Bois Forte band of Chippewa plan new initiatives

Tower, Minnesota (AP) 1-09

The Bois Forte Band of Chippewa is planning some major projects this year, including building a $10 million community and government services center at Nett Lake.

In his State of the Band address, Bois Forte Tribal Chairman Kevin Leecy also announced the band will launch a loan program to assist band members and participate in a cooperative tribal center in Minneapolis.

Leecy said that gambling revenue at Fortune Bay Resort Casino remains the “main revenue producer” for the band. While gaming on American Indian reservations and at places such as Las Vegas took a hit in 2008, Fortune Bay had a 5 percent increase, he said.

Band officials say diversified investment in economic development in previous years, such as The Wilderness Golf Course and WELY Radio in Ely, has helped generate the revenue for new ventures, such as the planned government services building.


In his speech, Leecy said the center also will have space for a credit union or bank branch. The project will also tap into more energy-efficient techniques, such as geothermal or solar technologies.

The Bois Forte Tribal Council has directed that the loan program to help band members deal with current tough economic times be in place sometime in April. Loans will be up to $1,200 with a reasonable, competitive rates and terms. The loans will be administered through a local bank and backed by the tribal government.

“Our hope is that the loan program will help set up individuals for future credit stability and assist those that need to rebuild their credit ratings, so the program will also include credit and financial classes and counseling,” Leecy said.

Last year Leecy announced that Bois Forte would open an Urban Office on Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis to better connect with tribal members living in the Twin Cities. That outreach effort will now expand to other bands.

Despite economic downturns, Leecy said it’s important to continue investment into the Bois Forte community. He said job creation, combined with reinvestment in the community, “translates into employment that brings food to our tables and provides programs and services to our citizens.”

Leecy has been tribal chairman since 2004.