2017: Year in review

By Ken Luchterhand


Employees concerned at possibility of Food and Beverage outsourcing

Rumors of outsourcing the Food and Beverage Department at Ho-Chunk Casino and Convention Center in Wisconsin Dells had been circulating for a while among the employees.
As a result, informational meetings about Food and Beverage and Group Sales outsourcing were held at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 16, at Ho-Chunk Casino.
It became a hot topic on social media, with Ho-Chunk tribal member Kelly Logan often being at the forefront of the discussion.
“People are coming to me with their concerns,” he said. “We needed to have a discussion with management about this.”
In reaction to that concern, Ho-Chunk Nation Business Department Executive Director Robert Mudd issued a memo on Jan. 9, confirming that outsourcing is a possibility and explaining that rumors of employees losing their jobs are false.
“Why outsourcing? First and foremost is the lack of positive cash flow from this area. Net income has been in the negative for a very long time. Who is at fault for this consistent loss of positive revenue is anyone’s guess,” the memo stated.

Census concluded, numbers released to public

The 2015 Ho-Chunk Census has concluded and the results have been released. The data was given to the Ho-Chunk Legislature during the week of Jan. 23.
“We were targeting a 70 percent response rate and received 51 percent,” said Planning Division Director Michael Rave. “Still, it was a success. We had a much better response than our previous census, which was only 23 percent.”
To achieve the results, Census staff used a variety of methods in contacting Ho-Chunk members for data. Those methods include online form submission (34 percent), paper form (12 percent), telephone (3 percent), and field workers (1 percent), according to Projects Specialist Angie McDonald.
Gathering of Census information began in December 2015 and concluded in August 2016.
The data collected shows that 2,862 people completed the surveys. Also, 468 or 19 percent of adults listed that they are unemployed or underemployed and looking for other work.
There are 196 members, or 8 percent, who noted that they currently own a business. The median income of respondents is $30,000 per year. There are 12 percent who indicated they do not have health insurance or do not understand tribal health programs.

Dells Head Start receives reassurance from state-of-the-art surveillance system

Before someone noticed that the building lacked digital surveillance, the school had always been safe.  Not once had it fallen victim to any kind of illegal activity.  Nonetheless, two of the parents thought they should strengthen the school’s defenses against prospective wrongdoers.  So to step up security, Chad Strampe and his wife Anastasia decided to donate a state-of-the-art surveillance system to Neenk Chungra Head Start in Wisconsin Dells late last year. 
“We knew it was something that they really needed,” Strampe said, “(given) a lot of the unfortunate events that we’ve seen over the last few years.” 
Strampe owns and operates a Baraboo-based business called Star Connection, which has specialized in security systems for the last decade. 
“We’ve been in business over 20 years,” Strampe said.  “We started out doing satellite dishes.  That was kind of our big thing.  But we’ve done satellite dishes.  We’ve done cell phones.  And about 10 years ago, we got into security systems.” 
After realizing that Ho-Chunk’s Head Start in the Dells had no surveillance system, Strampe pitched the idea of getting one installed to Family and Community Partnership Coordinator Kathy Witkus.

Casino expansion contractor under scrutiny for Ho-Chunk hiring practices

Carson Funmaker is concerned that Ho-Chunk workers aren’t getting what they were promised, but representatives of the Nation say the pay is dependent on union representation.
Funmaker says Miron Construction, the construction company hired for the casino expansion, agreed that Ho-Chunk construction workers would be getting $26 an hour.
“But they’re only getting $12 an hour,” Funmaker said. “And they aren’t making a point to hire workers who are Ho-Chunk.”
And Funmaker questions why Legislature didn’t include provisions in the contract with Miron Construction to hire a certain number of Ho-Chunk members and guarantee a decent wage.
According to Tribal Workforce Development Manager Angela Ward with the Ho-Chunk Nation Department of Labor, Miron Construction was telling attendees of a job fair that workers could receive up to $26 an hour for working on the casino expansion projects. But those figures were for union wages in skilled positions, Ward said. Anyone starting as a general laborer can expect to get starting wages around $12 an hour.
Ward sent an email to the general manager at Miron Construction on Dec. 16, 2016, asking him the number of Ho-Chunk and Native American employees projected to be hired with the project, but no answer has been received at this date.

Former president returns, makes heritage a primary focus

Jon Greendeer gently turned an ancient artifact from the mid-1800s in his hand, admiring the feathers and deer hooves. It was a Ho-Chunk artifact from the mid-1800s, had he respected the way someone finely created the intricate pieces.
After serving as Ho-Chunk president from 2011 to 2015, Greendeer looked forward to being home more often and enjoying life without the commute and daily grind. He enjoyed that time away, but now has returned as the Heritage Preservation executive director, having started the job on October 13, and being nominated on Oct. 18 and Legislature accepting his confirmation on Nov. 8.
Now, he is back to work with the Nation in a new job position, some more inspiration and a new light. The artifact in his hand is the embodiment of his desire to keep Ho-Chunk members in touch with the past.
“I think about the fact that someone back in the 1850s held it in his or her hand, the colors it once exhibited and the amount of thought they put in it,” Greendeer said. “Someone made this when Millard Fillmore was president.”

Twelve Clans looking for director, ready to begin investment strategies

Twelve Clans, Inc. was established in an effort to separate government and business, a concept that has been in progress for 20 years.
It formally received the send-off on Oct. 18, 2016, when the Ho-Chunk Legislature approved an investment of $95 million to invest for the future of the Nation. The commitment is $20 million for the first year and $15 million for each of the next five years. 
The concept of Twelve Clans has been in progress and it is intended to diversify the revenue stream outside of gaming.
Since the funding was approved, the Twelve Clans Board of Directors have been working to set everything in place to begin its objective of making money for Ho-Chunk members.
 “Twelve Clans Board of Directors remain very busy with finalizing the strategic plan, implementation activities, and recruitment, in addition to their general governance activities,” said Twelve Clans Treasurer Joanne Whiterabbit. “Since the Annual Shareholders meeting in September, Twelve Clans presented a plan and request for capitalization to the Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature, which was approved on October 18, 2016.” 


Siga Funmaker Community Center opens with ribbon-cutting ceremony

Many people in the Wittenberg area agree that Georgiann "Siga" Funmaker was a pillar in the community. She helped develop and form many of the institutions and programs built around the word “community.”
Because of the deep respect of her peers, on Thursday, Feb. 16, a new community center was christened in her name.
Members of the community, young, old and between, gathered together to cut the ribbon as a symbolic beginning to the Siga Funmaker Community Center on Radke Road near Wittenberg.
Siga Funmaker’s daughter, Lanette Walker led the cutting of the ribbon, which involved everyone present. People stood along the sidewalk in front of the building, grasping the ribbon in one hand and a pair of scissors in the other.
“Most of you who knew my mother, knew that she was about all of us – not just about some of us. She would want everybody to be included in the ribbon-cutting ceremony.”
When given the word, all participants cut their section of the ribbon.
Before the cutting of the ribbon, Ho-Chunk President Wilfrid Cleveland and Vice President Darren Brinegar spoke before the crowd.

U.S. Mint honors Native American effigy mounds with new quarter

A part of native culture was honored nationally with the newest release in the "America the Beautiful" quarter series.
The quarter, featuring Effigy Mounds National Monument in eastern Iowa, officially launched to a crowd of more than 1,000 on Wednesday, Feb. 8, at the Waukon High School in Waukon, Iowa.
Iron Mound Drum Group, a Ho-Chunk traditional drum group, provided the music and the combined honor guards of the Andrew Blackhawk American Legion Post 129 in Black River Falls and the Sanford WhiteEagle American Legion Post 556 in Baraboo provided the presentation of colors.
One of the speakers and honored guests was Edmore Green, tribal chairman of the Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska. He represents one of the many tribes that have a cultural association with Effigy Mounds.
“It’s very wonderful that we can come here and you can understand the essence of this coin and the essence of the effigy mounds. So that you can understand, especially our young people here, you can understand that we were never discovered, we were always here,” Green said.

New program to opens doors to the entertainment world
When Corey White hits the stage, his talent as lead guitarist with the band Kalliah and the Blackwater leaves little doubt that the man knows his music.
His knowledge of entertainment goes way beyond what he offers when he is on stage.
Officially launched about a month ago, White now offers training for businesses and agencies to book their own nationally-known entertainers.
White is the owner of CRW Productions, a Minneapolis-based business that books national entertainers for venues such as Native American casinos. It’s this behind-the-scenes work to bring a performance to the audience that is his livelihood, with his knowledge spanning several decades.
Expanding that knowledge, White has begun a new venture by publishing his book, Guide to Booking National Entertainment, which is used as a how-to guide in the entertainment industry.
He’s offering an educational service so that businesses can book their own entertainers and save thousands of dollars in the process.
“I’ve written the book. And when I say that I wrote the book on it, it means I wrote the book,” White said.

