Elected & Appointed Officials

The Mille Lacs Band Chief Executive is elected by Band members every four years. The Secretary/Treasurer, who is the speaker of the Band Assembly, is also elected by Band members every four years. District Representatives to the Band Assembly are elected by the people of their respective districts for four-year terms. Band members who live off the reservation select a home district and vote only for that district’s Representative.

Tribal government overview

Elected Officials
Melanie's Photo Melanie Benjamin, Chief Executive As Chief Executive of the Non-Removable Mille Lacs Band of OJibwe, Melanie Benjamin leads the Executive Branch of tribal government, which implements Band laws and programs. As Chief Executive, Benjamin is statutorily responsible for conducting external relations on behalf of the Band with all other governments and political subdivisions.  Benjamin was first elected Chief Executive in 2000, and was re-elected in 2004, 2008 and 2012.
22925-006 Carolyn Beaulieu version 2 (4x5) Carolyn Shaw-Beaulieu, Secretary/Treasurer Carolyn Beaulieu has a long history of involvement with the Mille Lacs Band government prior to her election as Secretary-Treasurer in 2014. She began in 2001 as an executive assistant to the Commissioner of Corporate Affairs and then as associate director in the Band Member Development Department. She has also served as Commissioner of Administration and most recently as area relations/special projects coordinator for the Band’s Government Affairs Department. Carolyn earned a Master’s Degree in Tribal Administration and Governance from the University of Minnesota- Duluth. She also serves as Speaker of the Assembly.
Sandra L. Blake Miskwaanakwadooquay Sandra L. Blake, District I Representative Band member Sandra Blake was born and raised on the Mille Lacs Reservation, where she and her husband raised their three children. Blake has a bachelor’s degree in organizational development from the College of St. Scholastica and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in education. Blake was elected Mille Lacs Band District I Representative in 2008 and again in 2012; she previously served as District I Representative from 2000-2004.Blake most recently served as executive director of education for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. She has also held numerous positions within the Minnesota Historical Society at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum, as well as other positions with the Mille Lacs Band.
22925-088 David Aubid David “Niib” Aubid, District II Representative District II Representative David “Niib” Aubid took office in July of 2014. District II includes East Lake, Minnewawa, Sandy Lake, Aitkin and McGregor and Isle. Aubid has lived in the East Lake village of District II for the vast majority of his life. For several years, Aubid has taught at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, prior to which he taught for 16 years at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He served as District II representative from 1974 to 1978 and ascommissioner of administration from 1984 to 1989. Aubid received an associate degree from Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College with a specialty in Ojibwe language and a degree in American Indian studies from the University of Minnesota-Duluth with a minor in linguistics.
22925-072 Harry Davis Harry Davis, District III Representative In June 2014 District III voters returned Harry Davis to office. He had served as representative from 1998 to 2010. District III  includes the Hinckley and Lake Lena communities. During his tenure, he focused on improving the lives of Band members through housing, education and employment opportunities at the Band’s enterprises. Prior to becoming a District III representative, Davis was lead slot technician at Grand Casino Hinckley. He has also coached the Lake Lena Boxing Club. Davis resides east of Hinckley on the Mille Lacs Reservation.


