response during the COVID-19 crisis on Wednesday, April 29, 2020. Click here for the video.

Melanie reminded Band members to stay home if possible, and if you have to go out, please wear a mask! She said she had been to a store recently and was dismayed that no one else was wearing a mask.

She reported the following numbers of cases in the area: Aitkin County, 1; Crow Wing County, 20 cases with 1 death; Mille Lacs County, 2 cases with 1 death; Pine County, 56 cases.

Melanie continues to attend daily online and phone meetings with tribal leaders and federal and state officials to discuss funding, responses to the crisis, and ways to partner to reduce the spread of coronavirus. She said she was grateful to Congressman Pete Stauber for calling to check on the welfare of the Band and offer his support.

Melanie reminded Band members that child support will be deducted from stimulus checks just as it is from per capita payments. She told Band members that Governor Tim Walz had signed Emergency Executive Order 20-42 Ensuring that Emergency Economic Relief Does Not Prevent Eligibility for Essential Human Services Programs During the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency. To read the entire Order, click here.

As a reminder, Melanie said, the stimulus checks are being issued because the casino closures means the Band does not have the necessary funds for per capita payments.

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin pays tribute to Arthur Gahbow for his service to the Mille Lacs Band 1972-1991. Today we celebrate and say Miigwech on Art Gahbow Day. Click here for the video.

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides a brief heartfelt COVID-19 update on Friday, April 24, 2020. Click here for the video.

Mille Lacs Band Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides an update regarding the current issues of COVID-19 for Thursday, April 23, 2020. Click here for the video.

Mille Lacs Band Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides a brief update on progress with federal funding for tribes. Included slides from the Minnesota Department of Health public dashboard regarding current COVID-19 stats. Click here for the video.

Chief Executive's video update

With new positive cases of COVID-19 reported on April 17, 1 in Mille Lacs County, 1 in Aitkin County with 17 in Crow Wing County and 8 in Pine County as of late Friday afternoon, Mille Lacs Band Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin sends a request urging the community to "Stay Home and Stay Safe." There are no confirmed cases reported of Band members living on the reservation having tested positive at this time. She also provides important governmental updates.

Click here to watch the video.

Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin's video update

Urgent message from Mille Lacs Band Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin regarding an alleged donation request scam.
I was alarmed to learn of an email scam of someone claiming to be me. The scammer is requesting that people purchase gift cards with their own money for a Band member who has tested positive for COVID-19. I did not send these emails and would never ask Band members or Band employees to do something like this. To the best of my knowledge there are still no Band members who have tested positive for COVID-19. Unfortunately, there are some hateful people who will prey on the kindness of others during this crisis. If you have received an email that appears to be from me coming from a G-mail account, please contact Tribal Police at 320-532-3430, and also please inform Peter Nayquonabe at 320-630-2994. Miigwech.

Click here for the video.

Chief Executive's Video Update

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides a brief example of unemployment for furloughed employees and answers questions regarding higher education scholarships. Also, please watch for spring harvest updates on the Mille Lacs Band DNR Facebook page coming soon. Click here to watch the video.

Chief Executive's Video Update

Mille Lacs Band Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provided an update for Band members recorded during the ham distribution at Grand Casino Mille Lacs on Friday, April 10. Chief Executive Benjamin discusses recent calls with the Governor's office and the Department of Treasury and continues to answer questions from Band members. Click here for the video.

Minnesota Bolsters Health Care Programs in Pandemic

During the coronavirus pandemic, Minnesotans who rely on Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare should know that their health care coverage is secure and that they have improved access to telemedicine and extended supplies of many prescription drugs.

Commissioner Jodi Harpstead has taken multiple steps under her emergency authority to waive and modify procedures during the COVID-19 peacetime emergency declared by Governor Tim Walz. Changes she has approved include:

• Restoring coverage for people whose enrollment was due to expire at end of March
• Postponing renewals, which could have led to gaps in coverage over paperwork issues
• Suspending case closures unless a person requests one, moves out of state, or passes away
• Expanding access to telemedicine for health care and home and community-based waiver programs
• Allowing people to get up to a 90-day supply of prescriptions for maintenance medications, but not controlled substances
• Eliminating co-payments and other cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing and treatment

“People need to know they’re safe and they don’t need to worry about losing their coverage during this unprecedented crisis,” Harpstead said. “It’s also important to remember that enrollment in public health care programs is always available, and we encourage people who have lost coverage to find out if they are eligible.”

