Leech Lake Reservation at a glance

  • Updated: May 10, 2010 - 8:27 PM

• The Leech Lake Reservation measures about 680,000 acres and encompasses three of Minnesota's largest and best fishing lakes: Leech, Cass and Winnibigoshish.

The lakes' surface area covers about a third of the reservation. Of the remaining 465,000 acres, other governments own 332,000 acres.

• About 5,000 of 9,400 band members live on the reservation, about a third of whom live below the nation's poverty level, according to the band.

• Government is by a five-member Reservation Business Committee. Its two officers, chairman Arthur LaRose and secretary-treasurer Mike Bongo, are elected at-large. The other three represent specific districts.

• The reservation has a tribal K-12 school, Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig; a hospital and satellite health clinics, and a two-year tribal college.

• A 1972 agreement with the state allows nonband anglers to fish on the reservation in exchange for up to $7 million annually to the band.

• Leech Lake band members can net lakes within the reservation to feed themselves and their families. Few nets are set. Sometimes nets are illegally destroyed by nonband inhabitants.

• The band owns three casinos, with gross annual revenue of about $100 million and a profit of about $15 million, according to the band. The casinos have 1,269 employees, 768 of whom are Leech Lake Chippewa or other natives.

• Nonband members of the Leech Lake Fishing Task Force, a community group that helps stock walleyes, say the band and its casinos have been invaluable in supporting their efforts. Last summer, 650 band and nonband members attended a walleye fry and gathering. "Whatever we talk about, whatever we do here [in Walker] and on Leech Lake, it's the Indian and non-Indian community working together,'' said Terry Holly of Walker, a task force member who does not belong to the band.

DENNIS ANDERSON

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