As a kid, my dad and I would visit the family homestead in southeastern Koochiching County. His dad was a Ukrainian Immigrant and his mother was from Czechoslovakia.

We hung out with the neighbor kids whose dads were German brothers that married sisters from the Net Lake Band; north of grandpa’s homestead. We put up hay each summer, ran around in the woods and caught minnows. My mom’s dad was an Irish immigrant and her mom was from Sweden, he was a fisherman on Milacs, died at a young age and left grandma to raise a family of five as a single parent.

As a kid growing up in International Falls, we played baseball, football, hockey, kick-the-can and tag, and were told to come home at dark after spending the day outside at a lot of different houses with a lot of different kids.

In college, I made friends with an exchange student from Nigeria -- a great guy from Brooklyn -- who introduced me to many on the NDSU football and basketball teams, as my friend was a gifted defensive back.

While in college, my niece and nephew arrived on the scene; their grandpa was the last born into the tribe Chief of the Manitou band in Emo, Canada. I met my wife’s extended family of Italian and Irish immigrants and their family. My wife’s cousin’s son received a music scholarship to BSU, where he performed and got to travel to China. We attended his performances, helped him financially and catered his wedding at Kohl’s resort. The BSU jazz band played at the reception. His dad was African American.

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I began a business relationship with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe many, many years ago. I provided architectural services for the Veteran’s Memorial Powwow grounds, government center, facilities center, hundreds of homes and more. I spent time traveling to inspections at virtually every corner of the Leech Lake Tribal lands with employees of the Housing Authority, whom I trust and I’m quite sure, trust me.

I have attended State of the Band Addresses and listened to their plans for the future.

I have been a part of this community for over 30 years, earning a living and giving back whenever possible.

Recently I have been called names. You can call me what you want, but I call this my life, my friends and my family.

Jim Lucachick, Bemidji, is a Beltrami County Commissioner for District 5.