Many Minnesotans who need health care coverage can apply for Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare at any time through MNsure or by calling 855-366-7873. Individuals who are 65 years or older, blind or have a disability and need Medical Assistance must submit a paper application through their county or tribal agency.

Medical Assistance is Minnesota’s Medicaid program for people with low income. MinnesotaCare provides health care coverage for low-income Minnesotans who earn too much to qualify for Medical Assistance but cannot afford to buy coverage on their own. Eligibility for Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare is based on income and other factors.

Minnesota has requested and received federal approvals to make these changes, with details posted on the Department of Human Services’ public website.

Executive Order 20-12, signed by Governor Walz on 20 March, allows the Department of Human Services to temporarily waive or modify state requirements to ensure that services can be delivered safely and without undue delay, protecting vulnerable Minnesotans and those who care for them. The agency provides health care coverage, programs and services for more than 1 million Minnesotans.

Elder Meal Distribution:

Elders must pick up the food personally in the district where they reside on April 15, 2020, from 1 to 3 p.m.

Locations for Meal Distribution Pickup

  • District 1: Grand Casino Mille Lacs (South side of the Convention Center)
  • District 2A: Grand Casino Mille Lacs (South side of the Convention Center)
  • District 2: D2 Minisinaakwaang Community Center
  • District 3: North side of Hinckley Casino (Parking lot between casino and Hwy 48 Frontage road)
  • Urban Area: Pick up at the Urban Office on Thursday, April 16th from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m

Elder Meal Distribution PDF

Grants for veterans

The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs is providing grants to assist veterans who are in need of help due to COVID-19.

The COVID-19 Special Needs Grant provides a one-time financial grant, up to $3,000, to a Veteran or surviving spouse who needs assistance due to a COVID-19 related event.

The COVID-19 Disaster Relief Grant helps to mitigate the negative effects and economic impact COVID-19 has had on Veterans and their families by providing a one-time financial relief grant in the amount of $1,000.

Ne-Ia-Shing Clinic Mental Health Services

The Mille Lacs Band Health and Human Resources Department has been providing health care services for Band members in a variety of areas for decades. In response to COVID-19 several options have been added for health care needs of the community. The Ne-la-Shing Clinic has recently initiated a TeleHealth service where patients can "see" their health care provider virtually. There is also a new Mental Health hotline for the community should anyone feel the need to talk to someone. Here to speak about options available are Mental Health Therapists Crissy Wade and Hannah Aase. Click here for the video.

Mille Lacs Band Chief Executive provided another video update on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. This message is comes on the heels of Minnesota Governor Walz's announcement of the extension of the State of Minnesota's Stay Home executive order to May 4, 2020. The Mille Lacs Band Executive order to Stay Home was written with no end date; therefore, it will remain in place until further notice. Click here for the video.

A Band Assembly Bill was approved on Tuesday, April 7, 2020, and signed by the Chief Executive the same day issuing a May Economic Stimulus Payment in the amount of $1,500. This payment is replacing the May Per Capita Payment due to the casinos being closed and not currently generating revenue. The stimulus payment will be issued May 1, 2020 to all Band Members who are 18 years of age as of May 1, 2020. The Elected Officials felt this was necessary to help Band Members financially during the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis which is changing daily, monitored very closely and addressed as needed.

Mille Lacs Band Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provided an update to Band members with clarification regarding per capita payments and the stimulus. She answered Band member questions from the update that was provided on April 6, 2020. Click here for the video.

Mille Lacs Band Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin sat down today to discuss tribal government finances with Joe Nayquonabe, Commissioner of Corporate Affairs, along with Sheldon Boyd, Secretary/Treasurer and Speaker of Assembly of Legislative Brand, and Mel Towle, Commissioner of Finance. Click here for the video.

Click here for a list of resources available for the Urban Area.

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe District I Representative Sandi Blake took a moment to speak to community members with a reminder to take coronavirus seriously and practice social distancing if you do go out. She also gave a thank you to employees, the TERC, and Band Assembly who are all working to keep things running as smoothly as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here for the YouTube video.

