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Three Minnesota tribal leaders will be at Obama's speech

Posted by: Curt Brown Updated: January 28, 2014 - 12:15 PM

A trio of tribal leaders from Minnesota are scheduled to attended President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night in Washington.

Carri Jones, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe chairwoman, will join Melanie Benjamin from the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe as guests of U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan. Rep. John Kline has invited Keith Anderson, the vice chairman of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community -- Scott County's largest employer.

Jones, 33, became the first woman and youngest person elected as Leech Lake chairperson in 2012.

Benjamin has watched in support as Obama advocated on issues ranging from Native American health to justice. Now the chief executive of the Mille Lacs Band is excited to get a first-hand glimpse of the president in action.

"The Ojibwe people and their elected leaders are so important and contribute so much to our economy, our culture and our way of life," Nolan said.

His northeastern Minnesota congressional district includes five of the six Minnesota Chippewa (Ojibwe) tribes. Benjamin has been the Mille Lacs band's leader since 2012 and served the same role from 2000-'08.

"To be part of such a historical tradition is a truly exciting and humbling experience," she said in a statement. "Since taking office, the president has been a tireless advocate for the American Indian..."

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