Youth Worker Kanani Blackdeer

By Elijah T. Smith

     The Youth Work Program has many outstanding students learning and experiencing the workforce. This summer, Kanani Blackdeer was interviewed along with Lisa Kline on how Kanani is an exceptional youth worker. 

     Blackdeer is an assistant to Lisa Kline, a Supreme Court clerk for the Ho-Chunk Nation Tribal and Supreme Courts in Black River Falls. Blackdeer 17, is coming into her senior year at Black River Falls Senior High School and has been working with Lisa Kline for the last three years as her assistant. 

     When asked how she obtained the position, Blackdeer stated, “My gaga got me the job to stay busy for the summers.” 

     Kanani Blackdeer also added a comment about her supervisor, “Lisa is a cool boss.” 

     There was a significant project that Kanani was deeply involved. The work Kanani completed for this project ensures that the Courts have case files from 1995 to present-day backed up electronically to prevent the loss of those files.  

     Lisa commented on that project, “If it weren’t for Kanani, I would be still working on it to this day.”

     Kanani Blackdeer also helped with the Law Library Project.  A project which helps give access to tribal members on the Ho-Chunk Nation’s website to search and access files, while also making a page for the branches of the Ho-Chunk Nation sites. Each Branch has a hard copy which helps people locate specific files to those branches, which helps make it easier for tribal members and non-tribal members. 

     Lisa Kline provided some statistics on the number of attorneys of law that are Native American. In those numbers, she states the number of Indigenous people in the position is very slim, that of 1.2 million, only 2700 are Native American, which is .03% of those with Native American backgrounds. 

     With that statistic, Kline hopes to leave an impression on Kanani Blackdeer to look at the courts as a career possibility one day. 

     For Kanani, her future is bright. She plans to attend a technical college that offers paramedic training to one day become a flight paramedic. 

     Blackdeer said, “Law school is my backup plan.”