Mille Lacs Band Chief Executive gave a brief update to the community for Friday, April 3, 2020. A list of important phone numbers is also included. Click here for the YouTube video.

A message from Mille Lacs Band Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin.
The Mille Lacs Band is practicing social distancing because we care about each and every one of you. Several meetings via conference calling have been happening this week at both the state and the federal tables. All of these calls are important and necessary for Mille Lacs Band to have a seat at the tables and be present (virtually) so that our voices can be heard. Click here for the video.

Chief Executive Reminds Band Members that Stay-At-Home Order Goes Into Effect Today

Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin spoke to Band members today about the Stay-At-Home Order signed yesterday, which goes into effect tonight at 11:59 p.m. — the same time as the statewide Order issued by Governor Tim Walz. Melanie also reports on nutritional service provided for students and Elders. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swKQrQUEytk&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1FV3dE2SHLelHygu3mATC_LZWs1MBSI6YZA77-xPNzfX_n4L9RGjziY8Y

Chief Executive, Secretary/Treasurer Send Letter to Band Members Regarding Stay-At-Home Order

Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin and Secretary-Treasurer Sheldon Boyd shared this letter to explain Mille Lacs Band Executive Order 2020-5, a stay-at-home order, which Band Members are asked to do their best to comply with. This letter was distributed to Band Members on March 26. The MLB order goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. tonight, Friday, March 27, simultaneously with Governor Walz's order for Minnesotans to stay at home. The impact of the State and Band orders are nearly identical, except that the MLB order includes a statement making clear that the MLB order does not apply to ceremonial life/gatherings or the exercise of hunting, fishing, and gathering rights. Miigwech. #StayHomeMLBO #StayHomeMN #AnishinabeStrong Click here to read the letter.

Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Shares Revised Election Calendar; Absentee Ballot Request Form Available

On March 24, the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe’s Tribal Executive Committee (TEC) voted 7-4 in favor of Resolution 65-20, which postpones the tribal primary election until June 9 and the general election until August 18 due to coronavirus.

On March 26, the MCT released a Revised Election Calendar. Click here to view the calendar.

Secretary/Treasurer Sheldon Boyd and Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin voted against the change after Sheldon consulted with the Election Board members, who wanted the primary to go ahead as planned on March 31.

All absentee ballots that have been cast already are still valid. The MCT is requiring that each Reservation Election Board store all ballots received under lock and key until the June 9 primary. More information will be coming from the MCT on this topic.

Absentee Ballot Request Form — Word Version

Absentee Ballot Request Form — PDF Version

Public Health Director Shares Tips on Self-Protection, At-Home Quarantining, and Self-Monitoring

HHS Public Health Director Lisa has provided some education materials that remind us how to protect ourselves and also give guidelines to those who may be required to self-monitor or quarantine themselves at home. Please take a moment to check out the flyers and share with others. Miigwech!

Wewinabi Inc. Shares Update on Band-owned Businesses

Due to recent updates and state orders, Wewinabi Inc. has made modifications to some business operations.

Tesoro MLB Convenience Store and Subway is closing March 27, 2020, at 6 p.m. for a minimum of two weeks.

Grand Market will remain open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, with 8 – 9 a.m. reserved for elder/vulnerable population. The Deli is closing March 27 – 29, 2020, and will reopen on Monday, March 30, with new hours.

East Lake Convenience Store: Effective, March 29, 2020, the store will be open Monday – Saturday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and will be closed on Sundays.

Crossroads Convenience Store is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Grand Makwa: Temporary closure is in place.

Grindstone Laundry – temporary closure in place

Super Stop hours have changed to 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Taco Johns is open for drive-through only from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Please continue to visit our facebook page for further updates.

Nas Ah Shing Abinoojiiyag Updates Students, Families

As teachers and staff at Abinoojiiyag prepare to send boxes filled with fun new ways for students to learn, they took a few moments to send messages to the kiddos. Miigwech to the staff, paras and teachers who are creative and caring. Miigwech to all students. You are all awesome. https://youtu.be/zlh3AHXKX7c

Chief Executive's Daily Video Update

Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provides a YouTube update on the Band's response and preparation for COVID-19, including new state funding and the Stay-at-Home order.

