After leaving the reservation in 1984 to pursue education, I gravitated towards finding ways to counter the accompanying pitfalls of reservation life that has taken so many of our people. This required a careful analysis of identifying why in Indian country our efforts sometimes seem fruitless. I discovered that systemic change was in order. The approaches we have adopted over time work on people’s problems, but sometimes perpetuate a cycle that keeps them coming back. I didn’t realize this until I educated myself of systemic change. For years I grew frustrated trying to help people, and yet, many of them still fell victim to addictions, violence, poverty, and institutions.
Over the years, I learned to lead and mobilize efforts to address social problems. From tribal leaders, public safety, public health, mental health, and cultural leaders, we have the tools and people to make a difference. Some of this requires bold action, while other efforts rely on engaging the community to play their part. Tribal governments can’t solve everybody’s problems, but they can bring resources, Provide leadership, and manage in a way that makes a difference.
Our clan systems of old were structured in a way that everybody played a role in caring for community. Everybody contributed something, and everybody was valued for what they brought. One could not succeed without the other. Like the medicine wheel, all things are considered and all points were valid.
I have ten years of tribal government and administration experience managing one of the largest tribes in the country. We have overcome adversity time and time again, and we will overcome the ones we are currently facing. It will take courage, persistence, teamwork and a solid plan. I have a plan to address the opiate epidemic and other social problems
I am ready to do the work.
Leadership – Sovereignty
The Red Lake Nation has a storied past. From traditional clan structures, to a system of Chiefs, and headman, to elected leadership, we have always had strong leadership grounded in tribal sovereignty. To us sovereignty is the cornerstone of our existence. Sovereignty has many definitions, but to the Red Lake people, it means the ability to be free, to self-govern, and determine our own way of life.
The protection and preservation of our lands, and resources is at the center of our vision. Without this, we have no leadership. Our ancestors wanted our lakes, and lands to be held in common, because once the land is gone, we will never get it back. We are fortunate to still have a place to call home, and it belongs exclusively to us.
This is why it is absolutely crucial that we choose leaders who have an indigenous world view that see’s beyond merely making money, or seeking the next big economic venture. These things are essential to our success, but not at the expense of our homelands. Without our lands, and sovereign status, we cease to exist as a strong sovereign Indian nation.
As a student of traditional and modern governing, I will incorporate our customs, and Indigenous knowledge in to our current systems in order to restore balance and harmony. Our beautiful tribal nation will be protected and preserved for all band members. We will always have a place to call home.
I want to use many years of experience in tribal governance, leadership, and administration to move the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians in a direction that preserves our sovereignty, traditions, and lands for future generations. At one time, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians was one of the most prominent tribes in the country. We can once again rise to that level of prominence, but we need strong leadership in the Chairman’s office before that will happen.
Throughout my career I have made a concerted effort to stay grounded in the grassroots community. I am a social person who enjoys getting out among the people, visiting and supporting events sponsored by community organizers and organizations. My professional career before and after tribal politics has centered on human service, culture, education, and community service. I am a huge supporter of education, and economic opportunity for band members. My platform is molded by your voices. The issues are many, but I would not know the issues if I did not interact with you and listen to your concerns. Plus, I enjoy attending events that showcase our students, pride in our culture, and the knowledge of our elders.
I once visited a young man who was shooting baskets at a broken down hoop in one of our reservation communities. As he kicked broken glass off the court so he could dribble the ball, I assured him that if I ever made it to office, I would make a difference that he could see every day. He was not a voter, and I didn’t care. I only wanted to improve his situation. After I was sworn into office, new basketball courts were constructed in reservation communities. Had I not taken the time to stop there that day, and listen to him, this might not have happened.
Cleaner communities, and natural environments are something that we all need. Safer communities, and improved housing conditions are attainable. Community events that bring people together in environments that promote unity, not division are essential to who we are as Red Lake Nation anishinaabeg.
I look forward to seeing you in the community.