The wind was brisk, but the mood was as warm as the sunshine at the Oct. 21 ribbon-cutting for the new Leech Lake Market (formerly Teal’s) in Cass Lake.
“It’s a chilly day, but there’s a warm feeling in our hearts,” Tribal Chairman Faron Jackson declared. “It’s a good thing we are doing today.”
Jackson thanked former owner Roger Teal for giving the Leech Lake Band first chance to purchase the market, which opened 79 years ago in Cass Lake. “We look at this as a circle; we’re all in it together.”
Speaking to the 80 Teal’s employees who will continue to work at the store, Jackson declared, “You are part of our team!”
Discussions between Teal’s and the Leech Lake began during the pandemic months, as the two worked together to find sources of healthy food for Band members.
The purchase gives the Leech Lake Band the ability to address the critical issue of food insecurity, a major problem across Indian Country, and make healthy food choices available to its members. The health and well-being of tribal members is always at the top of the priority list, the chairman stressed.
Roger Teal echoed Jackson’s remarks.
“Over the years, you have been part of our success,” Teal stated. While selling the store that his grandparents started back in 1942 was “a tough decision and bittersweet,” he agreed “it feels like it’s the right decision. Passing the torch to the Leech Lake Band is a natural fit. I’m sure you’re going to do it proud.”
“Gaming revenue has helped us do wonderful things, and it also helped us purchase Teal’s to create a new business revenue stream,” Secretary-Treasurer Archie LaRose remarked. LaRose also thanked Teal for reaching out to the Band and acknowledged others that took part in the process.
After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, guests were invited to enjoy beverages and snacks inside a slightly-warmer tent — including the famously-delicious Teal’s doughnuts, which will continue to be produced at Leech Lake Market.