Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin signed Executive Order 2020-05 yesterday issuing a “stay at home” order for all tribal members living within the Mille Lacs Band Reservation and on federal trust lands under the Band’s jurisdiction.

After consultation with the Band’s legislative branch, which earlier in the day passed swift legislation authorization the order, Benjamin signed the order in a unified Band effort to protect the health and safety of Band Members while aligning with Governor Walz’s effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. The stay at home order goes into effect simultaneously with Governor Walz’s own executive order urging all Minnesotans to shelter in place for two weeks beginning Friday, March 27 at 11:59 p.m.

According to the order, “all persons enrolled with the Non-Removable Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa Indians or any other federally recognized tribe residing within the territorial jurisdiction of the Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa Indians are ordered to stay at home or place of residence…” unless engaging in certain permitted activities.

Some of those essential activities include getting food and essential items to family or household members and pets, engaging in activities essential for health and safety such as seeking medical or behavioral health or emergency services and obtaining medical supplies or medication, caring for a family member, friend, or pet in another household or residence, or to transport them to essential health and safety activities, and engaging in outdoor exercise activities, such as walking, hiking, running or biking, but only if appropriate social distancing practices are used.

“COVID-19 poses a real and significant threat to Band members, as so many of our elders and also our younger people have underlying health conditions that put them at high risk,” Benjamin said. “The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe is doing our part to help slow the spread of this disease by encouraging all residents of the reservation to stay at home. Doing so will help slow the spread and provide our medical professionals and facilities time they need to prepare and fight this epidemic for the benefit of us all.”

The executive order does not limit the rights of individuals to engage in ceremonial or religious activities nor does it impact gathering and harvesting food and medicines for traditional purposes.

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