HHS Commissioner Provides Video Update

Health and Human Services Commissioner Nicole Anderson shared a video update with Band members, including an overview of clinic and departmental operations and phone numbers. The HHS Department will continue to provide services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Updates will be provided as changes occur. #StayHomeMLBO
https://youtu.be/8tejio6fSyY

Commissioner of Administration Updates Employees on Operations while Stay-At-Home Order is in Place

Commissioner of Administration Baabiitaw Boyd shared a memorandum with employees to describe tribal government operations that will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 27, when the Mille Lacs Band's Stay-At-Home Order takes effect. Click here to read the memorandum.

HHS Shares Important Contact Numbers

Tribal Court Is Now Closed Until Further Notice

Mille Lacs Band Tribal Courts are temporarily closed. For immediate questions please call (320) 532-7400.
Due to the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Mille Lacs Band Court of Central Jurisdiction has implemented a TEMPORARY e-filing system. ALL PLEADINGS AND OTHER DOCUMENTS THAT ARE TO BE E-FILED WITH THE COURT MUST BE EMAILED TO: MLBO.Court@MilleLacsBand.com

Family Violence Prevention Program Still Providing Advocacy

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Family Violence Prevention Program is still providing advocacy for domestic violence, sexual assault, elder abuse, and human trafficking.

24/7 Crisis Line: 1-866-867-4006

Shelter Manager: 320-630-2677

FVPP Administrator: 320-630-2499

CSS Director: 320-630-2687

Elder Abuse Advocates:
Cynthia Guernsey: 320-362-4941
Mike Davis: 320-630-7666

Sexual Assault Program:
Kala Roberts: 320-630-2691
Petra Mauricio: 320-362-4995

Victims of Crime:
Melissa Sanvig: 320-364-3568

Community Advocates:
Nanette DesJarlais: 320-362-0642
Winnie Davis: 320-674-0790
Kris Sheppard: 320-630-3811

We are ensuring the health and safety of everyone during this time. We are currently only providing transports and advocacy at an emergency basis. All staff are available by the numbers provided.

Isle Schools Update

Superintendent Dean Kapsner sent a letter to parents of children in the Isle School District. Click here for page 1 and here for page two.

Chief Executive Signs Stay At Home Order

On March 25, Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin signed Executive Order 2020-05 providing a stay at home order for all persons enrolled with the Non-Removable Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa Indians or any other federally-recognized tribe.

Chief Executive's video update on Stay At Home Order

Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin gave a video update for Band members on the stay at home order she signed on March 25 as well as the statewide stay at home order signed by Governor Tim Walz.

Chief Executive's Video Update: Tribal Primary Election Postponed

Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin provided an update to Band members on the postponement of the tribal primary election to June 9 by the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe's Tribal Executive Committee. The TEC voted 7-4 to move the primary, with representatives from Mille Lacs and Grand Portage voting against. Click here for the video.

MCT Postpones Tribal Primary Until June 9, General Election Until August 18

On March 24, the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe’s Tribal Executive Committee (TEC) voted 7-4 in favor of Resolution 65-20, which postpones the tribal primary election until June 9 and the general election until August 18 due to coronavirus.

Secretary/Treasurer Sheldon Boyd and Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin voted against the change after Sheldon consulted with the Election Board members, who wanted the primary to go ahead as planned on March 31.

Grand Portage Chairwoman Beth Drost and Secretary/Treasurer April McCormick also voted against the measure.

Resolution 65-20 also amends the Election Ordinance by adding Section 1.12, which reads in part: "Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Tribal Executive Committee postpones the 2020 elections due to the coronavirus pandemic to protect the health, safety, and welfare of Tribal members."

The resolution also waives the notice requirements for a Special Meeting to address emergency matters pursuant to the Revised Constitution and Bylaws and allows business to be conducted during the Special Meeting by a conference call to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The TEC met March 24 by Zoom video-conference with the sole purpose of deciding how to handle the upcoming MCT elections in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin, the TEC considered several options, including taking no action and eliminating the primary.

