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Chippewa National Forest highlights unique relationship with Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe

MINNESOTA – November was National Native American Heritage Month. The month is a time to recognize and honor the significant contributions of the Native Americans to the establishment and growth of the United States.

The ancestors of the Dakota and Ojibwe occupied the region for thousands of years before the Chippewa National Forest was created. The Leech Lake Indian Reservation and the Chippewa National Forest share almost 2,000 miles of boundary. About 90 percent of the Reservation is situated within the National Forest, and the Reservation makes up nearly half of the National Forest. This unique geographic relationship directly links the National Forest with the social, economic and cultural well-being of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. These reflections from Millie Baird, Marci Gotchie and Tracie Cloud, demonstrate the impact of this unique collaboration:

Millie Baird, Civil Engineer

Millie Baird, Civil Engineer
Even though I have been a lifelong resident of the Leech Lake Reservation and an enrolled member of the White Earth Band, I realized that I had a very poor understanding of laws and policies regarding Native Americans. Doug Thompson, Chippewa National Forest Tribal Liaison, talked to me about the online Laws and Policies Graduate Program through the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

The two-year Masters of Tribal Administration and Governance program has been a very fulfilling way to learn the history and reasons for various laws and regulations, and how these still impact tribes and tribal members today. This program has also given me a solid foundation for understanding the complexity of tribal relations in a government to government setting. As an online program, MTAG meets once-a-month at the UMD campus. The MTAG meeting is also online so I can attend and interact in the same class from home online or in person.

I am excited to graduate this upcoming spring with a much better awareness of my own heritage, and new skills in leadership, management, and finances.


Marcie Gotchie, Archaeology Technician

Marcie Gotchie, Archaeology Technician
I am of the bear clan and a Leech Lake Band member-Pillager. I was born and raised on the Leech Lake Reservation in the Deer River area by my grandfather, the late Leo A. Gotchie Sr. 

I graduated from the Salish Kootenai College in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Tribal Historic Preservation, a degree program that centered on Indigenous archaeology. Immediately following graduation I applied for a resource assistant Internship with the USDA Forest Service, my duty location would be the Ravalli County Museum located in Hamilton, Montana as an interpreter for the Nez Perce Historic Trail. I spent three months at this location learning about the Niimiipu (Nez Perce) people before I transferred back home to the Chippewa National Forest in Minnesota to finish my internship as a resource assistant. In September of 2018, I began my career as an archaeology technician for the Chippewa National Forest.

Many have asked why I have chosen this career path; my answer is the fact that there aren’t many Native American archaeologists that are working within the field.

Traci Cloud, Information Assistant


Traci Cloud, Information Assistant
I am honored to be on the Onigum Local Indian Council (OLIC); the community I grew up in. The council serves the Native American communities of Onigum, Old Agency, Midway, and Breezy Point Circle on the Leech Lake Reservation. In July 2018, I was elected Vice Chairperson of the local Indian Council for the next 2 years.

One of our missions is to serve and represent the Onigum community in all aspects. Every person has a voice and is always welcome to attend the monthly meetings. Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of every month at the Onigum Community Center. We work closely with other agencies.  If agencies and groups have a topic that they would like to present to the community they may contact the OLIC to be placed on the meeting agenda. Our Council falls under District 3 of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and we are the largest district of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.

Last year, the new Onigum Community Center opened its doors for the first time and kicked off our grand opening with a powwow and feast. Inside the new community center is a full-size gymnasium, four bathrooms, locker rooms, two saunas, two kitchens, a clinic, fitness room, library, education room, and meeting rooms. For November’s Native American Heritage month, our community had an Onigum Wellness Day with speakers and information booths set up for community members.

A community is about learning, supporting, and communicating with one another for the betterment of all.

Interface allowing LLBO access to Chippewa NF GIS data

Resource Information Management Team Launches Application to Improve Data Sharing with LLBO
Chippewa National Forest Resource Information Management team launched a web-based application for downloading and browsing stand level (vegetation) data, in an effort to provide more efficient and timely data sharing capabilities with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and other partners.

The Chippewa RIM team conducted a data sharing meeting with several employees of the LLBO Division of Resource Management to test the new Forest application. At the meeting, the RIM team demonstrated the download and viewing applications, demonstrated access to metadata and application documentation, and discussed other datasets that could be shared using this approach. 

The applications should provide an easy interface for LLBO, partners and the public to access Forest data while removing the need for RIM and other Forest staff to fill ad-hoc requests for vegetation data.