Red Lake elects new tribal leader

  • Article by: PAM LOUWAGIE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 17, 2014 - 4:56 PM

Longtime chairman Floyd Jourdain Jr., who led the Chippewa band at the time of the 2005 school shootings, is being replaced by Darrell Seki.

The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians will soon have a new leader.

Members of the northern Minnesota band last week elected Darrell G. Seki as tribal chairman, replacing chairman Floyd “Buck” Jourdain Jr., who held the post since 2004.

Seki, who now serves as tribal council treasurer, will take the post in June.

Jourdain, now 49, was the youngest person to be elected to the post when he took office a decade ago. He served as chairman when, in the spring of 2005, the reservation was thrust into the national spotlight because of a school shooting. Jeff Weise, 16, killed his grandfather and grandfather’s girlfriend at their home, then drove to the school and opened fire, killing seven others before taking his own life. Jourdain’s 16-year-old son was arrested in connection with the shootings and pleaded guilty in federal court to making a threatening communication.

Seki, 67, has an associate degree in junior accounting and is a Vietnam veteran. He has worked for the Red Lake Nation for more than 40 years, including as executive administrator.

Seki said in a telephone interview that when he campaigned, members told him they wanted more jobs.

“The first thing I’d like to do is a feasibility study for what kind of business would work on our closed reservation,” Seki said. “People want jobs, jobs, jobs.”

Seki beat three candidates for the post. Unofficial election results showed Seki with 1,907 votes, almost 54 percent. Jourdain received about 36 percent of the votes with 1,284. The tribe has a membership of more than 11,000.

Pam Louwagie • 612-673-7102

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