CASS LAKE — Gov. Dayton has responded to the death of 4-year-old Eric Dean by creating a new task force to protect children. Dean was murdered in 2013 as a result of abuse and maltreatment in his home that had been reported 15 times in Pope County.

Dayton announced appointments to the 26-person Governor’s Task Force on the Protection of Children on Friday. Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Chairwoman Carri Jones is one of the appointees. Jones has also been named as a 2014 Native American “40 under 40” award recipient.

“The governor is working on having tribal leaders on a lot of his efforts he is pushing forward,” Jones said.

Jones officially accepted the appointment to Dayton’s task force Thursday. She will be meeting with a tribal liaison for the department of health and human services in the upcoming weeks to get up to speed on what being on the task force entails. Jones recently returned from a gaming conference in Las Vegas.

Jones said child protection is an issue both on and off reservations.

“I just want to make sure that with a tribal leader coming on the task force that the voices of all Native American tribes are being heard,” Jones said. “Native American kids are being taken care of and we’re addressing their issues as well.”

The Native American “40 under 40” award is given to individuals under the age of 40 who have been nominated by members of their communities for showing initiative and dedication to providing significant and positive contributions to their communities.

“The 40 under 40 award showcases the accomplishments of both current and future Native American leaders,” Gary Davis, president and CEO of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development said in a release. “The future of Indian country will be shaped by exceptional leaders such as Carri who have proven their unrelenting dedication to enhancing the lives of those around them.”

Jones has been recognized by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development for her accomplishment in becoming the first woman and youngest person to be elected Tribal Chair. The organization noted her recent appointment as a board member of the Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota Board of Directors and her successful career in tribal government administration, finance and Indian gaming.

Award winners will be honored in Milwaukee on Wednesday during the Reservation Economic Summit at the 39th annual Indian Progress in Business Awards gala.

Dayton also declared October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Minnesota. The governor’s office reported 63,000 Minnesotans sought assistance from domestic violence programs in 2013. One in three women have been a victim of domestic violence and on average only one in five victims seek help.

The proclamation of Domestic Violence Awareness Month was requested by the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women which offers a 24-hour domestic violence crisis hotline (866) 223-1111 which victims can report abuse or seek help.

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