Native News

Minnesota Chippewa Tribe voters head to the polls to determine next phase of leadership

A birds-eye view of tribal land
Minnesota Chippewa Tribe voters head to the polls Tuesday, including the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe pictured below.
Ben Hovland | MPR News

Minnesota Chippewa Tribe voters head to the polls Tuesday to elect leadership across the six member nations. The MCT consists of six reservation business committees from the seven Ojibwe tribes sharing geography with Minnesota. 

Voters will have the opportunity to elect several offices, depending on the tribe. Tribal leaders make decisions on topics related to regional and state politics, including cannabis dispensaries and grow facilities and the restoration of tribal lands. 

The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe was among the most recent MCT member nations to open a dispensary. Tribes in Minnesota are among the first to open dispensaries across the state. 

 A provision in an environment and natural resources bill passed during the most recent state legislative session will return the title to 18 acres of land to the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. The band had sought for several decades to have the land returned. 

Each member tribe, except the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, will elect a chairperson Tuesday. The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe elected their new chairperson in April, after Virgil Wind won the three-person primary race with over 67 percent of the vote. Wind won the election under an MCT provision which holds that a candidate who receives more than 50 percent of the vote in primary wins the race. MCT primaries took place in early this past April.  

The Grand Portage Band’s chairperson is running unopposed.  

In addition to the chairperson, voters from several of MCT member nations will also elect candidates to district representatives and committeeperson offices. 

Results will be certified later this week and published by the MCT’s General Reservation Election Board. 

Polls are open until 8pm at various sites both on and off reservations.

The following are the winners of MCT primary races. Incumbent candidates have “(I)” designation. 

Bois Forte Band of Chippewa Indians 

Chairperson 

  • Catherine Chavers (I) — 40.72 percent 

  • Hannah Lehti-Chosa — 32.22 percent 

District 1 Representative 

  • Perry Drift — 31.45 percent 

  • Edward Villebrun — 22.18 percent 

Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa 

Chairperson 

  • Kevin DuPuis, Sr. (I) — 41.43 percent 

  • Bruce Savage — 38.55 percent 

District 1 Committeeperson 

  • Wally Dupuis (I) — 47.88 percent 

  • Michelle DeBolt — 18.71 percent 

District 3 Committeeperson 

  • Robert Smith, Sr. (I) — 32.47 percent 

  • Earl Otis — 29.22 percent

Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa 

Chairperson 

  • No primary race 

Committeeperson 

  • Marie Spry (I) — 47.79 percent 

  • William Myers — 31.62 percent 

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe 

Chairman 

  • Faron Jackson (I) — 36.87 percent 

  • Gerald White — 18.88 percent 

District 3 Representative 

  • Leon Staples, Jr. — 25 percent 

  • Glen Fisher — 18.80 percent 

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe 

Chief Executive 

  • Virgil Wind — 67.44 percent (Winner, with more than 50 percent of the primary vote) 

  • Samuel Moose — 30.64 percent 

District 1 Representative 

  • Valerie Sam-Harrington — 28.32 percent 

  • Carolyn Beaulieu — 27.85 percent 

White Earth Nation 

Chairperson 

  • Michael Fairbanks (I) — 46.21 percent 

  • Eugene “Umsy” Tibbets — 42.49 percent 

Election winners will assume office in July. 

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