Native News

Minnesota Chippewa Tribe general elections have concluded, new chairperson to lead Fond du Lac Band

An elections building02
The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe urban office on East Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis on April 2.
Melissa Olson | MPR News

The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa elected a new chairperson earlier this week as voters from across the six member nations of Minnesota Chippewa Tribe went to the polls.  

Fond du Lac voters chose Bruce Savage to lead the tribal nation over incumbent Kevin DuPuis, Sr. DuPuis led the Fond du Lac Band for the past eight years.

Savage, who will take office in July, will lead during a moment when the band is expanding its economic footprint on its lands. 

In late May, the Minnesota Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation approved a $2.5 million loan to the Fond du Lac Band for a start-up cannabis business on the reservation located southwest of Duluth. The band is also undertaking a restoration project at Wisconsin Point in the Duluth-Superior harbor after a decades-long fight to have the land returned.  

Fond du Lac Band voters also elected incumbent Wayne Dupuis to the tribe’s District 1 committeeperson and Earl Otis to the District 3 committeeperson office. 

Each member nation of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe is governed by a reservation business committee. Elected officials from each of the member nations elect an executive committee from their own ranks. 

Incumbent candidates at Bois Fort Band of Chippewa, a tribal nation north of Ely, edged out challengers to keep their seats — incumbent chairperson Cathy Chavers over challenger Hannah Lehti-Chosa by six votes. Perry Drift won by the same margin in the race for District 1 representative.  

Leech Lake Band voters re-elected Incumbent Faron Jackson, Sr. over challenger Gerald White. Leon Staples, Jr. won the race for Leech Lake District 3 representative. The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe is east of Bemidji in northern Minnesota. 

White Earth Nation voters returned chairperson Michael Fairbanks to office for another term. Laura Lee Erickson was elected District 3 committeeperson over the incumbent Cheryl “Annie” Jackson. White Earth Nation is just south of Detroit Lakes.  

Chairperson of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Band of Chippewa Robert Deschampe ran unopposed and will remain in office. Incumbent Marie Spry won reelection for Grand Portage committeeperson. The Grand Portage Band shares a geography with the far northeast part of the state. 

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe voters elected Carolyn Beaulieu to the band’s District I office.  

Mille Lacs Band voters had earlier elected Virgil Wind as the band’s chief executive after Wind had earned more than 50 percent of the primary vote held in early April.  

Election winners will assume office July 8.

2024 General Election Results 


Bois Forte Band of Chippewa Indians 


  • Catherine Chavers (I) — 50.40 percent 

  • Hannah Lehti-Chosa — 49.20 percent 

District 1 Representative 

  • Perry Drift — 50.16 percent 

  • Edward Villebrun — 48.25 percent 

Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa 


  • Kevin DuPuis, Sr. (I) — 47.12 percent 

  • Bruce Savage — 52.88 percent 

District 1 Committee person 

  • Wally Dupuis (I) — 59.55 percent 

  • Michelle DeBolt — 40.45 percent 

District 3 Committee person 

  • Roger Smith, Sr. (I) — 39.88 percent 

  • Earl Otis — 60.12 percent 


Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa 


  • Robert Deschampe (unopposed) 

Committee person 

  • Marie Spry (I) — 54.31 percent 

  • William “Bill” Myers — 45.69 percent 

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe 


  • Faron Jackson (I) — 62.75 percent 

  • Gerald White — 37.25 percent 

District 3 Representative 

  • Leon Staples, Jr. — 61.62 percent 

  • Glen Fisher — 38.38 percent 


Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe 

Chief Executive 

  • Virgil Wind — 67.44 percent (Winner, with more than 50 percent of the primary vote) 

  • Samuel Moose — 30.64 percent 

District 1 Representative 

  • Valerie Sam-Harrington — 47.21 percent 

  • Carolyn Beaulieu — 52.79 percent 


White Earth Nation 


  • Michael Fairbanks (I) — 55.96 percent 

  • Eugene “Umsy” Tibbets — 44.04 percent 


District 3 Committee person 

  • Laura Lee Erickson — 57.43 percent 

  • Cheryl “Annie” Jackson (I) — 42.57 percent

Correction (June 15, 2024): This article incorrectly stated the winner of District 1 committee person for Fond du Lac Band. The article has been updated, and percentages of vote counts have also been updated.

Correction (June 16, 2024): A previous version had an incorrect first name for a candidate in the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa elections. The story is updated.

Correction (June 18, 2024): A previous version of this story incorrectly identified a candidate as an incumbent. This has been updated.