Chief Executive Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin leads the Executive Branch of the Non-Removable Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe tribal government, which implements Band laws and programs. As chief executive, Benjamin is statutorily responsible for conducting external relations on the Band’s behalf with all other governments and political subdivisions. Benjamin was first elected chief executive in 2000 and was re-elected in 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2020.
Benjamin first gained experience in tribal government in 1989, when she was recruited by the late Arthur Gahbow to serve as his chief of staff in the position of commissioner of administration, a role which she held from 1989 to 1997, and which is the top appointed position in Band government. After Gahbow’s passing, Benjamin continued in this post throughout 1997 under the late Marge Anderson. Benjamin has also served as senior vice president of administration and finance at Grand Casino Hinckley and as interim director of the Pine Grove Leadership Academy. Benjamin has been active on many boards and organizations throughout the state and nation. She is a board member of the American Indian Law Resource Center, the Minnesota Board on Aging, Women Empowering Women for Indian Nations, the U.S. Attorney General’s Tribal Nations Leadership Council, and the National Indian Gaming Association (alternate), and is a past secretary and vice chair for the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe.
Benjamin earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Minnesota Duluth and a business administration degree from Bemidji State University.