Mille Lacs donations benefit region

20 February 2010

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe donated more than $513,000 in cash and in-kind contributions to community programs in Minnesota and nationwide in 2009, according to tribal officials. The contributions went to 44 of Minnesota’s 67 counties, and two Wisconsin counties that border on Mille Lacs’ tribal lands.

Michael Garrow, Commissioner of Corporate Affairs for the Mille Lacs Band, said in a February 19 news release that the tribe is “committed to supporting organizations and causes that sustain our region and enrich the lives of our neighbors and community members.” Donations benefited everything from youth wellness and family service groups to organizations that provide transitional employment for recovering alcoholics.

The Mille Lacs Band is the largest taxpayer in Pine County and one of the largest in Mille Lacs County. In 2008, the tribe paid over $1 million in property taxes to Pine County, nearly $400,000 to Mille Lacs County, and a small amount to Aitkin County. The tribe pays property taxes because some facilities are located on fee lands instead of trust land, making them subject to local taxes.

The Mille Lacs Band operates Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Grand Casino Hinckley, which together employ more than 2,800 people, of which about 91 percent are non-Indians. Another 640 people work for the tribal government and schools.

“The generosity of the Mille Lacs Band and other Minnesota tribes proves that the Native traditions of sharing are alive and well, even in these difficult economic times,” said John McCarthy, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association (MIGA). “We are very proud of the great work MIGA tribes are doing all across the state.”