2021: Looking Back at the Year for LCO
The year 2021 was an interesting year for the LCO Community with over $40 million dollars in ARPA funds received to explode the local economy, Covid continuing to effect our daily lives, and unprecedented loss to our families many deaths experienced. As the year closes out and we welcome a new year, we take a look back at many of the major headlines here at LCO News.
Chairman Taylor among the first group to receive vaccine Jan. 8
On Wednesday, Dec. 16, LCO Chairman Louis Taylor and Vice-Chairwoman Lorraine Gouge, along with three members of LCO Health Center administration, were the first five persons at LCO and Sawyer County to receive the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer that is being rolled out nationwide this week.
LCO Clinic Director Gary Girard, the clinic’s medical director, Dr. Steven Miszkiewicz, and staff physician, Dr. Harry Malcomb, joined tribal leadership at Noon today at the clinic for the first vaccinations.
After year-long delay, hemp production set to begin Jan. 22
After a year-long delay in hemp production planning at Lac Courte Oreilles, the LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) held a zoom conference with several persons involved in a research grant awarded to the LCO Ojibwe College that would provide for a hemp growing partnership between the Tribe, college and UW-Madison. The other persons include Amber Marlow of the LCO College, Dr. Shelby Ellison of UW-Madison and Thi Li, Director of Operations for the Sokaogon Medicinal Corporation (SMC).
Back in May of 2020, TGB member Tweed Shuman said Legal advised the TGB they couldn’t move forward on their plans at the time because the Tribe’s Department of Agriculture, although approved in the Hemp Ordinance, hadn’t yet been established, nor had a Regulator been hired.
Sheriff tells TGB he will instruct deputies to refer non-criminal cases to LCO Jan. 22
On Nov. 25, the Tribe and the Sawyer County Sheriff’s Department renewed their annual Law Enforcement Agreement for 2021, and one significant change was the implementation of a system to insure that all non-criminal citations issued within the LCO Reservation exterior boundary would be processed through LCO Tribal Court rather than the county court system.
This past week the Sheriff met with the LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) to discuss the process of establishing and implementing an efficient system for all county deputies to refer all civil violations/citations occurring on the reservation to the tribal court, which, as part of the agreement, was to be created within the first three months.
Sheriff Doug Mrotek told the TGB that he would immediately issue a memo to all of his deputies instructing them to refer all non-criminal citations written within the reservation boundary to the LCO Police Department to process through tribal court, which would serve as the process while the county’s corporate counsel and tribe’s attorney would set up a meeting to go over legalities and jurisdictional questions.
Healing to Wellness Court celebrates first graduate Feb. 5
The Lac Courte Oreilles Healing to Wellness Court, which started in September of 2018, celebrated its first graduate, Jasmine Carillo, with a special ceremony held for her at the Peter Larson Room of the Tribal Office on Tuesday, Jan. 26.
The Tribe received a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to create a Tribal Healing to Wellness Court and according to Susan Aasen, the Healing to Wellness Court Coordinator, the project goal is to enhance the outcomes for youth and families by integrating a problem-solving approach to address the specific, chronic and underlying problems of substance abuse by parties involved with the Tribal Court system.
Recent revenues lead to LCO Bucks distribution Feb. 5
After receiving monthly profits from Tribal Enterprises and the annual Enbridge payment of just under $2 million (story inside this issue), the LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB), at their meeting on Jan. 26, approved giving a gift card distribution to the LCO Tribal Membership.
LCO TGB member Tweed Shuman, seconded by Don Carley, motioned to give every adult tribal member $100 in gift certificates, to be known as LCO Bucks, was unanimously approved by the TGB. The gift certificates are to be used at any tribal enterprise and comes from the Tribe's General Fund above and beyond the Tribal Budget.
Four new homes to be built at Four Corners Feb. 5
Plans for the first four homes of a new subdivision located at the Four Corners Area of the LCO Reservation are currently in the works. The project planner, Jason Weaver of the LCO Grants Department, told the LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) on Tuesday, Jan. 18, that the four homes could be built along Schoolhouse Road across from the new LCO Fire Hall at a far lesser cost because they can tap into existing infrastructure, which includes sewer, water and electric.