All absentee ballots that have been cast already are still valid. The MCT is requiring that each Reservation Election Board store all ballots received under lock and key until the June 9 primary. More information will be coming from the MCT on this topic.

Chief Executive's Daily Update

Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin shared another update on the COVID-19 situation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ac9ByfxeX04&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR0QMbz8dVmVcfLDOAKz_uBEW3LMOvCh9NJSqGcFIN570BsI7EiS3dYrxWI

Beware of COVID-Related Scams

Medicare recipients (and others): Beware of COVID-19 scams, and NEVER provide your Social Security number or bank account or other information to any caller!

Scammers may use COVID-19 as an opportunity to steal your identity and commit Medicare fraud. In some cases, they might tell you they'll send you a Coronavirus test, masks, or other items in exchange for your Medicare number or personal information. Be wary of unsolicited requests for your Medicare number or other personal information.

It's important to always guard your Medicare card like a credit card and check your Medicare claims summary forms for errors. Only give your Medicare number to participating Medicare pharmacists, primary and specialty care doctors or people you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf. Remember, Medicare will never call you to ask for or check your Medicare number.

More Info

For more information on protecting yourself from fraud and reporting suspected fraud, visit Medicare.gov/fraud.

Chief Executive's Daily Video Update

Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin reflects on treaty rights in the midst of COVID-19.
Click here for the video.

Extra update on government operations.

Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Shares Free or Low-Cost Internet Resources

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has shared information about low-cost Internet service, low-cost devices, and learning content. Click here for details.

Early Ed Drive-up Open 8 to 10:30 a.m.

The MLEE Friday Drive-Up is open until 10:30 am for Early Head Start and Head Start Drop-Offs!
The Food & Supply Bags and Book of the Day and Book Bingo is ready to go for our families.
Hot coffee for the parents!
Roll on up to Wewinabi!

Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan says #StayHomeMN

As cases of COVID-19 continue to increase across Minnesota, Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan are launching a campaign called “#StayHomeMN” to encourage everyone to help stop the spread by staying home if they can.

Chief Executive Benjamin recommends that we watch this video from the Lieutenant Governor and participate in the #StayHomeMN campaign.

Click here to watch the video.

StrongHearts Native Helpline Will Continue to Offer Services During COVID-19 Pandemic

StrongHearts Native Helpline acknowledges that this is a very difficult time for all Native people. We are very concerned about those most vulnerable including those who may be in unhealthy or abusive relationships; therefore, we will continue to operate and offer our services as long as possible.

At the StrongHearts office, we are taking the directed social distancing protocols very seriously. As such, callers may experience longer call wait times. Callers may press one at any time to be transferred to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, a non-Native Hotline. The Hotline is also responding to the directed protocols so callers may experience extended call wait times.

Please note that the StrongHearts website and social media sites are not equipped for support services.

We hope that this situation is temporary. Again, we will continue to operate and offer our services daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Central Daylight Time. We apologize for any disruptions in service and thank all of our Native communities for your patience and understanding.

We are here. We are ready to listen.

1-844-7NATIVE

Video update from Governor Tim Walz

Chief Executive Benjamin recommends that we watch this video and participate in Governor Walz's #StayHomeMN campaign. Click here to watch the video.

As cases of COVID-19 continue to increase across Minnesota, the Walz Administration is launching a campaign called “#StayHomeMN” to encourage everyone to help stop the spread by staying home if they can.

Daily video update from Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin

Click here for the Chief Executive's daily update.

Hours for Grand Market and convenience stores

Mille Lacs Band businesses will be open during the following hours until further notice. Please keep in mind times are subject to change and further updates will be made.

Grand Market: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
MLB Tesoro: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
East Lake and Crossroads: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Super Stop: 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Child Support Update

Child Support wage checks will be available for pick up Friday, March 20, from 8 to 10 a.m. unless you are on the Do Not Mail list. Please call Rachel Sablan at 320-532-7461 for pick up.

Commissioner of Administration Baabiitaw Boyd shares video update

Click here to hear an update on the Tribal TANF program from Commissioner Boyd.

Early Education releases video update on food service

Click here to learn about the Early Education department's food service efforts while programs are not in session.

