In the 29th annual State of the Band address to the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Indians, Chief Executive Officer Melanie Benjamin outlined for its 1,200 members at the Grand Casino Mille Lacs a new vision that includes moving away from reliance on gambling to pursue other investments.
This is huge. Tribal gambling throughout the state and the rest of the nation has been the backbone of a resurgence for America’s aboriginal people. Many Ojibwe bands in Minnesota used gambling as a means of pulling themselves up by the bootstraps. Most bands have invested wisely in hotels, golf courses, health care for band members, and other programs that target members of the band overall.
Under the leadership of Benjamin, Mille Lacs is making a move. While their casinos, hotels, golf courses and other operations at Mille Lacs and Hinckley have been profitable, the leadership of the band is capitalizing on the skills they have developed in operating hotel services. It was announced by the CEO that two St. Paul hotels, a small commercial printing business in Hinckley as well as other economic developments are on the drawing boards.
In addition to venturing out into other business opportunities, the band is seeking to tighten up its current operations. Benjamin put it this way, “We will run a fine-toothed comb through our governmental budget to identify unnecessary spending or waste.” Maybe when she’s done with the band’s financials she could offer our state and federal government some help in doing the same close examination of waste at both levels.
Benjamin, and the band as a whole, are to be commended for their successes. They have been and, judging from the plan laid out earlier this week, will continue to be a great example of building on success.