Rhonda Silence

Grand Portage Tribal Chair Beth Drost with community update

During the COVID-19 pandemic, WTIP Community Radio continues to speak with various community leaders on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. In this interview with Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Tribal Chair Beth Drost, we hear about what the shutdown of many services means to Grand Portage.
Chair Drost also notes that Grand Portage is in mourning over the loss of a young community member, Kyler Deschampe. A senior at Cook County High School, Kyler, touched many lives in Grand Portage and beyond.

A memorial/donation page has been established for Kyler’s family. Learn more here.

WTIP’s Rhonda Silence spoke with Drost about planning for the reopening the Grand Portage Lodge and Casino—although when that will happen is yet unknown. She said management of the lodge and casino will be called back first, to develop a plan to reopen in as safe a manner as possible. This is also impacted by the latest news from the Canadian government that it is not opening its border for travel for another month.

Drost said it is hoped that the Hat Point Marina rehabilitation and improvements will be able to continue, but she notes that the announcement from Isle Royale National Park that the park will be closed until at least mid-June 2020 has given the Grand Portage Band a bit more time to get the project underway.

Drost spoke about the Grand Portage Trust Lands wolf and moose studies. One of the benefits of being a small organization is that much of the research work is done solo on a regular basis. She said Trust Land staff continues to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Drost spoke about maple syruping, fishing and hunting as well. She said families are working together, collecting maple syrup. There is currently no hunting season underway, but tribal and Grand Portage descendent fishermen are on the lake, sharing their catch with community elders.

Others, including many young people are fishing at the mouths of local rivers and creeks. She said seeing those young men and women pursuing the traditions of their ancestors is very heartwarming.

The Grand Portage Tribal Council office has limited hours during this time, but anyone with questions or concerns may contact Chair Drost at 218-387-5802 or by email to BethD@grandportage.com.