ONAMIA -- Salena LaGuard, a Mille Lacs Band member who's pursuing a college degree in law enforcement, was named the first recipient of the James L. Oberstar-Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Scholarship Monday afternoon at Grand Casino Mille Lacs.
She was described by Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin as an excellent student and a role model for children. LaGuard, the mother of two children, worked in the Grand Casino Mille Lacs gift shop and in other jobs there before pursuing her degree. She's currently a student at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in Cloquet.
The scholarship was named in honor of Oberstar, Benjamin said, because he's been a strong advocate for Indians. He has represented the Mille Lacs Reservation since 1974. She said Oberstar gets things done and builds bridges, "not just those we drive upon but ... between cultures."
Oberstar expressed thanks for the honor and noted the importance of honoring Indian treaties. He mentioned the progress that was made since Indians have used gaming as a tool of self-determination. Positive signs he spoke of included a decrease in general assistance use and improvements in water, sewer and housing.
"Until gaming, other attempts at self-reliance were unsuccessful," he said.
The scholarship is $4,000 per academic year.
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