Early Education Food and Supplies available by drive-up, bus

Mille Lacs Early Education's drive-up food and supply service is open to all District I Early Head Start students and Head Start non-bus riders. Please stop at the Wewinabi Early Education building between 8:30 and 10 a.m. daily to pick up your child's food and supply boxes.

This will be ongoing until otherwise specified.

District I, II, and III bus routes will continue as well, if your child has been receiving their food and supply boxes via the bus. This will also continue until otherwise specified.

Early Education staff are available to help as much as possible. Call 320-532-7590 with questions or concerns.

Chief Executive Gives Daily Video Update

Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin prepared a video update for Band members on March 17 that is available on YouTube. Click here to watch the video.

Tribal TANF Enacts Measures to Keep Families Safe

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic TANF will be enacting measures to keep our families safe.

You can read the details here or go to the Aanjibimaadizing page on the website, which also has the Household Report Form some families will need to fill out: millelacsband.com/services/aanjibimaadizing

Wewinabi Inc. Reports on Operations at Grand Market, Grand Makwa, restaurants, and convenience stores.

Wewinabi, Inc. is prepared to care and assist the community through this challenging time to flatten the curve and reduce the spread of illness.

Due to the changing circumstances we have taken a proactive approach to our diverse business portfolio and they are highlighted below.

Click here for more.

Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin's Video Update on COVID-19

Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin prepared a video update for Band members on March 17 that is available on YouTube. Click here to watch the video.

Health and Human Services Department Issues Report on State of Operations

On March 17, Commissioner of Health and Human Services Nicole Anderson released a report on the state of HHS operations. The report updates Band members on clinic services, public health and ALUs, substance use programs, community support services, and family services.

Click here for detailed information.

Community Development Identifies Core Services to Be Provided

Acting Commissioner of Community Development Peter Nayquonabe issued a memorandum this morning to identify core services that will be provided by the Department in the event of a partial or near-complete shutdown of the Tribal Government as a result of a potential COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

Click here for the complete memorandum.

Tribal Court Update

Interim Chief Justice Ramona Applegate shared Chief Justice Court Order 53 on March 17 regarding operations of the Mille Lacs Band Court of Central Jurisdiction (Tribal Court) under the Band-wide and State-wide emergency. The order outlines procedures for hearings, trials, filing, and prioritization of cases. To read the Order, click here.

Aanjibimaadizing Update

Aanjibimaadizing Executive Director Tammy Wickstrom sent out an update regarding WEX programming, youth programming, TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), and other services. For the complete update, click here.

Band Member Legal Aid Updates

Temporary contacts for Band Member Legal Aid are as follows:

Kerri Johnson: 320-232-7731 kerri.johnson@millelacsband.com
Alan Shepard: 320-232-7732 alan.sheppard@millelacsband.com
Peter Nickitas: 651-238-3445 peter.nickitas@millelacsband.com
Shannon Nayquonabe, Paralegal: 320-496-7159 shannon.nayquonabe2@millelacsband.com
Phone for criminal court contact: 612-280-9617
Phone for civil court contact: 320-630-2122

Power of Attorney/ Delegation of Parentage paperwork will need to be sent directly from the individual giving powers to the person receiving the powers. Our office will not be able to assist with this at this time.

Please contact the county/state court administrator before you head out to any court appearances. The courts have been rapidly rescheduling appearances. All notices will be mailed to your last known address.

Please check the Tribal Court webpage for any Tribal Court updates and appearance information.

Court Transport is NOT available until March 30, 2020 or when determined to be safe and the Government Center is reconvened at normal operation.

Elder Services Provides Meals for Elders

In a community effort to keep everyone safe and healthy, the Elder Services Program will package meals for Elders who regularly come to the dining site.

On Tuesday, Elders will be able to pick up three pre-packaged lunches. Staff will meet them at the front door. These meals are for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

On Friday, a package of 14 meals will be ready to pick up around noon. If you do not feel that you can pick them up, please notify Denise to schedule delivery. Please know that your patience is greatly appreciated and this is a solution that will help keep you, your family, and the larger community at less risk.

For those already on HOME DELIVERY:

• Mondays meal will be delivered.
• Tuesday you will receive 3 delivered meals.
• Friday you will receive 14 meals.