A festival atmosphere provides cultural learning at Winter Camp 2017

Wood smoke curled into the sky and the sound of people’s cheerful voices filled the cold winter air behind the Tribal Office Building in Black River Falls.
About 300 people attended the Winter Camp 2017, held on Saturday, Jan. 28. Half of those in attendance were children, and all came to enjoy the festivities.
The cultural event was the creation of Heritage Preservation Executive Director Jon Greendeer.
“Winter Camp 2017 was an attempt to showcase a few small but intriguing parts of a vast way of life many of us don’t get to see or experience in today’s times,” Greendeer said. “Although we have lost much, dwelling on our losses is not the key to the survival of Ho-Chunk way of life. Celebrating and passing down what we have, is.”
The effort was a pilot program to see if the event was a good way to open doors to many people, especially the people who may not have access or who may not have felt particularly welcomed into this realm, Greendeer said.
Three tents utilized were from the Ho-Chunk Camp set up at the Oceti Sakowin site in Cannonball, North Dakota during the NoDAPL gathering of Water Protectors.

Edgewood College Gallery unveils new Native American art exhibits

Visitors to Edgewood College Gallery have been treated to three new art exhibits that highlight the history of Native Americans in the United States.  The exhibits were unveiled in an opening reception held on Jan. 26, where art enthusiasts could meet the curator as well as the artists themselves. 
“Re-riding History: From the Southern Plains to the Matanzas Bay, The Art of Ho-Chunk Basket Making and John Hitchcock: Protectors are all exhibits happening simultaneously within the same building,” said Gallery Director David Wells.  “Each of the exhibits has been created by Native American people.  They’re very different in terms of context and content.  But they’re all about Native American experience and Native American culture.” 
The main exhibit, Re-Riding History: From the Southern Plains to the Matanzas Bay has traveled the country for the last two years and been considered a contemporary portrayal of historical events. 
“I contracted to bring that exhibition in because it brings American history home in a big way,” Wells said, “and speaks to that history from a contemporary perspective.” 
The exhibit was curated by three college professors trying to retrace the experience of 72 Native Americans that were forcibly removed from their home and imprisoned at Fort Marion in St. Augustine, Florida. 

AmeriCorps Volunteers dig in to help Ho-Chunk Organic Gardening project

A new concerted effort is underway to help the Ho-Chunk tribe come closer to food sovereignty.
Melanie Stacy, Grants Assistant with Ho-Chunk Housing and Community Development Agency (HHCDA), is spearheading the effort that will provide more organic vegetables and other wholesome food to Ho-Chunk families.
To make that possible, an assessment of Ho-Chunk members and communities will be done to find out the existing situation, and what needs to be done.
Heath Littlejohn has been hired as Garden/Food Assessment Coordinator through a Food Sovereignty Assessment grant provided by the First Nations Development Institute. First Nations, based in Colorado, is an organization to strengthen American Indian economies to support healthy Native communities throughout the United States.
Involvement from the Ho-Chunk Nation Departments are already underway.
Also joining the crew are Jessika Greendeer and Jim Price, both AmeriCorps/Vista volunteers who will be helping the development of organic village gardens.
This is the fourth year of reaching out to Ho-Chunk communities to establish organic gardens, but one thing Melanie needed was staff to help in the longevity and reach of the program. But this year, that staffing gap has been filled.


Forum examines Waksik Wosga Leave abuse

A public forum on Waksik Wosga Leave was held at Ho-Chunk Cinema in Tomah on March 15. The goal was to get input on possible changes or the end to the Nation’s Employment Relations Act’s (ERA) Waksik Wosga Leave Policy.
John Steindorf was the facilitator of the forum and introduced Heritage Preservation Department Executive Director Jon Greendeer, who gave opening comments.
“Wosga leave is a sensitive matter that is discussed behind closed doors.  Wosga leave allows tribal members to experience and participate in our cultural ways. There have been cases of abusing it. We want to get input so we can make it clearer to administer the leave,” Greendeer said.
“Is it in the right place?” he said.
Currently, the Wosga leave is administered by the Personnel Department, who also enforces the ERA.
Greendeer talked about how Wosga was examined few years earlier. Like any law, it evolves, he said.
“We want to build a collective solution to present at the next legislative session. There is no right or wrong solution,” Greendeer said.

Bronson Koenig offers his image to help stop distracted driving

Badgers basketball star Bronson Koenig wants to make sure that everyone remains safe whenever motorists hit the road.
To make this happen, he has agreed to have his image on display on banners and billboards throughout Wisconsin. The message is to encourage drivers to end distracted driving, such as texting while driving.
The effort is a campaign conducted by Candice Green, Motor Vehicle Injury Prevention Program coordinator for the Ho-Chunk Nation.
There are 10 billboards throughout the state, all touting the same image and message to motorists passing by.
“There are billboards near Stevens Point, Eau Claire, La Crosse, and on Highway 54 near Black River Falls between the Ho-Chunk offices and the casino,” Green said. “Some of the billboards are electronic, so the message changes on a rotating schedule.”
The host companies donated the spaces for each of the billboards: Lamar Advertising Company and Fairway Outdoor Advertising, so there was no cost to the program.
Some of the banners and billboards will be up during April, which is “Distracted Driving Awareness Month.”
“We are blessed to get our message all over Wisconsin,” Green said.

Ceremony honors Marie Lewis as she begins her retirement

After a lifetime of working for the Ho-Chunk Nation, Marie Lewis has decided to retire.
A retirement party for her was held Tuesday, March 21, in the Tribal Office Building atrium.
Taking the podium, Personnel Executive Director Carol Garvin offered a few words of appreciation for Marie’s service to the Nation.
Her most recent job as an Elder Insurance Manager, Marie worked with elders to obtain the correct health insurance to ensure their claims are properly handled. Before that, Marie was the Tribal Aging Unit director.
“Marie might be retiring from working with the Nation, but she is not retiring as a Ho-Chunk member. She is active in the community. She supports family and Ho-Chunk members in their endeavors,” Garvin said. “She’s a role model for everyone.”
Since she made known her plans for retirement, she has been training the person who will take her position, Tanya Kessen.
Then, Marie’s grandson Marcus Lewis took the podium and told the audience that he was raised by her. He said he appreciated her kindness and the fact that she is always caring for people.

Fundraiser for Clemons turns into a close shave

Everyone appeared to be anxious for a hairy situation on Monday, Feb. 27
Employees and visitors gathered around in the Executive Building atrium to witness two Health Department officials having their heads and beards shaved.
Jess Thill and Rob Voss took center floor to submit themselves to the roar of the crowd and the woman at the shears.
That woman was Kathleen Clemons, who was not only the designated barber, but also the beneficiary of the event.
“The fundraiser was for Kathleen Clemons, who is battling stage III breast cancer. We were trying to raise money to help with her medical costs,” said Louise Voss, of co-worker of Clemons. “We raised the funds through a chili cook off, a silent auction and by donations.”
They charged $5 for the chili entry fee, $5 for all-you-can- eat chili and $1 for frybread.
“The goodwill donations were for the end goal of shaving Rob Voss and Jess Thill’s hair and beards off. Some of the donated money also came from some activities Brianne Massman did with her Lunda Center PiYo Group and personal Beachbody group,” Voss said.
Healthy Native Sports Summit offers new beginning for fit lifestyle

In his youth, Ernie Stevens Jr. was always trying to find a way to become involved in alcohol, drugs and fights. In 1981 during a confrontation, a man slashed him in the face with a linoleum knife and left him severely wounded.
“I almost died because I was being stupid,” Stevens said. “I could have walked away, but I was determined to fight.”
From his experience, his message is to walk away from trouble and to try to help people, rather than hurt them – to work hard for what is good.
Stevens, an Oneida, was the keynote speaker for the Second Annual Healthy Native Sports Summit, held Thursday, March 9, at the House of Wellness in Baraboo. The event offered a variety of workshops throughout the day on topics of keeping active and staying healthy.
Ernie Stevens, Jr. is the chairman and national spokesperson for the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) in Washington, D.C.  Stevens is currently completing his seventh two-year term as the organization’s leader, which is a position elected by the member tribes of the National Indian Gaming Association.

