Red Lake Band's treasurer elected tribal chairman, ousting Buck Jourdain


Floyd "Buck" Jourdain's ten years as chairman of the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe are ending.

The Associated Press reports Jourdain finished second among four candidates as members of the northwestern Minnesota band elected Darrell G. Seki, Sr. the new chairman. Seki, who is currently the tribe's treasurer, claimed nearly 54 percent of the votes, the AP says.

Seki (right) was not available to speak to news reporters. Michael Meuers, a spokesman for the Red Lake Band and a friend of Seki's, told MPR News the new chairman is a traditionalist.

Meuers tells MPR Seki spoke only Ojibwe until he was in middle school. He says Seki has gained widespread respect during the 40 years he's been involved in tribal government, adding "He follows the old ways, but that doesn't mean he's not progressive."

Jourdain's ten years at the helm of the band included the fateful day in 2005 when 16-year-old Jeffrey Weise went on a shooting rampage that left 10 people dead, most of them at Red Lake High School.

Jourdain (left) tells the Bemidji Pioneer the shooting helped make him a stronger leader. He says in recent years he's pushed for reform in education and tribal government, advocating for more separation of powers between government, courts, and business.

Jourdain tells MPR Seki's victory in the election represents a shift toward an older form of government.

In 2006 the Star Tribune profiled the Red Lake reservation as the one-year anniversary of the shooting approached. Jourdain emphasized the importance of sovereignty at Red Lake. He told the newspaper that modern visitors don't necessarily appreciate the strides made on the reservation from the tar paper shacks and abject poverty of a generation ago.

A thumbnail history of the band on its website explains that the Ojibwe nation first moved west to the Red Lake area between 1650 and 1750, pushing the Dakota out of the region. They ceded some of their land to the U.S. in treaties dating back to 1863. But today's reservation occupies land that has never left tribal control since the Ojibwe arrived.

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