Leech Lake Flags Raised in Grand Rapids to Improve Itasca County, Native Relations

By KBJR News 1

September 14, 2013 Updated Sep 14, 2013 at 1:00 PM CDT

Grand Rapids, MN (NNCNOW.COM)

The Grand Rapids community wants to bridge communication with the Native community.

Leech Lake flags were raised at the Itasca County Courthouse and Chamber Depot as a symbol of Native, County partnership.

"Flags are the things that really stand out in people's minds and are recognizable by everybody. And so the flag is the tool that we use to say hey, this land is your land as well as ours," says Bud Stone, President of Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce.

Grand Rapids changed it's legislation district last fall.
The new district, running from Grand Rapids to Bemidji, now includes the Leech Lake Indian reservation.

"We started to look at the relationships that we did not have with our neighbors and thought that we needed to be the ones that stepped forward and said you know, it's time that we sent a visible signal that says we want to be a welcoming community for the native population that lives next to us," Stone adds.

The hand of friendship offered to the Leech Lake community did not go unnoticed.

"A lot of them were really excited and really emotional with it because they always looked at Leech Lake within a boundary... that there's a line a line between us but we have to remember that there is no line, we have to take the barriers down," says Carri Jones, Leek Lake Tribal Chair Woman.

...Taking down barriers for generations to come.

"If there must be trouble let it be in my day that my child may have peace," quotes Robbie Howe, a District 1 Representative of Leech Lake Ojibwe.

"For our children as well, to build positive communities for them," Jones adds.

"There were some pretty horrible atrocities that took place in the Native American community over the years, what's referred to in the history books as historical trauma. And there's a healing process that has to take place and we'd like to be a part of that," says Stone.

The Chamber is working to create an Ojibwe center within the Depot to help move the healing along.

A ceremony in Duluth took place June 24th to reinstall the Eagle Staff flag of the Anishinaabe people at the Duluth Civic Center.
The flag had been desecrated and discarded on three separate occasions.

Posted to the web by Gabrielle Ware