‘Rights of Nature’ examined to water, air, and plants the claim to exist

David Greendeer is making an effort to preserve nature from destruction at the hands of humankind.
He is working to develop “The Rights of Nature,” as expressed in a resolution at the 2016 Ho-Chunk General Council meeting.
Greendeer spoke before Ho-Chunk members at the District I Area Meeting on March 8 to let everyone know what is being proposed.
The Legislature needs to amend the Election Code so that “The Rights of Nature” can be placed on a Secretarial Election. If the Legislature can amend the code, it is possible that it will be on a Secretarial Election sometime this summer, Greendeer said. If passed, the amendment to the Constitution will give waterways, air, soils, plants and animals the right to exist.
This right would provide backing to resist developing frac sand mines, pipelines, high voltage transmission lines.
Greendeer is the Official Tribal representative for the Indian Country Infrastructure and Energy Workgroup of the Department of Energy; the Negotiated Rule Making Team Representative for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); the BIA Roads Team and the Mairakara Workgroup.


Nation’s website is hacked, but is now up and running

Electronic media with the Ho-Chunk Nation took a big hit on Monday, March 6.
That’s when the Nation’s website crashed, falling victim to some hacker in search of money.
The hacker, making the website inaccessible to anyone until a ransom was paid, encrypted the content of the website. Hence, the name of the software used by the hacker is called “Ransomware.”
It was first noticed that morning, when someone was trying to access a form, but it wasn’t appearing. Shortly after, several other people reported the same problem, said Ho-Chunk Nation Information Technology Director Lael Hall.
Because the national news had keyed in on accusations of Russian meddling in electronic activity in the country, one of the first questions people had was, “Did the Russians do it?”
In answer to that question, tracing the person or persons responsible is nearly impossible.
IT has access to a world map provided by Kasperski, a computer antivirus and internet security firm, that shows the real-time hits on computer systems worldwide. It shows that hundreds of systems throughout the world are randomly being hit every minute.

‘Neither Wolf Nor Dog’ film portrays Native American real life struggles
The new Native American film, “Neither Wolf Nor Dog” made its Wisconsin debut at the Ho-Chunk Cinema in Tomah.
In the film, Lakota elder and actor Dave Bald Eagle makes a huge impact on viewers with his wisdom and knowledge of his near century of living. He passed away last July at the age of 97.
The film began showing on Friday, April 21 and will continue until at least Thursday, May 4. The directors of the cinema are considering extending it for another week. Show times are at 1:15 p.m., 4:10 p.m., 7:10 p.m. and 10 p.m.
It’s based on the 1996 novel, “Neither Wolf nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder.”
The independent film is a low-budget production, but the producer and director, Steven Lewis Simpson, has created a high-quality movie that is competing with high-budget films from Hollywood.
Tomah is the first town in Wisconsin to show British director, Steven Lewis Simpson's film adaptation of acclaimed, best-selling Native American novel, “Neither Wolf Nor Dog,” authored in Minnesota by Kent Nerburn: The films narrative is a road trip from Minnesota through the Dakotas, and was filmed mostly in South Dakota.

Tribes throughout the country take part in Nation to Nation Indigenous Relay

On April 22, the world celebrated Earth Day and tribes all across our country ran the Nation to Nation Indigenous Relay through their respective lands to encourage environmental awareness. 
“We’re running with other indigenous nations that are in our country,” said Ho-Chunk tribal member Paul Roberts.  “And I think the idea of it is absolutely beautiful.” 
The event was promoted by a prominent Native American activist and motivational speaker, Waylon Pahona Jr., who went live on social media in March to announce the challenge. 
“We are calling all our native runners to relay across their homelands,” said Pahona.  “The purpose of this run is to connect ourselves to the lands where we come from, to pray for our water.  Since the beginning of time, our ancestors have carried vital messages from tribe to tribe through endurance running.  Before the railroads and before the automobiles, we used our natural energy to get us where we needed to go.  The nonrenewable natural resources of our planet are under attack.  And as indigenous nations, we have the strength and the ability to show the world a better way.” 

Holsey expresses message of working together at annual State of Tribes address

Stockbridge-Munsee President Shannon Holsey stressed unity among Wisconsin tribal nations, rather than division.
“Unity does not have to mean uniformity,” she said. “It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within everyone. ‘We the people’ means everyone.”
Holsey presented the annual State of the Tribes address on Tuesday, April 4, at the State Capital in Madison.
Throughout her speech, she urged lawmakers to use their roles as leaders to include a wider range of people in conversations and understand other sides.
She also touched on topics such as conservation, education, language, health care, the economy, and the need to rebuild the infrastructure.
At the beginning of her speech, she offered praise for Ho-Chunk member and veteran Myrle Thompson.
“I am extremely honored to pay special recognition to two Veterans, Stockbridge-Munsee Tribal Member Ernestine Murphy and Ho-Chunk Nation Member Myrle Thompson,” Holsey said. “World War II US Marine Specialist Ernest Murphy and Korean War veteran Meryl Thompson served their country honorably and with dignity.

DNR staff springs into action to save co-worker's life

On March 15th while on assignment, Lance Blackdeer noticed his friend and coworker, Greg Blick, was not his usual self and appeared to be very tired and not responding to some questions. Greg got out of his climbing/cutting gear and the crew headed toward the local Plaza. After purchasing some aspirin and something to drink, Greg collapsed. Lance’s instincts as a First Responder kicked in. He began taking immediate steps to resuscitate his unconscious coworker while his partner and emergency certified DNR worker, Reiss Blackhawk, secured the public area and remained on hand.
Lance yelled out, “Call 9-1-1!” then called for an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) having just updated his First Responder certification days before. As luck would have it, another first responder happened to be on site and took off to the fire station which was coincidentally located right next door. According to the record, Greg's heart stopped for 4 minutes, but Lance refused to make “that call” to Greg’s parents. He kept with compressions as he was trained to do and literally breathed life back into his friend.

Second group of Ho-Chunk Code Talkers honored with Congressional Silver Medals

Seven more Code Talkers from the Ho-Chunk Nation were honored with Congressional Silver Medals during a presentation ceremony at HCG-Wisconsin Dells last week, on April 7, in recognition of their service in the United States military during World War II.   
“We really respect the Code Talkers a lot,” said Navajo Army veteran Erwin Begay. 
For throughout the war, the Code Talkers used their Native language to transmit messages that the enemy could not decipher.  This unique ability made them particularly valuable to the American armed forces. 
“In times of great need,” Language manager Adrienne Thunder said, “our language was more than we could’ve ever imagined.” 
Understanding the importance of these Native American tribal members to our military, our enemies would often target the Code Talkers – as they would our medics – in combat.  That meant a greater chance of being wounded or killed in action. 
“There were a lot of lives lost,” Thunder said, “a lot of blood shed in order to protect the land that is left there for us.” 
The seven Code Talkers recognized at this year’s ceremony were Army veterans Donald Greengrass, Donald Blackdeer, Irvin Blackdeer, Alfred Oliver Stacy, George Green, Adam Littlebear Jr. and Navy veteran Alvin Blackdeer. 


New HCG-BRF hotel receives the ‘topping’ treatment, considered a milestone

A crane loomed in the background of the new hotel construction the morning of Friday, May 19, reaching its arm and dropping its load of fresh cement onto the top. The workers dashed about, first evening the mixture across the surface, then smoothing the top to a glassy surface.
The cement poured on the corrugated metal sheets, with a mixture of rebar and wire at various spots.
The process might have appeared to be a usual one, one that has been going on for some time, but this was an occasion to be marked and remembered.
It was the topping of the new hotel addition at the Ho-Chunk Gaming – Black River Falls site.
 “In the world of construction, the topping of the roof is a milestone,” said Henry Corken, project manager with Hill International Inc., Phoenix AZ. “At 64 feet, it’s the highest building in the area. With the roof poured, it’s the end of climbing for the construction crew.”
The cement is of lightweight nature, a mixture of fiberglass and other strength-added material.

Koenig works out with the Milwaukee Bucks

Ho-Chunk tribal member and former Wisconsin Badger point guard Bronson Koenig moved on to the next chapter of his basketball career when he worked out with the Milwaukee Bucks at their St. Francis Training Center on Thursday, May 18.
Koenig has come a long way from his days of looking for pick-up games at the La Crosse YMCA gym. He led his high school team, La Crosse Aquinas, to two state championship titles, and was named Wisconsin Player of the Year by the Associated Press during his senior year.
The workout is generally a 3-on-3 game among six draft prospects the team is considering to sign to a contract.  The players demonstrated their skills for teams to assess against their team building strategy.
“It was a really good workout. I thought I was doing really well until I rolled my ankle a little bit. But it’s fine. I thought I shot the ball really well. It was my first workout. It was fun. It was exciting,” Koenig said.

