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Seki wins election for Red Lake chairman

Darrell G. Seki

RED LAKE, Minn. -- After a decade-long reign, Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians Tribal Chairman Floyd "Buck" Jourdain will be relinquishing his title. Former tribal treasurer Darrell G. Seki will succeed Jourdain as chairman.

Seki's victory of 1,907 votes versus Jourdain's 1,284 in Tuesday’s election wasn't a surprise to the current chairman.

"It's hard to adapt sometimes. I tried to engage the next generation and push hard for education and constitutional reform," Jourdain said. "To be a change agent in Indian Country is hard."

Jourdain said a majority of the tribal council is accustomed to the old ways, which led to some campaigning against him. One of the things Jourdain pursued was a nation-building model out of Harvard that focusses on a separation of power from tribal governments, tribal courts and tribal business.

"We're going through a transformation here on constitutional reform," Jourdain explained. "We're growing and we're changing as a tribe."

The separation into four districts (Red Lake, Little Rock, Ponemah and Redby) and the Indian Reorganization Act-style constitution currently in place on the Red Lake Reservation were all imposed by the federal government, Jourdain said.

"It's counter to our philosophy that everybody takes care of each other," Jourdain said.

Jourdain said the dependence on governments needs to be broken because it leads to poverty. It also leads to lack of jobs and adequate health care, he said. Government, treaties, chemical-free counseling and education are some areas Jourdain will focus on while not in office.

"Eventually, I'd like to teach at a college level to give back to the next generation," Jourdain said. "Ten years of running an Indian tribe I've gained a lot experience and insight into how our tribe, and tribes in general operate."

Jourdain counts two new Boys & Girls Clubs as his proudest accomplishment while in office. In addition to the youth centers, Jourdain oversaw development of the Warroad and Red Lake casinos, which added jobs on the reservation."More was accomplished in 10 years than in the prior 40 before I was chair," Jourdain said.

Jourdain finished a two-year term vacated by the death of Gerald "Butch" Brun in 2004. He won the following two elections, giving him a total of 10 years as tribal chairman. Not long after taking office, Jourdain's leadership skills were tested.

"The school shooting in 2005 was something no one can ever anticipate. It made me a strong leader," Jourdain said. "I was there for whatever reason, I was supposed to be there at that time."

Although it was a brutal election in general, Jourdain won't rule out running again in the future, he said.

"I love politics and campaigns. I love our tribe and the people," Jourdain said. "I don't have hard feelings or animosity."

Chairman-elect Seki could not be reached for comment Thursday. He will be sworn into office June 10.

The General Election Board certified votes Thursday as follows:


Darrell G. Seki 1907

Floyd "Buck" Jourdain 1284

Kathryn "Jody" Beaulieu 192

Ron Lussier 57


Don Cook Sr. 1023

Sam Strong 911

Judy Roy 906

Jim White 352

Rochelle "Chelle" Kingbird 238


Annette Johnson 1345

Glenda J. Martin 896

Michael Barrett 561

Lee Lussier Jr. 431

Cheryl A. Schoenborn 201

Little Rock Representative

Robert "Charlie" Reynolds 148

Adrian Lee Beaulieu 145

Christopher Jourdain 57

Katherine "Spears" Dudley 53

Ponemah Representative

Gary L. Nelson Sr. 325

Eugene Perkins 103

Clifford C. Hardy 62

Red Lake Representative

Roman "Ducker" Stately 398

Robert "Bob" Smith 161

Robert L. May 155

David F. Desjarlait 127

Donovan M. May 61

Deanna K. Lasley 33

Martin "Mott" Parkhurst 33

Redby Representative

Julius "Toady" Thunder 291

Thomas "Jambi" Westbrook 188

Matt Sayers 92

John W. Dudley 64

Clayton Van Wert 34

Crystal Dey
Crystal Dey covers crime, courts, tribal relations and social issues for The Bemidji Pioneer in Bemidji, Minnesota. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey has worked for the Echo Press in Alexandria, Minnesota, The Forum in Fargo, North Dakota, The Tampa Tribune in Tampa, Florida, the Hartford Courant in Hartford and West Hartford News in West Hartford, Connecticut. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.
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