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2023: Counting Down the Top 35 News Stories of the Year

LCO News counts down its top 35 stories of 2023 by total views on the website Stories ranged from economic development with ARPA projects to crime stories to tribal member success stories, but the most dominating stories had to do with the winter assistance payments at the end of the year. Four of the top five read stories of the year had to do with the payments approved by the TGB. So here goes, beginning with the #35 read story and counting down to the biggest story of the year.


35. Commemoration Held to Recognize 100 Years Since the Flooding of Old Post (Mar. 20)


A special event was held at the Sevenwinds Convention Center on March 15 to commemorate to the day, 100 years since the closing of the Winter Dam gates causing the flooding that created the Chippewa Flowage, but at the same time, caused the forced removal of the Lac Courte Oreilles people that lived there and the flooding of many graves and sacred sites.

The event was organized by a collaboration between the people of New Post, the LCO Ojibwe University and the LCO Museum and Visitor Center/Kinnamon School. Rick St. Germaine, a tribal historian and former Tribal Chairman, was a consultant in the planning and  MC'd the event. He thanked the many in attendance who came to the commemoration stating that this was a big event for the Tribe.


34. TGB Passes General Welfare Exclusion Act to Protect Citizens from Taxation on Tribal Benefits (Oct. 17)


At their meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 10, the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board (TGB) approved the General Welfare Exclusion Code, which recognizes that tribal members are exempt from being taxed when receiving essential benefit payments from the TGB.

LCO Attorney General James Schlender Jr said the TGB passed the Code to protect sovereignty of Tribe and its citizens.

“This is in response to the CARES Act and ARPA payments that were being taxed or impacted,” Schlender stated. “These agencies were reporting it as income, but they are exempt.”


33. Sheriff Questioned by Tribal Leaders on Why He Removed Race Statistic from Jail Report (Feb. 8)


In the jail report presented by the Sawyer County Sheriff’s Office at the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee (CJCC) meeting held on January 11th, one regular statistic had been removed and LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) member and Sawyer County Board Chairman, Tweed Shuman, asked Sheriff Doug Mrotek why.

The statistic missing was the rate of Native Americans incarcerated each month. Going forward, Mrotek said the race statistic would no longer be in the report. The percentages of Native’s in the Sawyer County Jail, according to statistics kept over a number of years, could range from as low as 60% to as high as 80%.


32. Taylor Chosen to Serve Another 2-Year Term as Chairman; Shuman Becomes Vice Chair (June 24)


Louis Taylor was re-elected Chairman of the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe in a brief Inauguration Ceremony at the tribal office on Friday, June 23, unanimously chosen by the newly sworn-in Tribal Governing Board (TGB).

The Inauguration Ceremony, which is usually held at the Sevenwinds Convention Center and was tentatively scheduled for July 3, was unexpectedly held Friday morning after a request was made by the two newly-elected TGB members, Bill Trepanier and Kelly Nayquonabe, due to scheduling conflicts.


31. Ribbon Cutting Held for Miskogiizhig Apartments (Nov. 2)


The new Miskogiizhig Apartments constructed on Round Lake School Road at the North End of the Reservation where the casino bike trail meets the road is now ready for occupancy and a ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Wednesday, Oct. 25.

In attendance were ARPA team members, who headed the project, Woodstone, Inc, and LCO Development, responsible for construction, LCO Tribal Governing Board members and other community representatives.

LCO Chairman Louis Taylor said this beautiful new building is just the beginning of what LCO is doing.


30. Grindstone Creek Re-Grand Opening Happening this Friday, March 10 (Mar. 8)


“After nearly three years of patience and anticipation, we are excited to announce the Re-Grand Opening date for Grindstone Creek Casino of Friday, March 10th, 2023, at noon!”

The Grindstone Creek Casino was closed when the Covid-19 Pandemic hit, and in the following year, the LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) approved designating several million dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to do a total upgrade of the facility, and that included some upgrades to the LCO Country Store as well. Both enterprises are located in the LCO Commercial Center in the heart of the LCO Reservation, at the corners of Hwy K and E.


29. Chairman Requests State Response After Destruction of Wild Rice by Non-Tribals (Sep. 26)


After an recent incident that occurred on Dilly Lake in Washburn County whereby a non-tribal person was destroying wild race in the company of several migrants, LCO Chairman Louis Taylor sent a letter to Governor Tony Evers and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Director Adam Payne. The incident was captured on camera by an LCO Tribal Member who was gathering wild rice on the lake.