On Monday, Nov. 30, Weaver reported to the TGB the plan for the new subdivision at the Four Corners area in the northwest corner of the intersection was moving forward after Coleman Engineering completed a topographical survey and layout which included approximately 30 units.
LCO Ojibwe School sees attendance and enrollment increases Feb. 19
LCO Ojibwe School K-12 Superintendent, Jessica “Hutch” Hutchison, reported on Friday, Feb. 5, the school’s attendance is up this academic year and new enrollment has also increased.
“As we work to prepare for our upcoming Accreditation Review next month we are looking closely at data and trends,” Hutch explained. According to data for the past ten years, “Our enrollment continues to climb this year, with 5 transfer students already in the month of February.”
According to the image graph below, enrollment at both, LCO Ojibwe and Wadookadaading Schools has increased nearly 60 students to 351 since last year when enrollment was at 293.
Enrollment at LCO Ojibwe School alone has increased 44 students this school year alone.
TGB approves expanding LCO Youth Baseball with $100,000 financial pledge March 5
At their weekly meeting, Monday, March 1st, The LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) approved using $100,000 from Enbridge funds to financially support LCO Youth Baseball through expanding the program and majorly improving the casino ball field complex.
The new plan increases youth baseball at LCO from one age level to three. In addition to the existing LCO Little League team (9-12 year olds), the Tribe will now sponsor a Babe Ruth program (ages 13-15) and a Cal Ripken machine pitch developmental age group (ages 6-8).
In response to drug dealing on the Rez, TGB passes exclusion and removal ordinance March 5
Effective immediately, the LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) approved an ordinance known as the Exclusion and Removal of Non-Tribal Members from the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians Reservation.
The Order states its purpose is, “To provide a procedure for excluding and removing nonmembers from the Reservation when it is in the best interest of the health, safety and welfare of the Band, or its members, to do so, including the exclusion and removal of nonmembers who act in disregard of tribal or other applicable law, destroy tribal fish and game, trespass upon tribal trust property, pollute tribal lands and waters, destroy real or personal property of the Band, its members or Reservation residents, or endanger or harm the natural, social, psychological or physical well-being of members or other persons on the Reservation.”
The reason for the new ordinance came about in recent TGB meetings discussing their efforts to combat the drug epidemic in the community and reports of non-tribal members distributing drugs on the Reservation.
LCO FS Rapidly Becoming Huge Success Story March 26
LCO Tribal Governing Board Member (TGB) and LCO Financial Services (FS) Board Chairman Tweed Shuman recently reported the tribal enterprise is experiencing rapid growth, more so than anyone could have predicted two years ago. He is referring to a time prior to the hiring of the current LCO FS Chief Executive Officer, Scott Soli, who Shuman credits with the exponential growth.
Soli was hired by the TGB in February of 2020 and at the time LCO FS was operating one portfolio which the Tribe only owned a percentage. Shuman said in one year Soli negotiated a much higher percentage of ownership and launched our own portfolio with 100% ownership. In addition, a third portfolio is also being launched.
25 nominated to run for LCO Tribal Governing Board
Twenty-five tribal members were nominated at the Nomination Caucus for LCO Tribal Governing Board held on Saturday, April 10th. The candidates now have 3 working days to accept their nominations in writing to the Election Committee, also chosen at the Caucus, and go through a background check for any past election fraud or felony crimes. All remaining candidates put on the ballot by the Election Committee will then run for the Primary Election set for May 8th.
The six persons on the ballot who receive the most votes will advance to the General Election where they will square off for the three open seats on the TGB currently held by incumbents Chairman Louis Taylor, Don Carley and Tweed Shuman.
24-Unit Housing Project part of $35 million in federal and state housing tax credits April 30
The award of $35.1 million in federal and state housing tax credits will advance housing opportunity and economic recovery in Wisconsin through creation of 2,200 affordable housing units in the months ahead, Gov. Tony Evers announced Tuesday.