Timber Run land is being turned into trust land, asking owners to make contact

As the Ho-Chunk Nation continues to acquire more land, the newly formed Realty Division is doing what it can to make everything a smooth process.
Timber Run is something they have been working on for a long time, but progress is finally being made.
The Timber Run community is located straight west of the Rocky Arbor exit on the I-90/94 north of Wisconsin Dells, or north of the Christmas Mountain community.
There are two types of land when it comes to land ownership, said Realty Division Director Matthew Carriaga.  The first type is private ownership, also referred to as “absolute ownership, which also is called “Fee Simple.” Fee Simple is subject to the state, county and town real estate taxation and zoning. The Nation can own it just as a land owner and not the governing entity.
The second type is considered “trust” property, which is not taxable by local governments and is owned by the United States in trust for the Nation and its member and leased to the homeowner.

More space allows pharmacy to expand into new services

When the doors were opened for the newly renovated and expanded Black River Falls pharmacy in December, it also opened the doors to new possibilities.
With the added room, staff and services, the pharmacy staff projects an increase of at least 50 percent to double in business.
“We have much more space now,” said Pharmacy Manager Lt. James G. Buel, PharmD, RPh. “In the former pharmacy, it was so small that it had gotten to the point where we were literally tripping over each other.”
Now, moving into the expanded and renovated facility has meant that they can do things more efficiently, plus offering new and more services.
In fact, the changes have made it possible to hire two more pharmacists.
Melanie “Lanie” Hanson will be starting on May 15. She was a student pharmacist at the BRF pharmacy last summer and she was interested in coming back on a permanent basis. She returned to school to finish her education, graduated on May 13, and will be returning to the Ho-Chunk Pharmacy.

Ho-Chunk treatment court programs join forces with Black River Memorial Hospital

A recently signed agreement between the Ho-Chunk Nation and Black River Memorial Hospital will help Ho-Chunk Nation court programs.
Representatives from the Jackson County Court, the Ho-Chunk Healing to Wellness Court and Family Wellness Court and Black River Memorial Hospital gathered at the hospital on Thursday, April 27, to recognize that successful partnership.
“The agreement will allow the staff at Black Memorial Hospital to conduct drug testing when we aren’t available, such as holidays and weekends,” said HCN Healing to Wellness Court Project Coordinator Robert Mann.
The drug testing is random and required with any court, including the two Ho-Chunk courts and the Jackson County Treatment Court.
The courts provide the testing supplies and have provided the training to properly obtain the samples. Lab technicians conduct a urinalysis to determine if illegal drugs are present and, if a positive result is obtained, the sample is sent to another laboratory for confirmation. All results are emailed to court coordinators on a regular basis.
Until this agreement, Mann and HCN Family Wellness Court Assistant Clerk Shelley Wilkinson had to be available from the respective court 24 hours, seven days a week for testing.

New Ho-Chunk Food Distribution truck helps for more deliveries

A shiny new truck now is bouncing down the highways and byways of Wisconsin, delivering food to the people in Ho-Chunk communities.
Food Distribution has replaced their outdated diesel-powered refrigerated truck with a new Dodge Ram Promaster 3500 truck with 250-square-foot refrigerated cargo space.
“The Dodge Ram Promaster is twice as large in capacity compared to the recent fleet refrigerated vehicle within our FDP fleet,” said HCN Food Distribution Director Andrew Rave.
“We have also been awarded the Urban Waiver to expand services to HCN members or other federally recognized tribes in cities over 10,000 population such as Wausau, Marshfield, La Crosse and Eau Claire to name a few within our service area,” Rave said. “We look forward to continuing our FDP Program objectives and also expanding service area to include Dane County (Madison Area) in the fiscal year 2018 beginning in October of this year.”
The truck costs approximately $45,000 and it was necessary to attach the refrigeration unit, which cost another $10,000. A separate vendor in Chicago installed the refrigeration system. That installation took approximately two weeks.


Same-sex marriage provisions approved by Ho-Chunk Legislature

With approval by the Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature, same-sex marriages now have legal rights within the Ho-Chunk law.
On June 5, the Legislature approved an amendment to the Marriage Ordinance, which was originally adopted on October 19, 2004.
The amendment was introduced by Rep. Henning Garvin and seconded by Kathyleen Lone Tree-Whiterabbit. It passed with a 13-0 vote.
The United States Supreme Court ruled on June 26, 2015, that gay and lesbian couples have the same right to marry as heterosexual couples. The topic has proven to be one of the most contentious social issues in U.S. history.
“We began work on the marriage ordinance this past fall essentially in response to a housing concern,” Garvin said. “In the previous version of the ordinance, common-law marriage was recognized, with the only provision being that individuals who were cohabitants for seven years or more would be recognized as married and receive the same benefits as married couples.”
This has posed issues especially in some probate cases when there arises a dispute or disagreement within families on whether or not someone really was a cohabitant for an entire seven years, Garvin said.
Thompson brother lend their hands for Ho-Chunk lacrosse camp

Three of the biggest names in lacrosse, Miles, Lyle and Jerome Thompson, took to the baseball fields in the Sandpillow community in Black River Falls on Monday, June 19, to offer their advice to budding youth players.
It was part of the Lacrosse Camp, held June 19-22, sponsored by the Ho-Chunk Business Department. There were 65 youth who attended the camp.
The three Thompson brothers are considered some of the top players in the country and are starters with the Georgia Swarm, formerly the Minnesota Swarm, a professional lacrosse team.
The Ho-Chunk Nation had an agreement with the Swarm since 2015, when the Nation agreed to sponsor the team. Part of the agreement is that the team would provide a youth lacrosse training camp. The Ho-Chunk Nation Business Department took on the duties of conducting the camp and providing equipment to the youth, while the Swarm provided the instruction, according to Chief Operations Officer Robert Reider.
“The event went great.  I was happy to see so many youth in attendance considering the weather.  We had youth from MN and Oneida youth in attendance,” Reider said.

Family Wellness Court honors Garvin as first graduate

Henu Garvin has two lives: one from her past and one she is living now. She is glad she has arrived with a much more healthy and stable life.
It was a long and difficult journey to get where she is today, but now that she has arrived, she is glad she took that first step.
Garvin is the first graduate of the Family Wellness Court and was honored with a graduation ceremony on Wednesday, June 21, at the Ho-Chunk Tribal Court Building in Black River Falls.
Family Wellness Court is a Ho-Chunk program that is instrumental to getting drug offenders back on track to a clean lifestyle.
The Family Wellness Court involves children and the parents, of which the mother and/or father are undergoing AODA counseling and the children are taken away by means of CHiPs (Child in Need of Protection and/or Services) petition. By participating in the voluntary program, they can get their children back sooner.
To comply with the requirements of the court program, individuals must undergo random drug testing. A team of experts in various professional fields is assigned to each individual.

Election results in four new legislators, two incumbents

Winners of the June 6 election were certified at the Ho-Chunk Election Board special certification meeting on Wednesday, June 7, at Comfort Inn and Suites, Black River Falls.
Winners in the election are Karena Thundercloud, Hinu Helgesen Smith, Kristin White Eagle, Carly Lincoln, Kathyleen LoneTree-Whiterabbit, and Matt Mullen.
The Election Board certified the results from each polling place. It was reported that eight ballots were spoiled due to errors made by voters and replacement ballots were given, and two ballots were challenged.  One of the challenged ballots was because of a voter was attempting to vote out of the area of residence without changing the listed address and the other was because the voter was in the facility and wanted to vote 20 seconds after the closing time.
The Election Board did not accept the ballot from the person voting out of the area, however, the other ballot by the late voter was accepted because the doors were not locked precisely at 7 p.m.
Members inspected each of 63 absentee ballots for correct dates and Notary Public certification.
Tribes testify in support of Assembly Bill 114

On Thursday, June 1, a few tribes testified in support of Assembly Bill 114, which would add criminal penalties for battery of tribal judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement, before the Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison.
Tribal officials from the Ho-Chunk Nation, Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa, and Oneida Nation gave testimony before Chairman John Spiros (R-Marshfield) and the other committee members.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Jeff Mursau (R-Crivitz), the chairperson of a State and Tribal Relations Committee that a state statue directs the Joint Legislative Council to create.
“It’s a pretty straight forward bill. It is often the case that when a bill is being draft or introduced, that they don’t contain language that explicitly includes the tribes living in Wisconsin. It isn’t intentional, but it is important that we extend the same opportunities and protections given to Wisconsin citizens to members of our tribes,” Rep. Mursau said.