The letter was in response to a citation being issued to the non-tribal person, but no charges were filed against the migrants. The non-tribal apparently told LCO Conservation Wardens that he would just ‘pay the fine.’


28. March 15th Marks 100 Years Since Winter Dam Gates Closed and the Flood Waters Began (Mar. 4)


The 1923 destruction of Pahquahwong settlement on the LCO Reservation was a political conspiracy engineered by American capitalists and land speculators in their quest for Indian resources. The BIA, a federal agency responsible for tribal resource protection, had for four decades (1874 – 1913) facilitated the colossal sale of Indian reservation lands to lumber companies at minimal prices. Their objective was to extinguish the reservation, then relocate the Indians west to White Earth. The 19th Century logging boom in northern Wisconsin fed millions of pine logs down the Couderay and Chippewa Rivers. In 1887 logging companies operated 150 dams along the upper Chippewa River to regulate log jams and spring flooding. There was even a small dam just above the village of Old Post that created Pokegama Lake.


27. Judge Issues Decision in Chairman vs. Attorney General Court Case (June 7)


A decision has been made by LCO Chief Judge Elaine Smith in the court hearing held on May 31 based on Tribal Chairman Louis Taylor's Petition Seeking Declaratory Judgment and Supplementary Injunctive Remedies and authoritative opinion of Art. V - Powers of the Governing Board, in the Amended Constitution and Bylaws of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin.

The Judge’s decision supports the petition of Chairman Taylor that no one individual tribal council member has authority to spend tribal funds, and that the body of the tribal governing board has that power, with a majority vote of 4 members.


26. TGB Receives Feasibility Study and Proposed Plan for Development of Capone's Hideout (Oct. 1)


The Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians sought to assess the financial redevelopment viability of the Al Capone Hideout property located within the reservation boundaries. There are 11 buildings and outbuildings located on the 407-acre plot of fee simple land which includes a 32-acre private lake and over 300 acres of forest. The Tribe purchased the property in 2009 and was awarded an Economic Development Administration grant to have a feasibility study on this area conducted to support tribal economic development. The tribe issued a Request for Proposals in the fall of 2022 for a feasibility study and recommendations for best uses of the property which will enhance the tribal and local economy.


25. TGB Extends FS Chief Executive Officer Contract Amid Rapid Revenue Increases (Apr. 19)


The LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) narrowly approved extending the contract for LCO Financial Services Chief Executive Officer, Scott Soli, by an additional three years after his contract expires next year, 2024 in February. The extension will keep Soli as CEO until 2027.

LCO Secretary-Treasurer Tweed Shuman brought the proposal for Soli's contract renewal extension to the TGB for a vote.


24. Highest TGB Vote Getter Kelly Nayqounabe Resigns; David Bisonette Sworn In as Newest Council Member (July 24)


In a shocking turn of events for the Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) community, newly-elected and highest vote-getter in the June election, LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) member Kelly Nayquonabe, announced that she was resigning from the position that 544 tribal members elected her too, citing personal reasons.

“I am very grateful for your show of support. There is no greater feeling than to know that so many people believe in you,” Nayquonabe stated. “However, after having experienced the stressful responsibilities of tribal government, and for my well-being, it is with deep sorrow that I’ve decided not to continue in the position to which I was elected.”


23. TGB Approves Hardship Forms as New Procedure for Donation Requests (Jan. 31)


The Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board (TGB) approved a new process for donation requests, such as hotel and gas vouchers and other tribal assistance. Going forward, tribal members who request any assistance will be required to check over the attached list of tribal programs first to see if they qualify under a specific program, and if not, they will need to fill out a “hardship form” application. At the bottom of this article you will find the procedure for application and the list of programs, and other required documentation.

LCO TGB Member Glenda Barber was behind the push for a new process after numerous times the TGB had discussed the need to do something regarding hotel vouchers and other donation requests.


22. TGB Reports Fair Selection Process Occurred for New Apartments (Nov. 28)


The new Miskogiizhig Apartments constructed on Round Lake School Road at the North End of the Reservation where the casino bike trail meets the road has its residents moved in, or currently moving in, as the selection process has been completed, and all 40 units have been designated.

The Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board (TGB) reported to the LCO Elders last week that the process was fair and that they had stayed out of the selection. The TGB previously decided the process would involve appointment of a selection committee and that the committee would choose who was qualified and then do a random drawing of those applicants.


21. LCO Tribal Member Sworn In as New Sawyer County Judge; A First in County's History (Aug. 12)


The investiture of new Sawyer County Circuit Judge, Monica Isham, took place on Friday, August 12, at the new courthouse addition for the purpose of adding a second judge.

Isham, who is the first female and Native American elected to judge in Sawyer County, will serve as Branch 2 judge. Terms for circuit judges in Wisconsin are six years.


20. Final Candidate List Released for 2023 Primary Election (Apr. 18)


Today, the LCO Election Committee published the official ballot order for the 2023 Primary Election to be held on May 13th. The Caucus was held on April 1st whereby 24 candidates were nominated, and after background checks and a 3-day acceptance period, the total number of candidates running this year to fill 4 open seats, is now set at 18.

All candidates in the Primary Election will be narrowed down to the top eight vote getters, who will then advance to the General Election, Saturday, June 17. The top eight will first have to pass a drug test and any who doesn’t pass the drug test will be removed from the ballot and the candidate from the Primary receiving the next highest votes will then be placed on the General Election ballot.


19. LCO TGB Set to Take Strong Actions in Response to Recent Uptick in Youth Gang Activity (Oct. 6)


In response to a letter from LCO Ojibwe School Superintendent Jessica “Hutch” Hutchison to parents about a rise in behavior and dress among middle school students that has in the past been associated with gang affiliation, the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board wishes to stress to the community that this behavior won’t be tolerated at the school, nor the community-at-large, and a strong response will be taken.

The Tribal Governing Board is asking parents and community members teach all of our youth about the dangers of gang activity, and to remind everyone of the tragedies that overcame Lac Courte Oreilles in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s when gang violence claimed the lives of two young tribal members and eventually, the imprisonment of dozens of our people.


18. LCO Police Report Child With a Gun Call Was a Swatting Incident (Apr. 20)


On the evening of April 19, 2023, Officer’s from the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Police Department as well as Deputies from the Sawyer County Sheriff's Office. Responded to the area of Bacon Strip in the Town of Hayward for a report of a juvenile with a gun. The caller claiming to be the individual with the gun told dispatchers he would kill any cops in the area and claimed to have hostages. Through the course of the investigation, it has been determined to be a “SWATTING” incident involving a person from another State. There is no danger to the public at this time and the original individual involved has been cleared of any wrongdoing.


17. Lac du Flambeau Agrees to Temporary Removal of Road Blockade (Mar. 14)


Beginning in the early 1970s, the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians began efforts to regain ownership of our lands and roads under the William Wildcat administration. Our efforts were recently revitalized after the Tribe conducted research of relevant documents from the Town of Lac du Flambeau, the United States government, and Tribal archives that showed the Bureau of Indian Affairs ("BIA") allocated funding for the construction of various roads on the Lac du Flambeau Reservation beginning in the early 1900s and continuing to 1970. TGB Responds to Community Concerns Over Saturation Patrols During Powwow (July 15)


The Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board (TGB) is aware of the recent increased patrol activity by law enforcement on our Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation.

The TGB strongly supports the efforts of law enforcement to keep our communities safe. However, it appears to be a saturation patrol by law enforcement focused on our community while we are hosting a significant cultural event.

The TGB is addressing the concerns of the community with our LCO Tribal Police Department.


15. Chairman Issues Temporary Hotel and Gas Spending Freeze (June 8)


Following the decision by LCO Chief Judge Elaine Smith to confirm LCO Chairman Louis Taylor’s assertion that only a majority vote of the Tribal Governing Board (TGB) can spend tribal funds, and that it was unconstitutional for any individual TGB member to spend those funds, the Chairman and LCO Secretary-Treasurer Tweed Shuman sent out notices on Wednesday, June 7, to enterprises that there would be an immediate freeze on discretionary spending.

In a notice to all enterprises and the Sevenwinds Casino, a memo was sent from the Chairman and Sec-Treasurer announcing that the Tribe is unable to maintain its donation spending for this fiscal year.


