Candidate profile: Mike Fairbanks has education, experience to do the job
Aaniin and Boozhoo Gaa-waabaabiganikaag nindinawemaaganidog.
Hello and greetings my White Earth relatives:
After much thought and consideration, I have decided to run for chairman of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe. I feel that my professional experience, education and most importantly, how I live my life offers, the leadership qualities needed to be your chairman.
My parents are the late Juel and Elsie Fairbanks; I grew up in St. Paul and moved up north right after high school.
My education consists of two Associate of Science degrees: business management and nutrition, Bachelor of Arts in American Indian studies and Post bachelor's in the Naadamaadiwin Special Education Program.
I am graduating with a Master of Arts in Education from Augsburg University.
I have worked in tribal administration in various capacities for the last 18 years; which included the deputy director of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe.
During this position I established an expansive overview and gained valuable knowledge of the diverse programming and services provided for our members on and off the White Earth Nation reservation.
This experience gave me the opportunity to work alongside tribal, state and national leadership, program management and leading staff in proactively addressing issues and concerns of White Earth Band members in our communities.
I am currently employed as the coordinator of a nonprofit organization, which protects our water and air on a local level right here on the White Earth Nation reservation.
Family is a very important part of my life. I have two adult children and eight grandchildren and am engaged to a traditional spirited Anishinaabe woman.
It is because of our natural connection to Mother Earth we are protectors of the water and air, our Ojibwe communities as well as Ojibwe culture and language. I am a pipe carrier and drum keeper as well as a traditional dancer and find a strong sense of Mino-bimaadiziwin, The Good Life, in our communities.
I do believe we need to move forward on a variety of initiatives in order to ensure that our futures are positive and healthy.
Health care — Currently the White Earth Tribe is considered a Direct Service Tribe, this means that the Indian Health Services currently provides for the majority of health care services through the White Earth Service Unit.
I would like to see White Earth to take over those services through a self-governance contract. This would allow White Earth to not only provide more services to elders and other band members, but allow us to more fully integrate existing tribal programs with those services — creating a White Earth Tribal Health system that will provide more and better healthcare services, as well as allow for improvements and services to be developed and implemented that we as a tribe determines is best for our communities and people.
Joint venture - This is a competitive agreement with the Indian Health Services that White Earth was awarded two years ago. This agreement will allow for a new tribal run facility to be built in Naytahwaush. Currently, this project is on hold, I feel that is vital that this project goes forward as it will provide better healthcare access to our elders, and band members in Naytahwaush and surrounding communities. The new clinic will also provide much-needed jobs both in the construction phase of the clinic and also when the facility is in operation, which will improve that community's economy.
Education - Educating our people is also another top priority. Preparing future generations for professional and vocational opportunities will only strengthen our communities.
As your chairman, issues that are important to me: A healthy family, education, and traditional Anishinaabe values, will provide the kind of leadership that you, my White Earth Relatives, deserve to have.
Mii-Gwech bizindawiyeg noogom.
Thank you for listening to me today.—Michael A. Fairbanks