Members of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa are heading to the polls Wednesday for the tribe's general elections.
A total of forty candidates are running for eight government positions, but the most important — and contentious — race is for tribal chairman. Red Lake is a sovereign nation, so the chairman role is like that of the president of a small country.
The incumbent, Darrell Seki, is running against four other candidates: Vince Brown, Williamette Hardy-Morrison, Jim White and former chairman Floyd "Buck" Jourdain.
Jourdain led the tribal council for more than a decade, then lost to Seki in the last election.
Over the past four years, Seki has established a chemical dependency treatment center and prioritized infrastructure projects on the Red Lake Nation, including a solar array expected to make the reservation energy independent within several years.
He also directed tribal police to crack down on the drug trade on the reservation. In a campaign-season statement, Seki announced that tribal law enforcement seized more than $1.6 million worth of illegal drugs during his time in office.
Red Lake band members are also voting in races for treasurer, secretary, and tribal council representatives from the Little Rock, Red Lake, Ponemah and Redby districts Wednesday.
By the time the polls close, Red Lake might have a slate of Election Day winners. But the general election isn't guaranteed to end definitively: If a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, he or she will be declared the winner of their race. If not, the band will hold a runoff election among the most popular candidates within 60 days of the general election.