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Red Lake Nation Hereditary Chief George "Billy" King, left, administers the oath of office to Chairman Floyd "Buck" Jourdain Jr. as newly elected Secretary Don Cook, right, waits to be sworn in. Pioneer Photo/Molly Miron

Red Lake Band of Chippewa: Newly elected tribal council members sworn in

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

The Red Lake Band of Chippewa inaugurated four district representatives and a chairman, secretary and treasurer Tuesday.

The tribal council unanimously accepted the results of the July 28 run-off election. The tribal council also acknowledged the services of outgoing Secretary Kathryn "Jody" Beaulieu, Red Lake Representative Donald "Don Dez" Desjarlait and Redby Representative Thomas "Jambi" Westbrook with plaques and Pendleton blanket gifts.

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Following an honor song by the Red Lake Singers, Hereditary Chief George "Billy" King took the oaths of office from re-elected Chairman Floyd Jourdain Jr. and Treasurer Darrell Seki Sr., as well as newly elected Secretary Donald Cook, Red Lake Representative Roman "Ducker" Stately, Little Rock Representative William "Billy" Greene, Redby Representative Julius "Toady" Thunder and Ponemah Representative Gary Nelson.

Jourdain expressed appreciation to all the candidates saying, "Every person who files for office ... does so with a good heart, a good intent."

He acknowledge that elected office requires of successful candidates hard work and willingness to give of their time to the people they represent. However, he said the pay-offs are seeing the improvements in the representatives' districts.

"We have witnessed progress in the last four years, and I hope we keep it that way," said Stillday at the conclusion to his opening prayers.

Jourdain said Red Lake members have their aboriginal homeland intact, a fact that sets them apart from other tribes. However, he said the Red Lake Chippewa have lost much of their traditional culture, which they must work with elders to regain.

Jourdain said goals for the next term include reclaiming land and the entire Red Lake and, he said Red Lake will become a wolf sanctuary no matter what change in status the state or federal governments might make.

"Protect our wolf brothers," he said.

Jourdain also said there has to be more emphasis in protecting the land and water from degradation and damage.

"Respect our Earth Mother," he said.

Education is also a priority, he said, to ensure that Red Lake students can compete, improve test scores and learn the traditional culture and language. The tribal council voted to make Ojibwe the official language of the Red Lake Nation, and immersion programs have started for Ponemah and Red Lake Head Start students.

Jourdain, who studies Ojibwe himself and tries to use it as much as possible, said reviving the language has personal implications. "Three of my grandparents were fluent speakers, and I can't speak my language," he said.

Also on the agenda are new powwow grounds, a new government center and diversifying the economy beyond gaming and incorporating more Anishinaabe values in the government.

"It's going to be a good four years," he concluded.

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