Red Lake Band Of Chippewa: Chairman Jourdain presents State of the Band Address
RED LAKE -- The Red Lake Nation faces many challenges, but the state of the band is strong financially with a growing population.
"Overall, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians is doing well," said Chairman Floyd "Buck" Jourdain Jr. during his State of the Band Address Friday morning at the Humanities Center.
Opening with honor songs and a procession of the Red Lake Honor Guard -- veterans Rocky Cook, Jim Loud, Spencer Whitefeather, Duane Columbus, Jerome Strong, Earl Fairbanks, Ron Fairbanks, Johnny Baird and Kevin Rosebear - and an invocation by Eugene Stillday, the State of the Band Address highlighted the accomplishments of 2010 and plans for 2011.
Jourdain said the population of the band has topped 10,500 with applications for enrollment coming regularly before the Tribal Council.
He also cited action the Tribal Council has taken in the last year to improve conditions for members.
Finances are good enough for an allotment of $200 per member prior to the holidays, not a large amount, Jourdain said, but money that can help families.
The Rainy Day Fund has more than $1 million in reserve, Red Lake Gaming has established a small business loan fund of $300,000 and the Economic Development Department will help entrepreneur members set up business plans. Red Lake has hired Blue Earth Consulting to help tribal businesses improve performance.
He said Red Lake Gaming reported its sixth consecutive record revenue year, Jourdain said, and the Minnesota Business Journal gave the Red Lake Seven Clans Casino, which also features a 40-room hotel and large event center, its Top Casino Award. The three tribal casinos employ 933 people, with 81 percent band member employees in Red Lake, 62 percent in Thief River Falls and 16 percent in Warroad.
Jourdain also touched on the 20 new housing units constructed in 2010 and improvement in public safety.
There is a new law enforcement substation in Ponemah and new computer tracking systems in the Red Lake Police squad cars. Child abuse incidents went down 41 percent and drug investigation increased by 38 percent.
"We're starting to see some improvement with the Public Safety Department, miigwech," Jourdain said.
The Red Lake Hospital's grand opening of an 18.500-square-foot addition constructed by Red Lake Builders last year has meant a 23 percent increase in service and the availability of same-day appointments, he said.
The Red Lake Fuels gas station and convenience store next door to the Seven Clans Casino on the south reservation border opened this month and is unique in that it features fresh Red Lake walleye, and syrups, jams and wild rice products from Red Lake Foods.
Another new business in the last 12 months is the establishment of Red Lake Propane, which now has 263 residential and 43 commercial customers.
"The company's off to a great start - we're extremely excited about having our own company," Jourdain said. "Other Minnesota tribes are enquiring about our business now."
Jourdain said the Red Lake Urban Embassies also received a boost in 2010 with a new office established in Minneapolis and the relocation of the Duluth office. Three buses of Red Lake members from those cities attended the State of the Band Address Friday.
Jourdain also projected plans for 2011.
These include the new Ponemah Community Center to open this year. The building will be powered by solar energy and heated and cooled by geothermal systems.
"This green construction represents a new era of building," he said. "Congratulations to the Ponemah community."
New Beginnings School in Redby plans its first GED graduation ceremony this year, Jourdain said. He hopes the tribe can reopen the home manufacturing facility in Redby, too.
And plans are underway to build a new Red Lake Nation College and Tribal Office near the powwow grounds in the town of Red Lake. Another project is to establish a public library.
"This should be a good year," Jourdain said.