Skip to main content

Boreal Community Media

Two added to Grand Portage Tribal Council

Jul 19, 2019 05:51AM ● By Editor
It was an exciting day for the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa on July 10 when two members were added to the Grand Portage Tribal Council. Newly elected Tribal Chair Beth Drost, the first woman to be elected to the position of tribal chair, was sworn in first and then she performed her first active duty as tribal chair when she swore in Rick Anderson. Grand Portage Tribal members L-R: Rick Anderson, Bill Myers, Beth Drost, April McCormick and John Morrin. Photo: Brian Larsen

By Brian Larsen of the Cook County News Herald - July 19, 2019

“I promise to be positive, to keep persistent as I work for you,” said an appreciative Beth Drost to the large gathering of friends, family and community members that filled the Grand Portage log school to see her sworn in to serve as the new Grand Portage Tribal Council chair.

Drost was sworn in on Wednesday, July 10 at the Grand Portage log schoolhouse. Beth is the first woman to be elected tribal council chair. She was elected to fill the term of the late Norman Deschampe who served as tribal chair for 27 years. Norman died in February of a heart attack.

Tribal council secretary/treasurer April McCormick handled the duties of swearing in Drost, but stepped aside so that Beth could perform her first official duty as the new tribal chair when Beth stepped up and swore in new council member Rick Anderson.

Interim tribal council chair Marie Spry was at a meeting in Boise Forte representing Grand Portage and couldn’t attend the Wednesday meeting, but McCormick said Spry was excited for Drost and she passed on good wishes for the new tribal chair from Spry.

Drost defeated Spry in the special election for the chair position.

After thanking the community for supporting her, Beth said, “I will work hard for you. I have no idea how busy I will be, but I want you to know that I will make time for you. 

“I will do good things in your name. I’m telling you from my heart. I will stay positive and move us in a positive direction. I want to recognize the people who are doing good work for the Grand Portage community. To listen to them and use their ideas to help make the community a better place.”

The first hug Beth received was from her father, Curtis Gagnon. Thirty-one years ago Curtis gained fame when he sued the state of Minnesota because he had been arrested for shooting a moose off of the reservation. Curtis claimed the area was set aside for band members to hunt and fish under the 1854 treaty and the court agreed with him, and the band won a settlement from the state. 

Beth worked 11 years as a park ranger for the Grand Portage National Monument. She was born and raised in Grand Portage, graduating from Cook County I.S.D. 166 where she played sports in her free time. “I was in volleyball and track. We never got to state in volleyball but I qualified for the state meet in the discus in track. I guess you could say I was a jock.”

Beth reiterated that she would make time to listen to people as she learns her new position. Although she is new to politics, she said she thought about running for tribal chair for some time. A mother of two young children, Beth left her position at the national monument to make time for her new duties.

When it was his turn to address the audience Rick Anderson said, “I’m completely overwhelmed by your support and your trust in me.” 

No matter what the future brings, Anderson said, “As a tribe, as a people we persevere and we will continue to persevere.”

Rick owns Sweetgrass Cove Guesthouse & Bodywork Studio in Grand Portage. He and his family spent decades collecting historic artifacts near their cabin on South Fowl Lake, which they donated to the Grand Portage National Monument in 2017. Rick also serves as a committee member of the CACHE project (Community Agriculture through Culture) in Grand Portage, as well as vice president of the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic.

Rick and Beth join April McCormick, John Morrin, and William “Bill” Meyers on the Grand Portage Tribal Council.

Boreal Ship Spotter - larger view here