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Red Lake Nation: Chairman presents State of the Band Address

RED LAKE -- The Red Lake Band of Chippewa accomplished many goals in 2009, and tribal government has set high aspirations for 2010.

That was the message Red Lake Chairman Floyd Jourdain Jr. presented Friday in his State of the Band Address.

"I'm happy to report to the Red Lake members the tribe is doing well," Jourdain said.

Band members filled the Red Lake Humanities Center for the event, including busloads of enrollees from the Twin Cities and Duluth. Veterans, royalty, Tribal Council members and hereditary chiefs process following Vietnam veterans Jim Loud and Earl Fairbanks carrying the eagle staffs. Red Lake Singers offered honor songs. And Larry Stillday gave the opening prayer.

Prior to the speech and feast, organization, government and Red Lake program representatives set up trade show booths around the perimeter of the meeting area.

In his speech, Jourdain said Red Lake is known throughout Indian Country as one of the most progressive bands, and the Red Lake Nation continues to improve in safety, cleanliness and quality of life.

"We are currently investing in the future of our people," he said. Gaming continues as a strong economic base, he said, with 2009 the fifth record year for gaming income. The three Seven Clans casinos employ 912 people. The new casino-hotel complex that opened in December south of the town of Red Lake drew 3,000 new customers to the gaming club, which Jourdain described as "the nicest little casino in the Midwest." The new casino added 98 new jobs and was finished on time and under budget.

Infrastructure improvements in 2009 included 23.5 miles of resurfaced roads, 18.5 miles of water and sewer lines, completion of the Forest Development Center, a new water tower, Red Lake Justice Center and Juvenile Justice Center, a new roundhouse in Little Rock, an elderly nutrition center in Ponemah and about 50 new houses built for Red Lake members.

Challenges and goals for 2010, Jourdain cited, include a community center to house a Boys & Girls Club and Head Start in Ponemah, upgrades for the Jourdain-Perpich Nursing Home, an addition of roads and bridge repairs, two new convenience stores, two new basketball courts, a skate park and bicycle and walking trails between Red Lake and Redby and south along state Highway 89. He said an Elders' Summit is also planned for the summer at the Red Lake Seven Clans Casino.

Jourdain received applause when he announced that the band also started its own propane company, Red Lake Nation Fuel, to provide affordable energy to members.

"We went into business for ourselves and we look forward to doing business for you," Jourdain said.

Jourdain's announcement of the plan to build a fish bypass to allow fish that swim out of the lake to swim back in also drew applause.

"After the completion of this project, they will be able to make their way back home to our Red Lake," Jourdain said.