#StoptheStigma campaign supports people with addictions

With one slogan, Tena Quackenbush wants people to become aware that people with addictions are real, loving, caring people, who deserve to be treated with respect.
Quackenbush developed the “StoptheStigma” movement and now she is spreading the news.
She developed the awareness campaign after an incident she experienced on Facebook. She explained that she had a drug problem in the past, but the person responding to her post called her a druggie and a junkie.
“I thought this is what the problem is,” Quackenbush said. “People are being labeled for being addicts. How can people be helped if people are labeling them, like they are diseased?”
She shared her past and she knows how powerful and hard it is to stop.
Quackenbush is a program manager with the Family Services Program of Ho-Chunk Nation Social Services. Her work with #StoptheStigma is on her own and has no connection with her employment.
She said addiction is “cunning, baffling and powerful,” because it frequently takes over people’s lives.


‘The Art of Ho-Chunk Basket Making’ comes to Native Presence Art Gallery

Community members witnessed the opening of a new exhibit at Native Presence Art Gallery in Wisconsin Dells earlier this month, looking at “The Art of Ho-Chunk Basket Making.” 
“This is the third exhibit that we’ve had here at the gallery,” said gallery director Melanie Sainz.  “And it’s just a blessing.” 
The exhibit opened on July 15, and has showcased the work of several renowned Ho-Chunk basket makers.  About a hundred pieces made by them and other skilled artists have been included in the display. 
“We’re looking at the crème de la crème,” Sainz said, “ideal examples of shape and functionality.” 
The baskets were curated by two collectors who wished to share their interest with the public.  One of them was Mike Schmudlach, who serves on the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Board of Curators.  Over four decades, he has amassed an extensive collection of more than a thousand Ho-Chunk baskets.   
“I’ve been collecting for many years,” Schmudlach said.  “And I’m just trying to bring a lot of it back home.” 
Schmudlach stated that, after having collected for so long, he can identify artists by their work.

Ceremony dedicates clinic classroom to the memory of Eileen Decorah

What was formerly known as the Ho-Chunk Clinic classroom has a new name, dedicated to someone who made strides in the improvement of tribal members’ health.
The room is now dedicated to Eileen Decorah, a long-time advocate of Ho-Chunk health.
A dedication ceremony for Eileen was held Friday, July 14, in the conference room in Black River Falls. A plaque honoring Eileen was on display, along with a framed recognition citation signed by the Ho-Chunk Nation president and vice-president. Both will be permanently hung in the room.
“The dedication was very beautiful and heartfelt, said Neile Decorah, Eileen’s daughter. “My family and I would like to thank the Ho-Chunk Nation and everyone that helped in the planning of this room dedication in recognizing and honoring my mother. When I walk through the clinic and see her plaque hanging on the wall it brings a smile to my face.”
Eileen’s daughters, Lynne Decorah-Tippery, Neile Decorah and Rhiannon Blackdeer de Prado were seated at the head table during the ceremony. Other family members were present as well.

House of Wellness holds second annual Ho-Chunk Wellness Day

Ho-Chunk tribal members who wished to take part in the second annual Ho-Chunk Wellness Day gathered at House of Wellness in Baraboo earlier this month.  Many of them came to enjoy the various forms of fun physical activity that were offered there. 
“Our primary purpose for the House of Wellness being here is to serve the Ho-Chunk people,” said Fitness Supervisor Lance Tallmadge. 
“And when we look at our numbers, we have a lot of tribal members that are enrolled here as members of the fitness center.  But we don’t see them on a regular basis.  So we just feel that one way to draw them in is to have events like this.” 
The event took place on July 14 and included activities such as a wellness walk, youth dodgeball, pow-wow dancing and assorted aquatic games.  Kicking off the day was a 5K run for all ages. 
“We had some young kids that did the entire 5K,” Tallmadge said.  “They were out there with their parents.  So it’s families like that who instill the importance of health and wellness at an early age.”

Ho-Chunk Nation holds swearing-in ceremony for officials elected into tribal government

The Ho-Chunk Nation held a swearing-in ceremony at its casino in Baraboo earlier this month, on July 5, to administer the oath of office to recently-elected members of its government. 
“It’s a beautiful day,” said tribal member Martin Little Wolf Jr.  “It’s a good day for celebration.” 
Taking the oath were eight legislators and a Supreme Court associate justice who won this spring’s election.  Each will serve four years in office.     
The list of legislators included tribal members Karena Thundercloud (District 1, Seat 1); Hinu Smith (District 1, Seat 3); Kristin WhiteEagle (District 2, Seat 2); Carly Lincoln (District 2, Seat 3); Lawrence Walker Jr (District 3, Seat 2); Kathyleen Whiterabbit (District 5, Seat 1); Robert Two Bears (District 5, Seat 3); and Matt Mullen (District 5, Seat 4).  Reelected to the associate justice position was tribal member Tricia Zunker. 
“I’m really thankful,” Little Wolf said in response to the results.  “We’re looking forward to good things.” 
Prior to introductions, Little Wolf offered a prayer in which he acknowledged all the new members of his Nation’s government. 
D-Day Native American hero honored with park dedication in France

One moment in history changed the world forever.
That moment is known as D-Day, when Allied forces surged ahead on the beaches of Normandy, France, to begin taking land back from the occupying German forces during World War II.
To mark that occasion, Ona Garvin, Department of Health director, traveled to Normandy France for a ceremony for the dedication of  the Charles Shay Indian Memorial and the sacrifices made by Native Americans at the site on that day.
Taking place on June 5, 1944, D-Day was one of the most pivotal points in humankind’s history. It also was one of the bloodiest, with many of the infantrymen cut down with a firestorm of bullets by German military situated in concrete pillboxes on the hillside above the beach.
Allied forces overtook those beaches, but with a heavy cost of American, Canadian and British lives. Allied casualties were at least 10,000. There were 170 Native Americans who came ashore that day. Of those, only 50 are known. Gavin believes that some of those unknown Native Americans are Ho-Chunk.

After three decades, Puent retires, honored with retirement celebration

After 37 years of dedicated service, Ruth Puent has decided to retire.
In honor of her service to the Ho-Chunk Nation, a retirement celebration was held on Monday, July 10, at the Ho-Chunk Health Care Center, Black River Falls. Approximately 75 people attended.
Ruth’s last day was June 30. She was the Community Health Representative supervisor with the Ho-Chunk Health Department.
Larry Walker conducted the ceremony and Bernice Blackdeer offered the prayer.
The first to speak was Linda Severson, a former grants writer and health education director, who retired about 11 years ago. She said she spent many years out in the communities and Ruth has helped her with each of her programs.
“Because of Ruth’s leadership, the CHR Program has had very little turnover. It’s been maintained at a very high level. Without an excellent staff, we wouldn’t have the quality program that we do.”
Ho-Chunk Nation President Wilfrid Cleveland said that he appreciates Ruth’s accomplishments and sacrifices she has made on behalf of the Nation. He said he feels good that everyone was able to give her a farewell and to give her some encouragement.


Ho-Chunk’s Higher Ed Division commends its summer interns at recognition luncheon

The Ho-Chunk Nation’s Division of Higher Education acknowledged its summer interns during a recognition luncheon in Black River Falls earlier this month, to mark the end of their 10-week program. 
“This class was fantastic,” said Division Manager Marcus Lewis.  “Just to hear the work that these folks did this summer is incredibly inspiring.”  
The event took place on Aug. 11, at the Skyline Golf Course clubhouse.  There, the six students who participated in the 2017 internship program were recognized for everything they had accomplished during their two and a half months on the job. 
First to address the audience was Executive Director of Education Nehomah Thundercloud, who expressed her gratitude to those in the Higher Ed Division.  She praised them for their hard work, and for extending such a unique opportunity to young tribal members.   
“I want to thank the Higher Ed staff,” said Thundercloud.  “The students had very successful experiences at their sites.” 
The executive director then explained the purpose of an internship, and all the benefits of taking part in one. 
Wogixete Wi (Loving Us) Powwow advocates a compassionate approach to substance abuse

Over two hundred tribal members attended a powwow in Black River Falls last weekend, to offer their support to those affected by drug and alcohol addiction. 
“We have so many people that are sick and suffering,” said tribal member Tena Quackenbush.  “And we just want them to know that we are here for them.” 
The gathering was held on Aug. 12 at the Indian Mission, and called the Wogixete Wi Powwow.  Its name came from the Ho-Chunk language, and has been translated to the ‘Loving Us’ Powwow. 
“I was trying to figure out what we need to do to bring our people back to us,” said Quackenbush, who helped coordinate the event.  “And the words ‘loving us’ came to mind.” 
Quackenbush used the powwow as a way to advocate love and compassion toward those who are struggling, rather than bitterness or anger.  She said that positivity is the only effective way to address the problem. 
“Love is the ultimate key,” Quackenbush said.  “That’s the very beginning – letting our people know that we love them.” 