The state and federal housing tax credit awards by the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority support 33 housing projects in 19 communities statewide and cap a highly competitive process that drew requests totaling more than $57 million. The award of $35.1 million represents an increase from the 2020 award total of $31.9 million.
6 advance to General Election on June 19th June 4
A Primary Election was held on Saturday, May 8, 2021, to narrow down a field of 16 candidates for Tribal Governing Board. The top six candidates advanced to the General Election to be held on June 19 at which time, the top 3 will be chosen to serve a four-year term.
Taking the top 3 spots were the incumbents; Chairman Louis Taylor and members Don Carley and Tweed Shuman. Joining them in the General Election are Sirella Ford, Rebecca St. Germaine and James Schlender Jr.
The Official final results for the Primary Election held on May 8 with voting at New Post and Tribal Office are as follows;
1. Louis Taylor – 307
2. Don Carley – 293
3. Tweed Shuman – 240
4. Sirella Ford – 182
5. Rebecca St. Germaine – 171
6. James Schlender Jr – 139
TGB Authorizes $300 in LCO Bucks distribution June 4
The LCO Tribal Governing Board has announced that each Tribal Member when presenting his/her Tribal ID will receive $300 in "LCO Bucks" divided up as follows; one $25 gift certificate to the LCO Country Store and another $25 certificate at either of the two Tribal gas stations; and an additional certificate for $250, with no restrictions, may be redeemed at for cash at the Sevenwinds Casino.
An announcement issued today states that the enactment of the American Recovery Plan has allowed the Tribal Governing Board the ability to assist our members with their financial needs.
Plans emerge to fix Signor water problems June 4
A meeting was held between LCO Public Works, Realty Services, LCO Development and members of the LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) with Brian Breuer of the Indian Health Service, Rhinelander Office, to discuss the ongoing water situation in the community of Signor off Hwy 27/70 at the south end of the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation.
Willard Gouge, Public Works Director, stated in a letter to TGB that his department sampled the water in early April for: pH, Temperature, Alkalinity, Total Dissolved Solids, Lead and Copper, Iron and Manganese, Nitrate, Nitrite and hardness.
“After a preliminary examination of the results, it was found that the problems in Signor are due to increased amounts of Manganese and Iron,” Gouge explained. “These would cause discoloration and funky taste in the water. These exceedances are what is called Secondary MCL (maximum contaminant level) exceedances and not necessarily a risk to human health.”
TGB Approves $1,200 Stimulus Payment from ARP June 18
The LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) unanimously approved a $1,200 stimulus payment to every adult tribal member nationwide, an increase of $200 from the previous CARES Act stimulus. Adults include all enrolled LCO Tribal members who will be 18 years old on or before December 31, 2021.
Two weeks ago, the Tribe received $39 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds to address the Covid Pandemic and its effects on the Tribal Community. The TGB is currently holding meetings to discuss where best the funds would serve the Membership and are planning a series of surveys to gather input from the Membership. In the meantime, the TGB will soon be distributing a direct payment to all the members.
There are just over 7,000 adult tribal members which will result in approximately $8,400,000 expended from the ARP funds.
LCO Ojibwe School joins Indianhead Conference June 18
At the May Board of Control meeting, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association approved a fast-tracked, non-football conference realignment request by Lac Courte Oreilles to move from an independent status to the Indianhead Conference, effective in all sports except football in the fall of 2021-22. Entrance into a conference will expand opportunities for school, team and individual recognition for student athletes as well as guarantee a robust event schedule for the 7 high school and middle school sports at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School. Lac Courte Oreilles joins Bayfield, Washburn, Drummond, South Shore, Solon Springs, Butternut, Mellen, Hurley, and Mercer as Indianhead Conference member schools. All current sport seasons remain the same as pre-Covid, with the exception of middle school girls volleyball (January/February) and basketball (August-October).
Re-elected Tribal Council members sworn in at Inauguration Ceremony July
The Inauguration of re-elected Tribal Governing Board members Louis Taylor, Don Carley and Tweed Shuman took place with a swearing-in ceremony at the Sevenwinds Convention Center on Friday morning, July 2.
