Red Lake Focuses On Unity At Annual State Of The Band Address
“Let’s be kind to one another, love one another, because it’s not the way of life as Anishinaabe people,” says Red Lake Chairman Darrell Seki, Sr.
From infrastructure projects to potential policy changes, there were many topics addressed at today’s Red Lake State Of The Band address.
“We talked about legalizing marijuana. We talked about environmental justice issues such as the Line 3 replacement project and how it’s going to impact us and having our people provide input to make sure our decisions are really in-line with what the people want,” says Red Lake Secretary Sam Strong.
During his speech, Chairman Seki, Sr. spoke about things like reclaiming land, creating more jobs, improving communication with members and making the reservation a safer place to live. He noted that while drug problems have been declining, the opioid epidemic is still a big hurdle.
“The bottom line is they’re poisoning our membership, because that’s the other thing I always talk about is incarceration doesn’t work. We’ve got to help them heal,” says Seki, Sr.
The Chairman also went into length about the impact of the government shutdown. He says officials had to be creative to ensure people didn’t get laid off. This was something guest Minnesota Senator Tina Smith says really resonated with her.
Smith says, “I was really glad to Chairmen Seki speak out against that, and I am co-sponsor of legislation that would make sure that tribal nations have advanced funding for their most important projects so that they don’t have to deal with what the Red Lake Band needed to deal with this year, which was to not have the money to carry on really essential functions.”
Moving forward, Red Lake Nation says they are putting the people first. Chairman Seki, Sr. says he has an open door policy and anyone is welcome to give their thoughts.
“I just want to be a friend to everybody, and my door is open for them even if they don’t like me or are against me. If they ever need help, I wouldn’t turn them down,” says Seki Sr.
Some of the new infrastructure projects include new senior housing and continuing work on a chemical dependency center and a new dialysis center.
Senator Smith also stopped today at the Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig school in Cass Lake and at Bemidji State University.