Ho-Chunk athletes recognized at Indigenous Games banquet

It was a celebration of trials and triumphs, successes and defeats, but mostly it was about the gathering of Ho-Chunk athletes who competed on an international stage at the Indigenous Games.
A banquet to recognize those efforts was held on Sunday, Aug. 13, at the Ho-Chunk Convention Center, Wisconsin Dells.
Athletes and their families gathered to talk about their journey to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, their competition experiences, and the results of their efforts. The Indigenous Games were held July 16 to 23, which involved athletes from the United States and Canada. The event is conducted every three years.
Damian Thundercloud was the master-of-ceremonies. Lanette Walker said she was grateful that Nicole Oknewski provided the leadership this year for the Ho-Chunk group in Team Wisconsin, since she had previously been in that capacity for many years.
“Watching our young people compete at a high level in their various forms of athletics is something that, as a spectator and a tribal member, I will take with me forever,” Thundercloud said.
“Seeing their excitement, from the opening ceremonies to when they’re on the medal podium, is something they will not forget,” he said.

Lawsuit filed to determine President Cleveland’s conviction status

The issue of Ho-Chunk President Wilfrid Cleveland’s record has surfaced again.
Gary Funmaker has filed a lawsuit against Cleveland and the Wisconsin Department of Justice in hopes of clarifying whether Cleveland is considered a felon or not.
The Constitution of the Ho-Chunk Nation states that a felon cannot serve as president.
An article about the issue was published in the Wednesday, July 26, 2017, issue of the Jackson County Chronicle. The article told about the history of the charges and Funmaker’s efforts to get a final determination.
Although Cleveland has declined the offer to make a statement to the Hocak Worak regarding this issue, in the past he said that the felony charge was reduced to a misdemeanor and that he served his time for that charge.
Determining whether Cleveland is a felon or not normally would be a simple procedure, looking at the court records from 1972, when the violation occurred, However, the court records were all kept in paper back then, and a distinct decision on the matter is not so apparent.
“That’s what makes it so difficult. The court records from back then are not clear,” said Jackson County Clerk of Court Jan Moennig.

Heroin addiction epidemic countered with Nation’s Tribal Action Plan

The heroin epidemic has hit the people in the United States hard. It has spared no community, affecting both urban and rural areas.
That is true within the Ho-Chunk Community as well. In the last year, several Ho-Chunk member deaths have been attributed to drug overdoses.
To combat the growing epidemic, departments within the Ho-Chunk government have banded together to create the Tribal Action Plan, or TAP for short, with a resolution adopted by the Legislature on July 6, 2016.
One of the leaders in the TAP effort is Ho-Chunk Nation Head Pharmacist Ted Hall, who is also a board certified psychiatric pharmacist.
Besides enabling the Nation to make a concerted effort in combatting the problems associated with drug and alcohol use, the TAP makes the effort more competitive for grants, Hall said.
The TAP is a product of the newly-formed Tribal Coordinating Committee, which includes several Ho-Chunk governmental bodies, including President Wilfrid Cleveland.
What has heighted the drug epidemic is that drug dealers first were adding fentanyl to the heroin to make the user’s reaction to the drug use stronger. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.

Man Mound becomes a National Historic Landmark

Mound enthusiasts from across the state attended a gathering in Baraboo last month, to witness the designation of Wisconsin’s most celebrated effigy mound as a National Historic Landmark. 
“This is a very special day for Man Mound,” said Ho-Chunk Nation President Wilfrid Cleveland.  “And it’s great that all these people could come and be a part of it.” 
The event took place at Man Mound County Park, where the prehistoric earthwork is located, and commemorated the site’s designation as one of only 43 National Historic Landmarks in Wisconsin. 
Representatives from the Historical Society spoke solemnly about the virtue of such a distinction.  
“National Historic Landmark designations are very rare,” said State Historic Preservation Officer Jim Draeger. 
“And it’s really difficult to have a property designated.  It’s a long and arduous process that takes years.  You have to do a significant amount of research and documentation.  You have to make your case that, in the history of the nation, this thing stands out as important.  So that designation is important because leading authorities in the country on archaeology and Native culture have determined this is one of the most significant sites in the entire United States.” 


General Council addresses 18 resolutions at annual meeting

The General Council branch of the Ho-Chunk Nation government held its annual meeting in Madison at the Alliant Energy Center’s Exhibition Hall on Saturday, September 16. The General Council addressed 18 resolutions during the nearly six hour meeting.
Roll call was established through registration at 10:12 am.
Tribal elder Dennis Funmaker was appointed as Sergeant-at-arms.
Quorum is set at 20 percent of the voting population of 5,930 eligible voters, so 1,186 registered tribal members were needed to start the meeting. This year’s meeting had 2,192 registered General Council members.
This year’s annual meeting reached quorum at 11:14 am.
Matt Mann served at emcee to get announcements and the meeting running. Mann opened the nominations to elect the chairperson to conduct the annual meeting.
Chairperson nominations included Gary Funmaker, Gerald Cleveland, Charles Hindsley, and Forrest Funmaker. Cleveland won with 797 votes.
As the chairperson, Cleveland appointed Pamela Wilber as the recording secretary, and Tina Brown to assist her.
Chairperson Cleveland called the annual meeting to order at 11:48 am.
Ho-Chunk Nation President Wilfrid Cleveland offered the opening prayer.

Documentary and photography artist captures Ho-Chunk life with ‘Project 562’

It’s been a long, difficult task. Although it may be a lot of work, it’s one she is doing from the heart.
Matika Wilbur, a member of the Swinomish and Tulalip tribes of Washington, is working to capture the images, the voices and stories from each of the Native American tribes in the United States.
She’s working on her fifth documentary, this one named “Project 562,” with the number 562 referring to the number of Native American tribes in the United States.
She intends to visit and record comment of respected leaders of each of the tribes.
On Wednesday, Sept. 13, Ho-Chunk Chief Clayton Winneshiek was the subject of her investigation. She arrived in her Winnebago motor home that afternoon at Winneshiek’s home, where they gathered on lawn chairs in the back yard.
“I planned to approach it from a matter of identity, such as ‘What it means to be Ho-Chunk,’ or whatever tribe. I soon got tired of that. Now I’m approaching it as a ‘Natural Wonderment’ – a connection of each tribe with the land,” Wilbur said.

Deputy makes a hoop dream come true for children

The children at the Nekoosa Youth Center had a surprise visit on Saturday, Sept. 2 from Wood County Deputy Nathan Dean.
The surprise wasn’t so much that Deputy Dean showed up, it was what he brought with him.
He presented the Youth Center with a present: a brand new basketball stand, backboard and hoop.
He had been there before and saw what kind of backboard they were using and he had to do something about it.
“On May 26 of this year, I was on patrol down by the casino and when I had driven by the Youth Center,” Dean said. “I saw a group of kids playing basketball, so I felt like it was a good time to pull on in there and shoot some hoops with them. I pulled in and we actually ended up playing a couple games of basketball in the parking lot of the youth center. We had a great time.”
He noticed that the backboard was complete shattered, with three or four holes and very little of the backboard actually left, he said.

HCG-Wisconsin Dells bids farewell to its international workers at end-of-summer luncheon

Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells held a farewell luncheon in its convention center this month, to say goodbye to over 30 international students who had worked in the hotel area this summer. 
“We had fun,” said 21-year-old Turkish student Irem Akakus.  “Everyone was really good to us, too.” 
The luncheon was held in the casino’s Upper Dells Ballroom, where the departing workers were treated to a buffet-style meal and an abbreviated performance of the Wasira Native Dance Show. 
Students said they enjoyed the food, and were grateful for the unique opportunity to experience a culture that was so much different from their own. 
“I love their dance,” Akakus said.  “If I have time, I will learn how to dance like that.” 
The students were then recognized for all the hard work they had put in during their time there.  Each of them was presented with a beaded keyholder, which would forever serve as a symbol of appreciation for their service. 
“It was special,” said Akakus.  “There’s no word to describe it.” 