14. Butternut School Responds to Photo at Eagles Game that Caused Strong Reaction at LCO (Nov. 30)


An image from an LCO Eagles girls’ basketball game held at Butternut High School caused some strong emotions at Lac Courte Oreilles this past week as it depicts the red handprints that have become symbolic of the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women’s movement across Indian Country.

In a statement from the Butternut School Athletic Department, the poster image was from a Dec. 9, 2022, homecoming basketball game for the high school, even though a community member who shared the pic stated she believed it was from a middle school basketball game that took place on Monday.


13. Tribal Court Hears Case About Individual Council Members Dispersing Funds (June 4)


The LCO Tribal Court heard arguments on Wednesday, May 31, regarding the constitutionality of individual tribal governing board members dispersing tribal funds. Chief Judge Elaine Smith heard from both sides of the case, LCO Tribal Chairman Louis Taylor and LCO Attorney General James Schlender Jr.

Smith’s decision in the case hasn’t been published yet.

The case stems from a request the Chairman made to the Attorney General (AG) on February 28, in which he asks for the AG's interpretation of the constitutional authority granted to Tribal Governing Board Members regarding tribal funds.


12. Tribal Member to Play for Team Wisconsin U-19 Girls' Basketball Team at Indigenous Games (Apr. 17)


LCO’s very own Maekayla Cadotte will be competing in the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) held in Nova Scotia, Canada this summer for Team Wisconsin.  She attended two separate try outs and qualified for the U-19 Girls’ Basketball Team.  She is currently a senior at Hayward High School and was a four-year Varsity letter winner in basketball where she also received All Conference recognition. Maekayla will be attending University of Minnesota next fall on a pre-law track with an emphasis on American Indian Studies and plans to attend law school after completing her undergraduate degree.


11. LCO Tribe Releases Statement on Opposition to Draft ATV Ordinance and Reservation Road Closures (Mar. 13)


The Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Government would like to provide the Sawyer County community with information that outlines the Tribes current opposition to the draft ATV Ordinance and temporary closure of reservation roads for ATV/UTV use.

Over the last fifteen years, the LCO Tribe has encountered numerous road related issues with Local Townships including assertions of civil jurisdiction, road ownership and right of ways within the exterior boundaries of the reservation. In many instances, Local Town Board and County officials have disregarded or flouted Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) Tribal Sovereignty and Federal law by asserting their perceived civil jurisdiction on roads listed within their respective road inventories.


10. TGB Responds to Video Circulating of Student and Staff Interaction at LCO School (Nov. 21)


The Tribal Governing Board is aware that in recent weeks an unauthorized video of a student/staff interaction taking place at the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School has been circulated on social media. The Governing Board has met with school officials as well as community members to review the conduct and hear concerns. Upon their review of events leading up to and following the interaction, which was unlawfully recorded, and in light of the Tribe's efforts to curb the presence of unlawful and/or disorderly behavior, the TGB has found no evidence of inappropriate conduct on the part of school staff. Furthermore, in light of the prevalence of school violence nationwide and the local rise in gang activity, the board would like to acknowledge the work that is being done by school staff each and every day to maintain a safe and supportive learning environment for all who attend Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School.


9. Suspect in Custody After Stabbing at LCO Clubhouse (Jan. 27)


On Friday, January 20, 2023 at approximately 12:19 P.M., Officers from the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Police Department and the Sawyer County Sheriff’s Department, along with the Sawyer County Ambulance were dispatched to the LCO Clubhouse located at 8436N County Hwy E for the report of a stabbing.

Upon arrival Officers located Garrett Barthel had been stabbed in the chest and was bleeding. The individual who had stabbed Barthel was identified as Myron Crone Jr. and he had barricaded himself in the bathroom at the LCO Clubhouse.  Garrett Barthel was transported by ambulance and helicopter to receive medical care for a life-threatening injury.   The Sawyer County S.W.A.T. Team was activated and was able to take Crone Jr. into custody for aggravated battery and multiple felony warrants for his arrest.


8. Statement from TGB Regarding Inflation Assistance Payment (Oct. 19)


The Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board (TGB) is aware of the growing concern of Tribal Members regarding the proposed Inflation Assistance Payment that was authorized by the TGB on October 10, 2023.

