Bois Forte Band plans fire department, Twin Cities office

Tower, Minnesota (AP) 2-08

Establishing its own fire department and opening a support office in the Twin Cities are among several new projects the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa has planned for 2008, Chairman Kevin Leecy said during his State of the Band address.

The fire department is becoming a reality with the help of a $1 million donation from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

And the support office in the Twin Cities will help the 560 Bois Forte members who live there, officials said.

“A lot of band members are eligible for programs for assistance. But they are 300 miles away and disconnected. We need to connect with them better,” said Barbara Brodeen, executive director of the band, which has 3,200 members.

Leecy said regular meetings will also be held for off-reservation band members in the Twin Cities, Duluth, International Falls and Bemidji.

During his recent speech, Leecy touted the tribe’s financial portfolio, which includes cash revenues as well as real estate and business investments. Not long ago, he said, such a report would have focused solely on gaming.

“Thanks to our economic diversification efforts, our financial portfolio is now intricate and multilayered,” Leecy said.

In addition to the fire department and Twin Cities office, Leecy said the band plans a new tribal government services building and community center, more apartments for band members in Nett Lake and Vermilion and the completion of a biomass feasibility study.