A Report from LCO Vice Chairman Jason Schlender
Boozhoo Indinawemaaganidog, niin sa Manidoo Noodin indizhinikaaz, Bizhiw indoodem. I hope you enjoy my report to the tribal citizenship as Vice Chairman of the Tribal Governing Board. Since the last time we met there has been a lot of activity at Lac Courte Oreilles. Summer was here and just like that it was gone. The leaves are all turning colors and are beginning to fall heavily. Our people have been out hunting since the fireflies came out and now as we approach the time when the bucks rut many of our people will venture into our ceded territory to practice their off reservation harvesting rights. This is one my favorite times of the year.
I look forward to sharing relevant information regarding Lac Courte Oreilles with each of you. We have many ways in which news can be obtained. We have a weekly e-newsletter, an active tribal Facebook page, bi-monthly newspaper, and I maintain a personal Facebook page as well. I hope the information shared in this article is helpful in informing you about my activities and some of the exciting things happening at Lac Courte Oreilles.
GLIFWC/Voigt Inter-Tribal Taskforce May 3, 2018, Hinckley, MN; June 7, 2018, LCO, WI; July 26, 2018, Carlton, MN; Sept. 6, 2018, Bad River, WI; Oct. 4, 2018, Lac Vieux Desert, MI, November 1, 2018, Turtle Lake, WI
I attend these meetings as a delegate of the tribe. I also serve as the Chairman of the Voigt Inter-Tribal Taskforce. The main topics of discussion are 26th Annual Partners Event; Emerald Ash Borer issue; 2018 Spring Spearfishing declarations and harvest; Chronic Wasting Disease; Elk Hunt 2018; Healing Circle Run/Walk; Sandy Lake Memorial; and the 20th Anniversary of MOU with USFS.
LCO Community College Graduation, May 17, 2018, I offered congratulatory remarks on behalf of the Tribal Governing Board to the graduating students.
LCO/Hayward High School Graduation Celebration, May 23, 2018, I offered congratulatory remarks on behalf of the Tribal Governing Board. This is a collaboration between Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School and Hayward High School.
Spearing Meeting, May 30, 2018, this meeting was held to recap the spring spearfishing season with our tribal citizens. It was a great season that went by fast, but we were able to TAC out most lakes with the Chippewa Flowage having the most quota remaining. TAC means we harvested the amount that we declared for a particular lake.
Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School Graduation Commencement, June 1, 2018. I offered congratulatory remarks and presented diplomas to the graduating high school students.
GLIFWC PARTNERS EVENT, June 6, 2018, this is an annual event in which the tribes collaborate with the State of Wisconsin and other federal agencies to continue to build strong working relationships through fishing. This event took place on the Chippewa Flowage. In addition, three former Packers players join us on the water as we continue to carry out the initiatives laid out in the “Casting Light Upon the Water” plan.
Native American Tourism of Wisconsin Conference, June 11, 2018. I was asked to give a tour of the Chippewa Flowage to conference attendees. I was also presented an eagle feather by the NATOW staff for progressive tribal leadership which was a great honor.
Akwesasne Mohawk Raceway, July 5-7, 2018, Hogansburg, NY. I was directed by TGB to research the possibility of adding a raceway here at Lac Courte Oreilles. The Mohawk Nation run a successful raceway which includes different circuits and races around upper New York state and Eastern Ontario and it was interesting to speak to racers, and their tribal leadership about the raceway. It would cost the tribe a million dollars to build a raceway. Some other factors are pollution (air and noise).
Walleye Distribution for LCO Elders, July 12, 2018, Reserve, Wi. I was asked to offer some words to some of our tribal elders that received Walleye fillets that were donated by LCO Tribal spear fishermen at the different boat landings. It was great to see our culture in action as our elders were being provided for and had an opportunity to east some good fish. This event is coordinated by our GLIFWC wardens it was an honor to be there with our elders to receive their donations.
Healing Circle Run/Walk, July 14-20. This annual event where people come together to pray for healing for themselves, their families, their communities, their nation, Aki and our relatives. The Healing Circle Run/Walk continues to be a prayer for healing. During the 2001 Healing Journey Run, participants were told of a teaching on healing-
“for a nation to heal, it must begin with the individual. As a person heals, then that person can help heal his/her family. As a family begins to heal, they can help heal their community. As communities heal, they can help the nation heal. As the nations heal, they can help Aki (the earth), our plant and animal relatives to heal.”
