Grand Portage Tribal Council hosts first-ever State of the Band gathering
The Grand Portage Band held its first-ever State of the Band event on Monday, February 3. The gathering included a closed session for enrolled members of the Grand Portage Band, followed by a presentation open to the broader community.
The event kicked off with drum song by Grand Portage’s Stonebridge Singers. The Grand Portage American Legion Honor Guard carried in the flags and staffs and an invocation was given.
Speakers included Tribal Committeeperson Rick Anderson who spoke of the importance of remembering the history of Grand Portage and the tough times that the community has overcome. He added that Grand Portage was making history be live-streaming the State of the Band gathering online.
Councilman Anderson also spoke of the 55,000 acres under Grand Portage’s stewardship and the importance of caring for those natural resources. He said it is important for Grand Portage to continue to care for Mother Earth and noted that it is the work of Grand Portage Trust Lands.
He introduced Trust Land Manager Tony Swader, who spoke on the work of Trust Lands, which cares for the land, the roads, wildlife, and the water. Swader gave a brief description of the work of Trust Lands, including the upcoming Hat Point Marina project, upcoming culvert replacements, fish stocking, continued timber harvest planning, wolf and moose studies and more. He spoke on Trust Land work with Cook County and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Swader also said Trust Lands is working to get more youth involved in natural resource matters. He said it is important to involve youth as they are the future of the Band.
Committeeman Anderson gave a “huge miigwetch” to Swader and the staff at Trust Lands for all of their very important work.
Anderson said it was his great honor to introduce Tribal Chairwoman Beth Drost. Chairwoman Drost gave a welcome in Ojibwe and thanked all for coming and shared the first State of the Band message. She said she hoped this is the first of many gatherings to share the hopes of the Grand Portage community.
Drost expressed her gratitude to Tribal staff members who help the Tribal Council do its job. She said she appreciates their hard work and respectful feedback.
Drost said it has been a tough year. She said the State of the Band falls just a few days from the anniversary of the passing of longtime Tribal Chair Norman Deschampe. She said his legacy lives on—in the buildings that were built during his time, in the legislation he developed and brought forward, and in his beautiful family. She said his legacy echoes throughout Indian Country.
Drost noted that in the past year, it seems many elders walked on. She asked for a moment to remember them.
Drost said there is pain in the loss, but again, she said they are remembered and the leadership they shared lives on.
As Swader did, Drost spoke of the connections with other governments. She spoke of the strides forward in the work with the State of Minnesota, on issues such as mining and education. She said it is important to be involved in the discussions, along with Tribal leaders across the state.
She encouraged community involvement in many ways, from those major sovereign government issues to small, but meaningful things like this year’s Halloween carnival. She encouraged all to work toward positive change.
WTIP Community Radio spoke with Grand Portage Tribal Chair Beth Drost to learn more about the event.