Schlender Makes Presentation at Mille Lacs 20-Year Celebration
By Joe Morey
On March 21, 2019, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe held a celebration in recognition of the 20-year anniversary of the historic Mille Lacs decision in the U.S. Supreme Court that upheld the tribe’s treaty rights. The court ruled 5-4 in favor of the Band.
LCO Vice Chairman Jason Schlender was asked to make a presentation at the celebration discussing the influence that the Mille Lacs case had on the culture and language revitalization movement in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.
“My presentation was called ‘Gaa-Pazagwadininjig: The Ones That Are Stood Up’ which focused on the cultural renaissance in Ojibwe communities that were signatories to the 1837 Treaty with the United States,” explained Schlender. “I highlighted the advancements with different tribes with assertion of tribal sovereignty and treaty rights with more youth being active in harvesting and other efforts in education, language and culture revitalization.”
Schlender said there were booths set up at the celebration that showcased other activities like decoy making, hemp production, medicinal plant identification and use, and a booth which focused on the historical and legal impact of the Supreme Court decision.
“I also reflected on different events like the Waabanong Run which was the 18-day run/walk which was done to raise awareness of the court case and the legal struggle of the Ojibwe tribes. I also talked about the events that GLIFWC does to educate and heal people like the Sandy Lake paddle, and the Healing Circle Run which have inspired other bands to conduct Smudge Walks and other cultural and communal events to combat the Opioid epidemic in Ojibwe country.”
Mille Lacs Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin said of the Supreme Court case, “March 24, 1999 is a date the Band will never forget. On this day, we are reminded of our courageous leaders who fought this battle all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, showing generations to come that our tribal sovereignty and inherent rights must never be compromised. Twenty years later, Mille Lacs Band members proudly exercise our treaty rights and we will continue to teach our youth our traditional ways for many years to come.”