Chief Tribal Judge Elaine Smith administered the oaths of office for the three TGB members. Following the oath, Smith asked for nominations to Tribal Chairman, at which time Tweed Shuman nominated Louis Taylor. Taylor was unanimously chosen by the Board after no other nominations were made. The same process occurred for Lorraine Gouge after she was nominated by TGB member Glenda Barber. Both Taylor and Gouge were currently serving in those positions.
Judge Smith asked for nominations to Secretary-Treasurer and Barber nominated current position holder, Michelle Beaudin. TGB member Don Carley nominated Tweed Shuman. A ballot vote was taken among the seven Board members and Shuman won the vote 4 to 3. Shuman will now serve as Secretary-Treasurer for the next two years.
TGB pledges support for LCO Ojibwe School construction and repairs Aug. 20
In cooperation with the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School and the DBS Group, the LCO Tribal Governing Board has unanimously approved 3.4 million dollars of Tribal American Rescue Plan funding to be dedicated to comprehensive repairs, remodels and expansion of 8 major areas of the k-12 school buildings and grounds.
Many of the areas in need of attention are 30 and 50 years old and have been identified in previous safety and facilities assessments, however federal funding and contractors able to do the repairs have been difficult to secure. Additionally, the work, which is slated to begin in early August and completed by April of 2022, will bring the school into Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility compliance.
Community members march to suspected drug dealer homes to protest overdoses Oct. 14
Following another drug overdose on the LCO Reservation that claimed the life of a young man, several community members organized the “Community Against Meth and Heroin March,” which took place on Sunday, Sept. 5, to call attention to the drug epidemic that is currently claiming a dozen lives a year at LCO.
Organized by Charles Jared Kagigebi, Steve Clause and Tony Gouge, the March, started at the Tribal Office Pavilion and found more than 100 community members driving to individual communities and then proceeding to march to several homes where alleged drug dealers reside and sell from.
TGB statement on banishment of suspected drug trafficker Oct. 14
The Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board took action following another overdose death of a young man on the Reservation by unanimously voting in support of using the Removal Ordinance to banish a 48-year-old resident and suspected drug trafficker, Keith Stevens, from entering the boundaries of the Tribe. Stevens is a Lac du Flambeau Tribal Member.
We want the community to know that we will not tolerate these activities any longer on the Reservation and are looking into taking additional action against other non-Tribal Member drug traffickers in our community.
Members are encouraged to call the LCO Police Department at 715-634-8350 or 911 after hours if you see Keith Stevens anywhere within the boundaries of the LCO Reservation. We want all of our members to know that you may face consequences if you harbor Stevens in your home. If you are in a housing unit, you may face eviction. He is not allowed in any business or office building within the Reservation.
LCO Health Director issues vaccine mandate for employees; TGB approves Oct. 21
On Monday, September 27th, with a vote of 4-0-1, the LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) approved a vaccine mandate issued by LCO Health Center Director Gary Girard for all clinic employees. The mandate requires all employees be vaccinated by November 1st.
The motion to approve the mandate was made by TGB Member Don Carley, and seconded by LCO Vice-Chairwoman Lorraine Gouge. Others voting in favor of the motion were LCO Secretary-Treasurer Tweed Shuman and Michelle Beaudin, while Gary “Little Guy” Clause abstained from voting. LCO Chairman Louis Taylor was in attendance but doesn’t have a vote unless there is a tie. Glenda Barber was absent from the meeting.
Transit partnership receives $99,540 grant Oct. 21
A grant from the National Rural Transit Assistance Program in the amount of $99,540 has been awarded to a partnership between Namekagon Transit, the LCO Tribe, Jack Links Inc, Sawyer County Sheriff’s Court Services Division/Huber, and Sawyer County/LCO Economic Development.
The grant, Minong Access Commuter Project, will establish a transportation route from Sawyer County and LCO to Jack Link’s in Minong to provide access to employment for Lac Courte Oreilles tribal members as well as Sawyer County inmates on the work-release program called Huber and former felons who are having difficulty finding employment.