The TGB in regular session motioned to approve a one-time payment for enrolled Tribal Members to offset the rising living costs associated with inflation and other matters impacting our communities. The motion was unanimous and provided for conditions to ensure compliance with Federal, State, and local laws. The source of funds for the payment will be Tribal funds.


7. LCO Woman Found Guilty of Reckless Homicide in Fentanyl Death (Jan. 27)


Hayward area resident Mary Ann Hammond has pleaded guilty to a charge of first-degree reckless homicide by delivering Fentanyl to a Northwoods Beach woman who later died in a hospital.

Hammond, 35, 15950 Third Street, Hayward, was charged in the death of 53-year-old Lisa D. Quagon, 7725N Dixon Avenue in the Town of Bass Lake, on June 12, 2020. The court charges state that Hammond caused the death of Quagon by delivering Percocet pills (Fentanyl and Hydrocodone), which Quagon used.


6. Norwood Haven Destroyed by Fire in Overnight Hours (Oct. 31)


The Norwood Haven residential facility, owned by the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe, located just off the Reservation boundary off County Hwy E on Grindstone Lake, burned to the ground in an overnight fire on Monday, Oct. 30.

The fire was reported just after 8:00 pm and wasn’t extinguished until around 11:30 pm. All residents were safely evacuated. The 5 cabins located at the former resort were unharmed, but the original bar/restaurant and motel units were completely destroyed.


5. TGB Announces Times and Location for Winter Assistance Check Pick Up (Dec. 5)


Greetings LCO Tribal Members. When the Tribal Governing Board discussed the annual Elder Christmas checks to LCO Tribal Member Elders, it was decided to increase the amount from $200.00 to $300.00. During TGB'S discussion, it came up 'why not do this for all Tribal Members who will be 18 on or before December 31, 2023'? By providing to all adults 18 years and older, family, friends, and relatives of the Elders 55 and older, will also share in this. So, it was agreed to provide a 'Winter Assistance' check for $300.00 to all adult members.


4. TGB Approves 2nd Assistance Distribution for All Tribal Members (Nov. 20)


The Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board unanimously approved a $300 Winter Assistance Disbursement from the Capitol Improvement and Enbridge accounts to be paid to every adult tribal member (18 years of age by December 31, 2023). The approval was made Monday, Nov. 20, at their weekly meeting.

The disbursement is expected to be distributed on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 8 and 9, for in-person pick up, but the place of distribution hasn’t been finalized.

All checks not picked up on those two dates will then be mailed out to all tribal members.


3. Notice Regarding Inflation Assistance Checks and The Pick-Up Dates (Oct. 25)


On Tuesday, Oct. 10, the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board elected to give every adult tribal member (18 years of age by December 31, 2023) an Inflation Assistance Disbursement in the amount of $500 as part of the surplus.

The following is the announcement of how and when checks may be picked up and the process for who can have their checks picked up on their behalf.

Below this announcement you may download the Authorization Form through the PDF or click on the image and save to your computer.


2. TGB Approves Inflation Assistance Disbursement for Every Adult Tribal Member (Oct. 13)


A few weeks back, LCO News announced the Tribe had a $4.2 million budget surplus, and on Tuesday, Oct. 10, the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board elected to give every adult tribal member (18 years of age by December 31, 2023) an Inflation Assistance Disbursement in the amount of $500 as part of the surplus.

LCO Vice Chairman Tweed Shuman, who made the motion for the disbursement, said the check must be picked up in person at the Tribal Office. All persons receiving a check will be required to pick it up.


1. Three Charged for Maintaining a Drug Trafficking House on LCO Reservation (Jan. 27)


Three area residents have been charged by Lac Courte Oreilles and Sawyer County authorities with feloniously maintaining a drug trafficking place at 12874W Haskins Road, town of Hayward, on Dec. 28, 2022.

They are Kathryn Marie Isham, 55; Justin Louis Gordon, 35; and Renae Nicole Gordon, 34, all of the same address.

On Dec. 28, an LCO police investigator observed a black Ford Explorer leave the Haskins Road residence and turn south on Highway NN. Officers located the vehicle on Water Tower Lane and arrested the male driver on a warrant. They searched the vehicle and found a chalky white powder that tested positive for Fentanyl; the driver stated that he purchased it from an individual at the Haskins Road residence.




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