Marge Anderson is returning as chief executive of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
Anderson, who previously served as chief executive from 1991-2000, was the top vote-getter in a special election Dec. 16 for the position, which was open after former Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin was removed from office in October.
A spokeswoman for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe said Anderson was unavailable for comment Thursday.
Benjamin said she intended to file as a candidate for the election but was prohibited from doing so by a joint session of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Assembly despite meeting all criteria within the band's statutes and the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Constitution.
On Thursday she said she filed an appeal with the Court of Central Jurisdiction with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
"If they would have followed the law, yes, I would have been a candidate," Benjamin said. "That's what this is all about. They did not uphold the responsibility they swore to - to uphold the constitution."
On Sept. 29, a petition with 361 signatures was submitted to the Mille Lacs Band Assembly asking for the removal of Benjamin, citing ethical charges.
Benjamin filed an appeal with the court stating her removal from office in October wasn't legal because the court had issued a stay on removal proceedings.
Still, Benjamin said she wished Anderson good luck as the band's chief executive.
Anderson received a total of 302 votes, which was more than the 50 percent plus one majority, as set in band statutes, needed to win the election.
The vote totals were: Anderson, 302; Mushkoob, 83; Larry Nickaboine, 82; Wallace St. John Sr., 60; Pamela Pewaush, 35; Clifford Churchill, 11; Michael Aubid, 8; Lisa Jackson, 7; and Kirstie Davis Deyhle, 4.
There were 62 disqualified ballots not counted in the total figure. Ballots with write-in candidates are automatically disqualified according to Minnesota Chippewa Tribe election guidelines.
Anderson has served more than 20 years in the band's tribal government, including serving as District I representative from 1976-1987 and secretary/treasurer from 1987-1991. She was appointed chief executive in 1991 after Art Gahbow died while in office. She was elected to the post in 1992 and 1996.
She was honored as the 1997 Leader of the Year by the National Congress of American Indians. As chief executive, Anderson will lead the band's executive branch, which implements band laws and administers programs and services.
The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe is a self-governing, federally recognized Indian tribe with more than 4,000 enrolled members.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.
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