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Mille Lacs Band elects new chief executive and more tribal election results

Virgil Wind is the chief executive of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe after the Tuesday, April 2, 2024, primary tribal elections.
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Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
Virgil Wind will be the new chief executive of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe after the Tuesday, April 2, 2024, primary tribal elections. Wind takes office in July.

Incumbents who ran again for chairperson on other reservations in Tuesday’s races will be moving on. All were the top vote-getters but failed to garner more than 50%.

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe has elected a new chief executive, according to official results from the Tuesday, April 2, tribal primary elections.

Virgil Wind earned 67% of the vote in the race, with Samuel Moose coming in second place among three candidates.

Wind is the current District 1 representative on the Band Assembly. Because he earned more than 50% of the vote in the primary election, Wind is the winning candidate and will not need to move on to a general election.

Current Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin announced earlier this year she would not seek reelection for a seventh term.

Valerie Sam-Harrington and Carolyn Beaulieu were the top two vote-getters to replace Wind in District 1.

Thousands of members of Minnesota Chippewa Tribes cast ballots, including in Leech Lake, White Earth, Bois Forte, Fond du Lac and Grand Portage.

Incumbents who ran again for chairperson in Tuesday’s races will be moving on. All were the top vote-getters but failed to garner more than 50%.

This includes White Earth Chairman Michael Fairbanks, who will face Eugene “Umsy” Tibbetts; Leech Lake Chairman Faron Jackson Sr., facing Gerald White; Fond du Lac Chair Kevin Dupuis Sr., against Bruce Savage; and Bois Forte Chair Catherine Shavers, facing a challenge from Hannah Lehti-Chosa.

Next up is the June 11 general election.

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Election results

Bois Forte Band of Chippewa

Chairperson

  • Catherine Chavers (incumbent) — 157 votes, 41%.
  • Hannah Lehti-Chosa — 125, 32%.
  • Brian L. Whiteman Sr. — 74, 19%.
  • Carlos Hernandez — 31, 8%.

District 1 Representative

  • Perry L. Drift — 78 votes, 32%.
  • Edward Villebrun — 55, 22%.
  • William G. Isham — 47, 19%.
  • Robbie Goggleye — 41, 17%.
  • David H. Villebrun Jr. — 24, 10%.

Source: Bois Forte Band of Chippewa Facebook post.

Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

Chairperson

  • Kevin R. DuPuis Sr. (incumbent) — 302 votes, 41.43%.
  • Bruce M. Savage — 281, 38.55%.
  • James Roy Blacketter Jr. — 74, 10.15%.
  • Victoria A. Smith — 51, 7%.
  • John A. McMillen — 21, 2.88%.

District 1 Committeeperson

  • Wally Dupuis (incumbent) — 215 votes, 47.88%.
  • Michelle Debolt — 84 votes, 18.71%.
  • Kami Diver — 66, 14.7%.
  • Valerie A. Whitebird — 53, 11.8%.
  • Juanita "Nucka" Anderson — 22, 4.9%.
  • David Petite Jr. — 9, 2%.

District 3 Committeeperson

  • Roger M. Smith Sr. (incumbent) — 50 votes, 32.47%.
  • Earl Otis — 45 votes, 29.22%.
  • Bryan "Bear" Bosto — 41, 26.62%.
  • Dawn M. LaPrairie — 15, 9.74%.
  • Debra Johnson-Fuller — 3, 1.95%.

Source: Fond du Lac Band Facebook post.

Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

Results unavailable.

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe

Chairman

  • Faron Jackson Sr. (incumbent) — 580 votes, 36.87%.
  • Gerald White — 297, 18.88%.
  • Terri Finn-Goggleye — 240, 15.26%.
  • Michael Reyes — 156, 9.92%.
  • Walter "Frank" Reese — 139, 8.84%.
  • Dawn Litzau-Staples — 68, 4.32%.
  • Branden Bowstring — 64 votes, 4.07%.
  • Tami Jackson — 12, 0.76%.
  • Calvin Howard — 9, 0.57%.
  • Raymond "Skip" Lyons — 8, 0.51%.

District 3 Representative

  • Leon Staples Jr. — 270 votes, 25%.
  • Glen "Tuffy" Fisher — 203, 18.8%.
  • Donald "Mick" Finn — 152, 14.07%.
  • Jennie Reyes — 102, 9.44%.
  • Kari Fisherman — 100, 9.26%.
  • Delmar Jones III — 80, 7.41%.
  • Kyle Fairbanks Sr. — 78, 7.22%.
  • Hershel Ogema — 28, 2.59%.
  • Thomas Brown — 19, 1.76%.
  • Julian Molash — 16, 1.48%.
  • Diane Osceola — 14, 1.3%.
  • Peter "Big Pete" Jackson — 11, 1.3%.
  • John Johnson — 7, 0.65%.

Source: Leech Lake News.

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe

Chief Executive

  • Virgil Otis Wind — 667 votes, 67.44%.
  • Samuel Archie Moose — 303, 30.64%.
  • Wallace Ervin St. John Sr. — 19, 1.92%.

District 1 Representative

  • Valerie Charissa Sam-Harrington — 179 votes, 28.32%.
  • Carolyn Marie Beaulieu — 176, 27.85%.
  • Curtis Leroy Kalk — 94, 14.87%.
  • Megan Ann Ballinger — 68, 10.76%.
  • Melissa Marie Boyd — 68, 10.76%.
  • Billie Jo Boyd — 47, 7.44%.

Source: Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Facebook post.

White Earth Nation

  • Michael A. Fairbanks (incumbent) — 658 votes, 46.21%.
  • Eugene "Umsy" Tibbetts — 605, 42.49%.
  • Donovan G. Burnette — 140, 9.83%.
  • Karen Marie Manypenny — 21, 1.47%.

Source: White Earth Nation Facebook post.