Minneapolis: There's a foreign embassy on Bloomington Avenue

The coffeepot is always on at the Red Lake Embassy, 2929 Bloomington Ave. S., and Receptionist Leah Loud will always greet you with a smile. The Embassy is part of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa and exists to offer assistance and social opportunities to Red Lake Band members, 5,000 of whom live in the metro area.

Embassy is an apt description, too, because the Red Lake Band is a sovereign nation governed only by tribal and federal law. Red Lake maintained its independence by its refusal to sign the Dawes Act of 1887, which split tribal lands into individual farming plots with individual ownership. Red Lake has remained a closed reservation communally owned.

The Embassy extends services to band members, like an extended family, with special concern for elders and youth. Metro elders enjoy monthly lunches with guest speakers and occasional trips to visit the reservation in northwest Minnesota, 30 miles north of Bemidji. Embassy Senior Advocate Johnny Smith is currently investigating nursing home abuse. Youth activities recently included a dinner at Pizza Luce celebrating 2013 graduates and their families.

Annual events include Toys for Tots, a school kickoff with school supplies, an annual party and a picnic as well as a Metro Area State of the Band Address by Tribal Chairman Floyd “Buck” Jourdain to name just a few.

Right: Elders' Brunch: Mona Smith, Muriel Thompson, Kathy Johns, Ethel Lumber, Bonita Ruiz

“We promote communication between band members and keep band members informed on important reservation issues,” explains Executive Director Muriel Dickenson. “Our mission is to serve Red Lake Band Members while protecting our shared traditions and culture.”

All services are delivered with the respect and warmth of Red Lake culture, creating an oasis of caring in the big city.

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