Any questions, please contact:
Denise Sargent, Elder Services Coordinator Direct: 320-532-7854
Doreen Mitchell Elder Services Program Assistant Direct: 320-532-7532

Nay Ah Shing Schools Delivering Meals to Students

Nay Ah Shing Schools, with tremendous support from Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures, will provide meals for K-12 students starting today, March 17, and continuing through the short term closure.

Delivery service is provided by Nay Ah Shing Transportation Department. Breakfast kits will be delivered with lunches starting this week as well, provided by Nay Ah Shing Nutrition department.

Cedar Available from DNR Cultural Resources

This week the Cultural Resources Team gathered giizhikaandag/giizhik (cedar) to be shared for those that may need it as we are faced with the growing COVID-19 virus in Minnesota. Giizhik has many benefits to promote healthy immune systems along with aiding illness. By ingesting giizhik aniibiish (tea), it may assist with digestion, fever, sore throat, cough, cold, bronchitis and pneumonia.

If you are able to gather and share giizhik with family members, please do so. If you are unable to gather giizhik, and would like to have some on hand, please contact one of the names below for assistance.

Daga miizh asamaa wii-nandomad awiya da-azhe-miinik mashkiki. Daga asemaakaw awiya da-naadimishkikiitamook. Please offer your tobacco for the medicines, people who harvested, families and communities. Miigwech!

D1: Dan Wind 320-364-9528, Todd Moilanen 320-515-1903
D2 East Lake: Daryl Aubid, Todd M. 320-515-1903
D2a: Todd M. 320-515-1903
D3: Vanessa Gibbs via Facebook messenger or Katie Draper 320-515-0846
Urban: Wahbon Spears 612-872-4265 or 612-360-5486

Grand Casino Announces Temporary Closure

Grand Casino announced a voluntary, temporary closure of casino operations at Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Grand Casino Hinckley starting at 4 p.m. on March 16 to help fight the spread of COVID-19. The initial plan is for a 14-day closure, but conditions will be reassessed before a firm reopen date is announced. While there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 at either property, Grand Casino sees this as a responsible, proactive decision that places the wellbeing of its Associates, Guests, and local communities at the forefront.

For the entire announcement, click here.

Tribal Government Reduces Staffing Levels

On March 16, the Tribal Emergency Response Committee (TERC) took action to protect the health of tribal government employees and the community as a whole by voluntarily reducing staffing levels at government buildings to critical staff only.

For the letter from the TERC and a list of critical staff and contact numbers, click here.

If you are experiencing any cold or flu symptoms, please call the Ne-Ia-Shing nurse hotline 320- 630-0855.

Early Education Program Closed Until Futher Notice

Effective March 17, the Mille Lacs Early Education Childcare, Early Head Start and Head Start will be closed until further notice. Food & Supply Boxes will be distributed to all Early Head Start and Head Start Families in Districts 1, 2 and 3. For information on deliveries, click here.

State of Emergency Declared

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin signed an Executive Order on Sunday, March 15, declaring that the Band is in a State of Emergency, while the Band Assembly — composed of Secretary/Treasurer Sheldon Body and District Representatives Sandra Blake, Marvin Bruneau, and Wally St. John —passed Ordinance 27-20, The Emergency Management Act, establishing Title 27 within the Mille Lacs Band Statutes Annotated. Title 27, which will be titled Emergency Management, gives the Chief Executive authority to carry out certain emergency measures necessary to ensure the health and well-being of Band Members.

Please click here for a letter to Band members from Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin and Secretary/Treasurer Sheldon Boyd.

Emergency Response Plan Being Developed

Band officials and staff worked around the clock March 15 and 16 to finalize implementation of the Band’s Emergency Response Plan to minimize the risk of COVID-19 spread in our Band community, and to ensure emergency preparedness in the event that COVID-19 reaches our community. Chief Executive Benjamin, Secretary-Treasurer Boyd and the Band Assembly are right now finalizing the plan which will be announced today on Facebook,and letters will be delivered to Band Member homes tomorrow, Monday, March 16. Please keep watch for those updates. A separate announcement regarding school closures will be shared shortly.