Hocak Worak wins 14 National Native Media Awards

The Hocak Worak staff made a trip to Anaheim, California to attend the Excellence in Journalism and Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) annual convention to learn the newest journalism trends and tricks of the trade. The convention serves as a time to recognize excellence in reporting by native and non-native journalists from the U.S. and Canada.
The convention was held at the Anaheim Marriot, next door to the Anaheim Convention Center and Disneyland, on September 7 to 10.
The convention brought together journalist working in print, television, and radio among the ranks for various organizations, such as the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA), Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), and NAJA.
The annual gathering offers a time to recharge and refocus by networking with journalism peers and discuss hot topic issues while sharing coverage strategies.
The journalists also take time to mentor and encourage journalism students to become future leaders in the field. The Native American Journalists Association hosted 10 journalism students from throughout Indian Country within Native American Journalism Fellowship class of 2017.

Decorah begins new life with Family Wellness Court’s support

It is a long, rocky struggle to begin a journey down a different path. Sometimes that alternative path is the only pathway that will save a person from himself or herself.
Karie Decorah has succeeded in changing that course in her life, and now she has a much better future, not only for herself, but also for her children.
Karie graduated from the Ho-Chunk Nation Family Wellness Court in a special celebration on Wednesday, Aug. 30, at the Wa Ehi Hoci.
Her children, Cassady, 9, Talina, 6, and Camilla, 4, were her special guests for the event, happy to be reunited with their mother.
The Family Wellness Court is a multiphase program that guides them to a new lifestyle, free from substance abuse and the bad influences that led them down the wrong path.
“There are goals and rules to guide them in structure,” said Ho-Chunk Nation Family Wellness Court director Shelley Wilkinson. “I’m told it’s like eating an apple from the bottom up. They’re used to a certain lifestyle and we’re turning it upside down.”


National Congress of American Indian convenes in Ho-Chunk territory
The National Congress of American Indian (NCAI) held its seventy-fourth annual convention at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee during the week of October 15 to 20.
The six day convention is a gathering of tribal leaders to discuss important issues faced by tribes when dealing with federal government. Issues range from community, culture, economic development, education, health, land and natural resources, veterans, and tribal governance.
The Ho-Chunk Nation was a platinum sponsor of the annual convention and was the co-sponsor of the Opening Night reception at the Harley Davidson museum.
One of the major tasks accomplished at the convention is to act on resolutions proposed by tribes on various issues and develop a consensus position from NCAI.
Resolutions are received three weeks before the annual convention and designated committees or subcommittees will review and make recommendations before posting resolutions on the NCAI website for members to review and research.
At the convention, those committees and subcommittees hear from the proposing tribes and interested parties about the resolution at scheduled meeting times and locations solidify the group’s position on the issue.

Supreme Court hears arguments in HCN Gaming Commission v. HCN Ethics Review Board
The Ho-Chunk Nation Supreme Court held oral argument at the tribal court building on Oct. 14, to hear from both parties involved in HCN Gaming Commission v. HCN Ethics Review Board. 
The case has been the focus of much attention throughout the Nation’s gaming establishments, and revolves around actions taken by the gaming commission in 2015 – when it revoked the licenses of HCG-Black River Falls’ top two financial officers. 
“The gaming commission arbitrarily revoked the gaming licenses of CFO Steve Mach and Casino Controller Trina Johnson,” stated Executive Manager of HCG-Madison Dan Brown.  “They did so without charges, and without due process.” 
The move resulted in Mach and Johnson’s immediate termination, since both of their positions had required a gaming license.  They were escorted from the premises the very same day they learned of the commission’s intentions to revoke their licenses. 
“I was unable to continue as Casino Controller,” Johnson stated, “because a license is necessary for gaming employment.” 
They each filed a grievance within days of their dismissal, citing a lack of due process. 

Cameron Logan lives the world of lacrosse, makes it his passion
A 15-year-old sophomore from Baraboo has his sights set on playing lacrosse at a highly ranked college and he’s well on his way to making that dream come true.
Cameron Logan, son of Eric and Edita Logan, spent the summer playing for Team Amplify, a lacrosse team from Marquette University in Milwaukee.
From that experience, Cameron hopes he can play at a higher level that will propel his play to be noticed on a national level.
“My goal is to play lacrosse as a way to get in a great college – to be the best I can be personally,” Cameron said. “My end goal is to live a life that lacrosse helped me build,”
He first became interested in lacrosse when he was in fifth grade.
“A couple of my friends were doing it and it was something new. I was never really playing a spring sport, more into playing football and hockey, he said. “I just like playing sports, so I thought playing lacrosse would be fun for me.”
For most sports, everything came rather naturally for him, but for lacrosse, everything was new, he said.

Ho-Chunk Nation voices its support for Assembly Bill 118

Representatives of the Ho-Chunk Nation attended a public hearing in Madison earlier this month, to let legislators know that their tribe supports a bill to be introduced in the Assembly. 
The hearing took place on Oct. 3, before the Assembly Committee on Environment and Forestry. 
The group spent the afternoon listening to testimony, from legislators and members of the public, on Assembly Bill 118 (AB118) – which would strengthen protection of burial sites in Wisconsin, including the state’s thousands of effigy mounds. 
First to speak was Rep. Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton), who chaired the study committee that helped draft AB118.  She highlighted the bill’s seven, key provisions. 
The first would require sellers to disclose the existence of a burial site on their property if they are aware of it.  The measure would increase transparency in the home-buying process, and ensure that prospective buyers know about any sites located on the land.    
“There isn’t anything in current law that would require knowledge of a burial mound on your property to be disclosed,” Loudenbeck said.  “So we folded that into the existing real-estate disclosure form.” 

Newly released study shows cancer trends within Ho-Chunk communities
Almost everyone has had contact with cancer.
People either have had cancer themselves, or know of a family member or friend who has had cancer.
That’s why getting a better understanding of it can help prevent or treat it.
“Disparities in Cancer within Ho-Chunk Contract Health Service Delivery Area 2003-2012,” a study of cancer and how it affects the Ho-Chunk population has recently been released. The study was conducted by the Carbone Cancer Center at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
The study shows that the incident and mortality rates for lung cancer are lower in the Ho-Chunk region than other Native American regions, but much higher in colorectal cancer incidences and mortality. Also, prostate cancer among men is more prevalent, as well as breast cancer among women.
In this study, Native Americans are referred to as American Indians.
The Spirit of Eagles and the Cancer Health Disparities Initiative, which are programs of the Carbone Cancer Center, has a history of working with tribes concerning cancer trends and rates among American Indians in Wisconsin, according to Rick Strickland, program director at UW’s Cancer Health Disparities Initiative (CHDI).

Ho-Chunk author Chandler creates new book, ‘Running to Never’
When Larinna Chandler was a child, growing up in the Black River Falls area, she would fill her creative cravings by writing on paper plates.
By the time she was 8, her teachers in school would lecture her about plagiarism because her writings were so advanced beyond what other children were writing, they concluded there was no way she actually wrote those words, sentences and paragraphs.
“I was writing way over my age,” Larinna said. “At that time, I was reading adult-level books, like Louis L’ Amour.”
Now that she is an adult, she uses that creative writing energy to craft books for publication. Larinna is a proud Ho-Chunk tribal member and she works for the Ho-Chunk Food Distribution Program in Black River Falls.
“Running to Never,” her third work, has just been released on ebook and soon will be available in paperback. She is working to get the book made into a movie.
It is the story of a little girl, Eva, and a Nazi officer, Josef Roehm, during World War II.


Wittenberg casino double floor space with expansion opening

Outside the Ho-Chunk Gaming – Wittenberg casino, it was cold, barren, and snowing, but inside it was warm, dry, and full of people.
The ribbon cutting and opening of the newly-expanded gaming floor on Wednesday, Nov. 1, brought people from far and wide, all eager to take part of an exciting venture that was many months in the making.
Groundbreaking for the expansion took place Sept. 21, 2016.
Elite elder Dolli BigJohn performed the honorary designation of being center of the cutting of the ribbon. LeAnthony Pecore was the master-of-ceremonies.
“Today, it is our great pleasure to open up the expanded gaming floor,” HCG-Wittenberg Executive Manager Fletcher Collins said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “All casino staff, construction, contractors, and Ho-Chunk executive management staff, have worked diligently since our groundbreaking to get to this day. It has been a lot of long hours, stressful situations, frustrations and personal victories have been made. We all work together hard as a team.”
The new gaming floor doubles the previous square feet, which was 1,000 square feet and is now about 2,000 square feet, Collins said.