Appointed Officials
Adam Valdez, Commissioner of Finance
Todd Matha Todd Matha, Solicitor General Todd R. Matha was appointed Solicitor General in May 2011. As Solicitor General, Matha advises and represents the Mille Lacs Band on tribal, state and federal legal matters. He also leads the Band’s Department of Justice, which includes the Department of Public Safety and the Tribal Police Department.Prior to his appointment with the Mille Lacs Band, Matha worked for the Ho-Chunk Nation in Wisconsin. He served on the tribe’s Trial Court as an Associate Judge from 1999-2005 and a Chief Judge from 2005-2011. He will continue to serve as Associate Justice for the Ho-Chunk Nation Supreme Court. Matha graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1996 and received a bachelor’s degree from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania in 1991. A member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, Matha has a wife and two children.
Sam Moose Sam Moose, Commissioner of Health and Human Services In September 2012, Sam Moose was appointed Commissioner of Health and Human Services, a position he previously held from 2001-2009. In this role, Moose oversees the Band’s three clinic locations and other services in the areas of public health, behavioral health, family services, and community support services.Moose previously served as Commissioner of Community Development and was in charge of the Band’s public works and facilities departments and housing development initiatives. He has also served as the Band’s director of housing.Moose is active in traditional activities within his community. He grew up near East Lake and graduated from McGregor High School. He has a bachelor of applied science degree in community health with a minor in Indian Studies from the University of Minnesota Duluth and a master’s degree in tribal administration and governance from the University of Minnesota Duluth.
Joseph Nayquonabe, Jr. Joseph Nayquonabe, Jr., Commissioner of Corporate Affairs Joseph Nayquonabe, Jr. was appointed Commissioner of Corporate Affairs in September 2012. In this role, Nayquonabe serves as the chief executive officer and chair of the board of directors for the Mille Lacs Band’s Corporate Commission, which analyzes new business opportunities and oversees the Band’s existing businesses, including Grand Casino Mille Lacs, Grand Casino Hinckley, and numerous small businesses.Previously Nayquonabe oversaw Grand Casinos’ marketing efforts as corporate vice president of marketing after serving in various marketing positions at Grand Casino Mille Lacs. Nayquonabe has a bachelor’s degree in marketing from St. Cloud State University and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. He is currently working on his master’s degree in tribal administration and governance from the University of Minnesota Duluth.Nayquonabe and his wife, Christina, live in Onamia with their daughters, Bella, Phoenix-Rose, and Xiana. In his spare time, he enjoys playing basketball, golfing, listening to music, and reading.
Catherine Colsrud Catherine Colsrud, Commissioner of Administration Catherine Colsrud, District III community member, was appointed as Commissioner of Administration on May 15. In her role, she will oversee the Assistant Commissioner of Administration, the Commissioner of Community Development, the Commissioner of Health & Human Services, and the Commissioner of Natural Resources. She will also oversee the day to day operations of the tribal government, including fiscal responsibilities, human resources, contract and grant management as well as serve as chief of staff to the Chief Executive, Melanie Benjamin. She served a term as a Housing Board Member, over 10 years as a foster parent, and has previous volunteer with various elders activities. She was a coordinator of the Grand Celebration Pow Wow for a number of years. She also worked at both Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Hinckley, starting in 1991 at GCML and in 1992, helped open GCH. Some of the various positions include Community Relations Manager, Bingo and Pull Tabs Director, Director of Special Projects, Asst. General Manager and General Manager. She received her Bachelors in Business Administration from Augsburg College, member of Delta Mu Delta, National Honor Society for Business Administration. Catherine is a resident of Sandstone, MN.
Michele Palomaki Michele Palomaki, Assistant Commissioner of Administration Michele Palomaki was named Assistant Commissioner of Administration in August 2011. In this role, she acts in a deputy-level capacity to the Commissioner of Administration to help manage the day-to-day operations of the Mille Lacs Band government. Her duties include managing human resources, finances, and contracts for the executive branch of Band government. Palomaki will also act as Commissioner of Administration when the Commissioner is absent and will assist other commissioners with day to day operations as needed.Palomaki joined the Mille Lacs Band in 2001, first serving in the office of management and budget. Most recently, she was the director of Circle of Health, a program that pays for deductibles, copays, and health insurance premiums for Band members. Prior to working for the Band, Palomaki held several positions in the accounting and medical industries in Michigan.A Mille Lacs Band member, Palomaki has an associate of science degree from Northern Michigan University and an associate of arts degree from Central Lakes College. She lives in Isle with her husband, Bruce, and son, Jacob. She also has stepchildren and a granddaughter who live in Michigan.
Percy Benjamin Percy Benjamin, Commissioner of Community Development
Susan Klapel Susan Klapel, Executive Director of DNR
Ed Minnema, Commissioner of Education