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Beltrami County, Red Lake Nation earn national recognition for Red Lake Initiative

The Red Lake Tribal Initiative, now named Ombimindwaa Gidinawemaaganinaadog or “Uplifting our Relatives,” was specifically recognized for its child welfare and social service efforts.

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RED LAKE — The National Association of Counties recently awarded Beltrami County and Red Lake Nation an Achievement Award, which honors innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents.

The Red Lake Tribal Initiative, now named Ombimindwaa Gidinawemaaganinaadog or “Uplifting our Relatives,” was specifically recognized for its child welfare and social service efforts.

“In 2015, several leaders looked toward a new way of thinking that tailored and improved services to the Red Lake Nation,” a release said. “Innovations focused on establishing a comprehensive understanding of what tribal needs were, evaluating how cultural services could be expanded, addressing how to honor and respect tribal sovereignty and elevating access to services to tribal members.”

Ombimindwaa Gidinawemaaganinaadog Executive Director Cheri Goodwin credited the initiative’s Anishinaabeg practice model as a key component in the partnership developed with Beltrami County in becoming an American Indian Child Welfare Initiative Tribe.

“The successful transition of cases from the county to Red Lake highlights what can be accomplished when we work collectively toward a common goal,” Goodwin said in the release.

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The initiative took effect Jan. 1, 2021 and on May 10, a groundbreaking was held to kick off construction of an expanded cultural and social services facility made possible, in part, by the initiative.

“This is a profound accomplishment that all in our community can celebrate,” Beltrami County Administrator Tom Barry said in a release. “It is an achievement of monumental proportions that affirms that when officials at the federal, state, tribal and local levels of government put the interests of those they serve first, incredible things can happen.”

Nationally, awards are given in 18 different categories that reflect the comprehensive services counties provide. Categories include children and youth, criminal justice and public safety, county administration, information technology, health, civic engagement and many more.

The National Association of Counties first began recognizing county government innovations in 1970 with each county nominee being judged on its own merits and not against other applications that are received.

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