Greendeer and fellow environmental activists gather at US Rights of Nature Symposium

Environmentalists from around the world attended the 1st U.S. Rights of Nature Symposium in New Orleans last month, to discuss the future of environmental protection in the United States. 
“It’s a real privilege to share the stage with these speakers,” said Australia’s Michelle Maloney. 
The conference took place on Oct. 27, at Tulane Law School. 
Dean David Meyer welcomed everyone to the college, and explained why the setting of their conversation was so significant. 
“This is not only an important time to take up this topic,” Meyer said.  “But this is an important place for those conversations to happen.  Louisiana is a place of unsurpassed splendor in terms of the beauty and bounty of nature, but also unsurpassed in terms of the vulnerability of nature.” 
He cited the extensive coastal erosion that has afflicted the region, and the dramatic land loss that has resulted from it.  He said such things make the topic seem less abstract, and much more concrete in nature. 
He wished everyone success in the work that lay ahead. 

Koenig and Hayes await NBA opportunity in NBA G League

Two former Wisconsin Badgers teammates, Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes, have to “trust the process” and wait for their opportunities to play in the NBA by playing NBA G League basketball.
Both went undrafted in the NBA Draft.
Koenig signed to a two-way contract with the Milwaukee Bucks nearly immediately after the draft. He was waived by the Bucks, and a week later signed by the Chicago Bulls to a training camp contract. The Bulls waived him and signed with the Windy City Bulls.
Former Wisconsin Badger Duje Dukan is also on the Windy City Bulls roster, but is inactive due to a scope on his knee. He will return in a couple of weeks.
Hayes signed with, and later waived, by the New York Knicks. Then joined the Knicks G League team, the Westchester Knicks.
The G League, the NBA’s proving grounds, has prepared players, coaches, and other staff for the NBA since 2001.
This year a major sponsorship from Gatorade will change the NBA Development League to the NBA Gatorade League or G League for short.


Greendeer shows her best at nationally-televised dog show: Westminster next in her sights
Brittany Greendeer’s love for dogs goes well beyond a hobby or an occupation.
It’s her life.
Brittany appeared on the national television on Thanksgiving Day, showing Quill, a wirehaired Vizsla, on NBC’s 16th annual edition of its popular holiday special “The National Dog Show Presented by Purina.”
Although Brittany feels at home in the show ring, this time it was a little different.
“It was a little more stressful, mainly because they reminded us about 20 times that is was going to be on national TV,” she said. “But once I got into the routine, I was fine.”
Brittany is the daughter of Jon “Maasusga” Greendeer and Stacy Sieber.
Multi Group Placing CH Zoldmali Fanni CA, better known as “Quill,” is owned by Megan and Eric Wallendal of Pivot Kennels in Grand Marsh, Wisconsin, and Brittany has been hired to train him, make him presentable, and take him into the show rings.
Brittany is now living in North Carolina, having moved from Wisconsin Rapids a year ago. Now she makes a living by training, handling and showing dogs for other people.

Supreme Court renders a verdict in HCN Gaming Commission v. HCN Ethics Review Board

The Ho-Chunk Nation Supreme Court recently reached a decision in one of the most publicized cases ever to be heard at the tribal court building in Black River Falls. 
It would mark the end of a long legal dispute between two bodies within the Ho-Chunk Nation. Formally known as HCN Gaming Commission v. HCN Ethics Review Board, the case has called public attention to the Nation’s appointed officials and their exertion of power. 
“It’s a compelling story,” stated Executive Manager of HCG-Madison Dan Brown.  “It’s an issue that directly affects the Nation’s lifeblood.”
The dispute began in August 2015, when the gaming commission suddenly revoked the licenses of the top two financial officers at HCG-Black River Falls.  Since regulations prohibited the two from operating without a gaming license, their company was forced to terminate them.   
A complaint was filed against the gaming commission with the Ethics Review Board (ERB), which found that the regulatory body’s actions were in violation of the Nation’s Code of Ethics. 
To penalize them, the board assessed a fine against each of the commissioners and recommended that they be removed from the gaming commission entirely. 

HHCDA plans to equip 98 more houses with solar panels
Neil Whitegull, executive director of Ho-Chunk Housing and Community Development Agency (HHCDA) hopes every house owned by HHCDA will be equipped with solar panels.
The organization has been working toward those ends and plans to equip another group of houses, this time houses from three communities in the Wisconsin Dells
HHCDA has been awarded a $600,000 Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant, which will be combined with the required investment of $200,000 from HHCDA, Whitegull said.
The organization had a similar solar panel project for Sandpillow in Black River Falls about three or four years ago, Whitegull said. That project included 52 units.
While solar panels are available to complete a variety of tasks, the solar panels that HHCDA plans to purchase and assemble on their houses are photovoltaic, meaning they will produce electricity from sunlight. That electricity will be tied into the electrical grid to reduce the amount needed from other sources, thereby reducing the electric bill each month.

Journey of Hope provides encouragement for diabetes patients
The 12th Annual Journey of Hope Conference provided motivation and information to people with diabetes how to cope with their affliction and how to better their lives.
The conference was held Tuesday, Nov. 14, and Wednesday, Nov. 15, at the Ho-Chunk Convention Center in Wisconsin Dells.
More than 280 people were in attendance for the event, 98 of those were tribal members who are not employees of the Ho-Chunk Nation.
“This is really great to see as this means we were able to get the word out to our tribal communities that this event was going on, said event organizer Sara Peterson, Ho-Chunk Nation Health and Wellness Coordinator for the Diabetes Prevention Program. “Our changes, in the way we market our events, are showing a positive response.”
This year’s theme for the event was “Protecting the Generations: A Lifespan Approach to Diabetes.”
“This theme is central to my own beliefs and the foundation that we are laying here at the Health and Wellness Division,” Peterson said. “The best way we can beat diabetes and obesity from overtaking our tribal members is through education, starting at an early age all the way up to our elders.”

Wisconsin Historical Society celebrates Native American Heritage Month with local authors
The Wisconsin Historical Society held an author talk with writers of Hidden Thunder:  Rock Art of the Upper Midwest in Madison last month, in recognition of Native American Heritage Month. 
“Whatever can be done to raise awareness about Native American Heritage Month is a good thing,” said author Geri Schrab.  “There’s not enough visibility of it, in my opinion.”
The talk took place on Nov. 7, at the Wisconsin Historical Museum.  There, Schrab and fellow author Ernie Boszhardt explained everything that went into creating their 160-page book as well as some of the reasons behind writing it in the first place. 
“Most people are not aware of the rich Native American history of Wisconsin,” Boszhardt said. 
“Then you get into something as unique as rock art and the vast majority of people have no idea that this exists in Wisconsin, and that it was done by the ancestors of the Ho-Chunk and other indigenous tribes in this region.  But it’s there.” 

Veterans powwow honors World War I Red Arrow Division soldiers

Each year for 40 years, the Ho-Chunk people have honored the nation’s veteran for their service and sacrifice to the country.
That observance is signified with a powwow at Volk Field, a dedication filled with honor of this country’s military personnel, past and present. This year, the 40th Annual Veterans Powwow was held on the actual Veterans Day, November 11.
Approximately 200 people gathered at the powwow to honor the 28 Ho-Chunk men who joined the Wisconsin National Guard to play their part in World War I.
The 32nd “Red Arrow” Division, which continues today as the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, headquartered perhaps a mile from the hangar hosting the annual pow-wow.
Bill Miner, Jr., according to Quentin Thundercloud, a member of Descendants of Red Arrow and coordinator of the event, originally started the powwow.
Each of the descendants of the World War I Red Arrow Division were presented with an eagle feather staff by powwow emcee Michael Day.
This year’s event focused on the original 28 men who joined Mauston’s Company D, 3rd Wisconsin Infantry Regiment.

Day after Thanksgiving declared ‘Ho-Chunk Day’ in Madison

During its most recent meeting, the Madison Common Council passed a resolution proclaiming the day after Thanksgiving as “Ho-Chunk Day” throughout the city of Madison. 
“I can’t tell you how much that means to us,” said tribal member Carly Lincoln.  “To have this acknowledged here in our state capital just means so much.” 
Sponsoring the resolution were all 21 members of the legislative body, including the mayor.  They handed the floor over to District 11 alder Arvina Martin for a reading of the text. 
“The Ho-Chunk people are descendants of the effigy mound builders,” Martin said, “and are the aboriginal inhabitants of the Madison region.” 
Shortly into the reading, Martin disclosed that she was actually a member of the Ho-Chunk tribe herself. 
“I’m saying ‘they,’” Martin said, “but I’m also one of them.” 
The alder proceeded to read each of the clauses contained in the resolution, providing a brief history of her people and their long-term occupation of the Madison area. 
“Historic documents describe the Ho-Chunk as a large and populous tribe of 10,000 that occupied more than 10 million acres of land in much of Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois,” Martin said.