Tribal flags posted at City Hall, rental code amendments scrapped

The Bemidji City Council hosted leaders from three nearby tribal nations for the historic tribal flag-raising ceremony at City Hall Monday night. Red Lake Chairman Darrell Seki, Sr., said the event was a first step toward recognition for the three tribal nations of Red Lake, Leech Lake and White Earth, after many generations of challenges.

White Earth Chairman Michael Fairbanks noted the band’s investment in the city with the Ridgeway Apartment purchase, and Leech Lake Representative Leroy Staples Fairbanks III said it is important for all people to feel welcomed and comfortable.

Mayor Jorge Prince said the “path to progress was paved by the past and present councils.”

In the regular meeting of the City Council, the council voted 5-2 to start over with the rental code amendment process.

Ward 4’s Emelie Rivera was chair of the rental ad hoc committee that worked on the amendments with city staff as well as representatives from Bemidji’s landlord community.

In recent discussions, council members brought up issues of safety in units such as occupancy limits and a lack of egress windows in many existing units.

Rivera, to rental inspector Ben Hein, said the committee created an ordinance that would allow Hein to do his job, but the council keeps “moving the goalposts.”

The council also approved the 2023-2027 Capital Improvement Plan for the Sanford Center and set the final budget and levy for 2023.

Featured photo, from left: District Representative LeRoy Staples Fairbanks III (Leech Lake Band); Chairman Darrell Seki, Sr. (Red Lake Band); and Chairman Michael Fairbanks (White Earth) stand alongside their respective tribal nation flags.

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