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Jones to attend State of the Union speech

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BEMIDJI — Carri Jones, chairwoman of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, will be at tonight’s State of the Union address by President Barack Obama in the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

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Jones will be the guest of U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan of Minnesota. Also as Nolan’s guest will be Melanie Benjamin, chief executive of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

“The Ojibwe people and their elected leaders here in the Eighth District are so important, and contribute so much to our economy, our culture, and our way of life here in northern Minnesota — I am honored to have Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin of the Mille Lacs Band and Tribal Chair Carri Jones of the Leech Lake Band as my guests for what is traditionally the most important annual address the President of the United States makes to the American people,” Nolan said in a press release.

At 33, Jones took office in 2012 as the first woman and youngest person ever to hold the elected position of Tribal Chair on the five-member Leech Lake Tribal Council. She is a graduate of Bemidji State University.

Benjamin began serving her second term as Chief Executive of the Mille Lacs Band in 2012.

Other guests of Minnesota’s congressional delegation include:

•Sen. Al Franken will host Erick Ajax, vice president and co-owner of E.J. Ajax and Sons, a Minneapolis-based metal-stamping company.

•Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s guest is Mayo Clinic CEO Dr. John Noseworthy.

•Rep. Tim Walz’s guest is Owatonna Mayor Tom Kuntz.

•Rep. John Kline will host Keith Anderson, vice chairman of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, which is the largest employer in Scott County.

•Rep. Erik Paulsen’s guest is Vednita Carter, founder and executive director of Breaking Free, a St. Paul-based group that helps women escape prostitution.

•Rep. Betty McCollum’s will host Clarence Hightower, who is the executive director of the Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties, an anti-poverty agency. Rep. Keith Ellison will host new Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges.

•Rep. Michele Bachmann’s guest is Dr. Julie Anderson, a family physician from St. Cloud.

•Rep. Collin Peterson will not bring a guest, and gave his pass to Nolan, who now has the two guests.

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