Nay Ah Shing Schools Will Be Closed Beginning Tuesday, March 17

Due to concerns regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus), beginning on Tuesday, March 17, the Band's K-12 programs in the Nay Ah Shing school system will close for two weeks with a plan of reopening on March 30. Daycare will remain open at this time. This follows suit with the Governor’s 10 a.m. announcement on Sunday, March 15, that all Minnesota and public and charter schools close for this period as well. Band educators and staff will also use this time to make plans for the possibility of needing to institute long-distance learning. Nay Ah Shing School’s priority remains the educational needs and health of students, staff and community. More detailed information will be shared with families early this week through the schools.

The last day of classes for Nay Ah Shing K-12 students will be Monday, March 16. Monday will begin with Pipe and Dish as usual, and then students will have classes and meet with their teachers to discuss these developments. Students will be bringing home their books and supplies to prepare for distance learning. This only impacts K-12 students in Nay Ah Shing School and Pine Grove Learning Academy. Again, there will be no K-12 classes beginning on Tuesday, March 17. Nay Ah Shing Schools appreciate the Band community's assistance with sharing this information with the caregivers of our K-12 students at Nay Ah Shing and Pine Grove. Miigwech.

Employee Update

Please click here for a March 15 update for employees from Commissioner of Administration Baabiitaw Boyd.

Emergency Response Committee Activated

On Saturday, March 14, the Mille Lacs Band's Tribal Emergency Response Committee (TERC) held an all-day special meeting to process new information on the coronavirus (COVID-19) and continue to plan for a potential outbreak to keep Band members as safe as possible.

The TERC will continue to meet regularly, and updates will be sent to all elected and appointed officials as the situation changes.

For more on the TERC, see below.

As of March 14, there are 21 confirmed cases of the virus in Minnesota but none in Mille Lacs Band communities. Cases have been confirmed in the following counties: Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Olmsted, Ramsey, Stearns and Wright. The Minnesota Department of Health reports that 868 tests have been conducted.

Band Member Update on COVID-19

Message from Early Education Department on Cancellation of Classes Monday, March 16, for Cleaning — Classes will resume March 17

Message from Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm

Cancellations:

ALL MILLE LACS BAND ACTIVITIES HAVE BEEN CANCELED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.

District II and III fisheries meetings scheduled for March 16 and 17 have been canceled.

Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College registration events scheduled for March 18 and 19 are canceled.

Ge-Niigaanizijig youth programming and events are canceled through March 27.

The Treaty Day events scheduled for March 19 and 20 have been postponed.

March sobriety feasts and community meetings have been canceled.

Nay Ah Shing and Pine Grove schools are closed beginning March 17.

The District 1 Community Center has cancelled all public events from now through the month of April. (Previously the gym was scheduled to remain open in the evenings in March, but that is no longer the case.)

The March Bi-wiidoopamishinaag elder gathering at Grand Makwa Cinema scheduled for March 18 has been canceled.

Early Education classes will be canceled on Monday, March 16, for deep cleaning of all facilities. Classes are scheduled to resume on Tuesday, March 17.

About the Tribal Emergency Response Committee

The Mille Lacs Band government has a designated committee charged with planning for situations like the Corona Virus outbreak and springing into action if needed: the Tribal Emergency Response Committee.

In 2000, the Band was one of five tribes from FEMA Region V to receive an initial startup grant to create a Tribal Emergency Management program. One of the key components of the grant was for the Band to create a unified decision-making body for incidents called a Tribal Emergency Response Committee (TERC).

The TERC responds to incidents that require efforts beyond normal day-to-day operations, such as a hazardous materials spill or severe weather damage.

Tribal leadership determined that the TERC should consist of Executive Branch Commissioners, a backup for each Commissioner, and representation from Tribal Police, Tribal Emergency Management, and Tribal Public Information Officers.

Since 2000 the TERC has participated in exercises to test their readiness ability, partnering with county, regional and state agencies. As membership has changed, new members have been mentored by seasoned TERC members with assistance from the Tribal Emergency Management Coordinator, Monte Fronk.

Helpful links:

CDC – COVID-19 Situation Summary
CDC – Coronavirus for Businesses
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/guidance-for-schools.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fspecific-groups%2Fguidance-for-schools.htmlCDC – Coronavirus for Schools
Bureau of Indian Education Statement