Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
Leech Lake Chippewa delegation to Washington 1899.png
Members of a Leech Lake Ojibwe delegation to Washington, 1899
Total population
9,426 (2014)
Regions with significant populations
 United States ( Minnesota)
English, Ojibwe
Midewiwin, Roman Catholicism, Methodism
Related ethnic groups
other bands of Minnesota Chippewa
and other Ojibwe people

The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, also known as the Leech Lake Band of Chippewa Indians or the Leech Lake Band of Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, and as Gaa-zagaskwaajimekaag Ojibweg in the Ojibwe language, is an Ojibwe band located in Minnesota and one of six making up the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. The band had 9,426 enrolled tribal members as of March 2014. The band's land base is the Leech Lake Indian Reservation, which includes eleven communities aggregated into three districts, as defined in the tribal constitution,


As a member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, which also includes the bands of Bois Forte, Fond du Lac, Grand Portage, Mille Lacs, and White Earth, the Leech Lake Band is governed by a tribal constitution, written following the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act. The tribe's constitution established a corporate system of governance with "reservation business committees," also referred to as "Reservation Tribal Councils", as the governmental body. The committees are composed of a chairperson, a secretary-treasurer, and three district representatives. The representatives are elected for four-year terms. Their elections are staggered.

The current Tribal Council is as follows (with the year of next election for the position in parentheses):

  • Chairman Faron Jackson Sr. (2020)
  • Secretary/Treasurer Arthur "Archie" LaRose (2022)
  • District I Representative Robbie Howe (2022)
  • District II Representative Steven White (2022)
  • District III Representative LeRoy Staples-Fairbanks III (2020)

Socioeconomic initiatives

The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe operates three casinos: Cedar Lakes Casino and Hotel in Cass Lake on the Leech Lake Reservation; Northern Lights in Walker; and White Oak in Deer River. The Band's Business Development Division also operates the Che-We-Ka-E-Gon Complex in Cass Lake, which consists of a convenience store and gas station, a gift shop, and an office supply store. Additionally, the Band operates the Northern Lights Express, a gas station near the Northern Lights Casino. The Palace Casino and Hotel was replaced by the new Cedar Lakes Casino Hotel, which opened on August 8, 2019 in Cass Lake, MN.

In addition to economic initiatives, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe has founded two major educational initiatives: the Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School, an open enrollment K-12 school, and Leech Lake Tribal College, which grants associate degrees.

Like the Red Lake and White Earth Bands, the Leech Lake Band is known for its tradition of singing hymns in the Ojibwe language.[1]


The tribal schools are Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School[2] and Leech Lake Tribal College.

Notable Leech Lake Band citizens

  • Luke Wilson — Former district 1 representative for the Leech Lake nation.
  • Dennis BanksAmerican Indian Movement co-founder, writer, and Indigenous issues advocate
  • Irene Folstrom—attorney and social justice activist
  • Dr. Priscilla A. DayUniversity of Minnesota Duluth Professor Emeritus of social work and education[3]
  • Skip Finn (1948–2018) — state senator and Ojibwe attorney
  • Elaine Fleming — First Anishinaabe mayor of Cass Lake, Minnesota and Chair of Arts and Humanities at Leech Lake Tribal College
  • Annie Humphrey — Musician-singer-songwriter (official website)
  • Dr. Scott Lyons — Syracuse University assistant professor in the College and Arts Sciences Department with a focus on Native American literature and rhetoric, and frequent contributor to Indian Country Today ((archived university website)) (current faculty listing)
  • OzaawindibAyaakwe, served as a guide to Henry Rowe Schoolcraft
  • Dr. Marilyn Russell — Former library director at Haskell Indian Nations University
  • Chief John Smith — reportedly lived 137 years
  • Valerie Tanner — Assistant professor and director of Ojibwe Language & Culture at the College of St. Scholastica
  • Dr. Anton TreuerBemidji State University assistant professor of Ojibwe language and author of Ojibwe histories
  • David Treuer — author (official website)
  • Emma Bear (1898-2001) - last survivor of the Battle of Sugar Point


  1. ^ Dan Gunderson (2013-01-10). "Preserving Ojibwe hymns means more than religious devotion". Minnesota Public Radio News. White Earth, Minnesota. Retrieved 2021-10-09.
  2. ^ "A welcome end to classes in a Leech Lake Reservation pole barn". Minneapolis Star Tribune. 2016-04-06. Retrieved 2021-08-11.
  3. ^ Dr. Priscilla Fairbanks, University of Minnesota Duluth. Retrieved 2021-10-09.

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