$4.2M Homeowner Assistance Fund will rehab 150 tribal member-owned homes Oct. 28
The new Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) coordinator, Kelly Nayquonabe, met with the LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) at their weekly meeting on Monday, Oct. 18, to discuss the recently approved program. She stated there is $30,000 available per home for mortgage assistance, delinquent property taxes, or renovation or repairs for tribal members who own their own home on the Reservation.
Nayquonabe said there are 150 tribal member homeowners who would qualify under the HAF program. The program is income limited, but more than half the available funds are added by the TGB, which would allow more flexibility in eligibility.
Public Health Officer Reports Covid is Surging at LCO Nov. 18
Editor’s Note: The following report was as of Friday, Nov. 12.
LCO currently has 75 active covid-19 cases. We tested 26 positives for the week and as of 10 a.m. today we had 4 more positives. See message below from Sawyer County. We are currently 3 times higher than the state average. This may be due in part to large gatherings and community members not following CDC guidelines of wearing a face mask, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings, hand washing, and sanitizing. Remember the Delta Variant is more transmissible than previous variants. When someone in the home gets infected, the rest of the family is susceptible to infection as well. Gary Girard, LCO Public Health Officer.
Editor’s Note: The following report was on Monday, Nov. 15.
We are in a current major Covid spike with 15 positive cases TODAY and over 70 in the last 2 weeks, most of the cases are unvaccinated and some who have been vaccinated are either partially or it has been more than 6 months since their second shot!
Kalista Cadotte carries LCO Flag at UW b-ball game Nov. 25
On Monday, Nov. 15th, the University of Wisconsin-Madison honored its Native Students by recognizing them at the men's basketball game as part of Native American Heritage Month. Kalista Cadotte proudly represented LCO at mid-court by carrying her Tribal Flag and wearing a traditional skirt, made by her mother, Mackenzie Cadotte. Kalista currently attends UW-Madison as an undergraduate and is excelling in her current classes. Her Grandfather, Bill Cadotte, helped acquire the LCO Tribal Flag from the LCO Tribal Governing Board, who adamantly supported her request in an effort to highlight Ojibwe college students and our great community here at LCO!
Feather Pole raised at Tribal Office for healing of the LCO Community Dec. 2
A Feather Pole Ceremony was held at the LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) on Monday morning, Nov. 29, to raise a medicine pole at the front of the tribal office meant for community members to offer tobacco and help in the healing of our community after there have been so many recent deaths.
"Our community has been through a lot," stated TGB member Michelle Beaudin. She said two raised garden beds designed by Renee Manuelito are also displayed in front of the Tribal Office, one to acknowledge the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and the other for the many thousands of Native children who were sent to boarding schools and never returned home.
The prayer and blessing of the pole was done by Tribal Elder Dennis White who explained how the feather pole is part of our healing.
Tribe purchases Famous Dave Flowage land after confusion on acreage is cleared up Dec. 2
A Resolution to purchase Chippewa Flowage lakeshore property from LCO Tribal Member “Famous” Dave Anderson was rescinded by the LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) on Nov. 1st with a 5-0-0 vote after Secretary-Treasurer Tweed Shuman made the motion.
Shuman made the motion after it became clear that the land purchase resolution had listed the amount of land to be 28 acres, when in actuality, it was only 7.13 acres. The amount of the purchase was agreed upon at $300,000, and Shuman, along with LCO Chairman Louis Taylor, became concerned about the price when it was realized the cost would be $35,740 per acre.
After rescinding the Resolution, the TGB then voted to approve a new resolution to renegotiate the price with Anderson. After attempts to renegotiate, the land was eventually purchased for the initial price at $300,000.
Tribe, County Strike a Deal to Save $48,000 Law Enforcement Grant Dec. 9
The Sawyer County Public Safety Committee (SCPSC) and the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board (LCOTGB) have created an option for saving a $48,887 County/Tribal Law Enforcement Assistance Grant by creating a joint drug task force.
With a 3-0 vote, with two abstaining, on Monday, Dec. 6 the LCOTGB approved a proposal from the Public Safety Committee to use the $48,887 for a joint drug task force between Sawyer County Sheriff’s Office and the LCO Police Department.