The Run/Walk always starts in LCO and after a week’s long journey it ends in LCO at the beginning of the Honor the Earth pow-wow. Many tribes participate and are generous to the core group of walkers and runners as we are provided food and a place to stay during this time. This event strengthens the bonds between the tribes as many tribes face many of the same issues. It is one of many great events sponsored by the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission.
DNR Consultation, July 23, 2018, Green Bay, WI. I attended the consultation with other tribal leaders that focused on CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease). One of the issues as that we can’t get the state of Wisconsin to be more restrictive on deer farms that are documented to spread CWD.
Golf Course Management Consultation, July 26, August 4, 11 and 14. I met with golf pros and tribal leadership from the following tribal communities that operate golf courses: Black Bear Golf Course (FDL), Dakotah Ridge Golf Club (LSIC), The Meadows at Mystic Lake (SMSC), Pine Hills (Stockbridge-Munsee), Thornberry Creek at Oneida (Oneida). All of the tribes listed shared crucial information with Lac Courte Oreilles like job descriptions for golf course personnel both in the club house and working on the course. All of the tribes are excited that Lac Courte Oreilles could be potentially purchasing Big Fish Golf Course. I have been asked by many tribes to be included in the “circuit” of golf tournaments and fundraisers that benefit tribal veterans, scholarship funds, and many other tribal ventures. This is a great opportunity to expand the boundaries of the reservation, create more jobs, and provide another option for our tribal youth. Golf is a game that can be played for a lifetime. I also have commitments from some of our tribal employees that want to coach our youth in playing the game of golf.
Big Fish Golf Course much like many golf courses in the area doesn’t generate a huge profit. Interest in the game has dipped slightly on a national level which has affected some local courses in the Hayward area. Big Fish has a lot to offer and is a course that is in great shape and has a great location and it’s a Pete Dye designed course which is a beneficial marketing tool. The course also stands to be a strong amenity for the Sevenwinds Casino.
Healing Awareness Walk, August 15, 2018, LCO. I walked with others through the different communities in LCO to bring awareness to healing in midst of the opioid crisis that the community is in. It was a great feeling to be there and fun to laugh and tease with the group. It was a great vibe.
Sevenwinds Casino Re-Branding, Sept. 21, 2018. I was honored to represent the tribe as the casino celebrated their ribbon cutting and re-branding. I was offered asemaa to do the invocation and was honored to share that day with our tribal veterans, elders, youth, and Casino staff.
Share Your Voices, Oct. 2, 2018. I assisted the Wisconsin Historical Society with a listening session in which they wanted feedback and input as they start to develop plans for a new museum. It is crucial for the tribe to have input so our story can be told to others in the best way possible.
Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Consultation, Oct. 16, 2018, Lac du Flambeau, WI. I provided testimony on behalf of Lac Courte Oreilles in opposition of policies in place that promote and protect deer farming in Wisconsin. Chronic Wasting Disease is a huge issue in the state of Wisconsin and it is starting to come into the ceded territory of the Wisconsin tribes. There is no cure for this disease and none of the tribes or the state agencies have been able to curtail it. Deer farming generates millions of dollars to the state, but at the same time many facilities have tested positive for CWD. This is a huge issue and I was one of many tribal leaders to voice our opposition to deer farming in Wisconsin.
National Indian Education Association Conference, Oct. 17-19, 2018. Hartford, CT. I attended the NIEA Conference and the sessions I attended included School Board Professional Development: Helping Create Stewards of the Scared with Culture, Creativity and Critical Thought; Special Education; BIE Consultation; Cultural Responsiveness Training Model.
Lower Sioux Strategic Planning, October 20, 2018, I was asked to participate in strategic planning for the language immersion school located in Morton, MN. Waadookodaading Language Institute will continue to provide technical assistance to the Lower Sioux Community as they continue to develop their school and revitalize their language.
National Congress of American Indians, Oct. 21-25, 2018, Denver, CO. I attended NCAI to attend sessions on SAMHSA and the Opioid crisis in Indian Country.
Education Subcommittee which focused on School Board training and utilizing assessments to improve school productivity.
Native Language session which highlighted successful programs and helping tribes to obtain funding. I had the opportunity to share what LCO does well in our language revitalization efforts and also offered technical assistance to any tribe looking to revitalize their language.
Economic Development session which focused on “opportunity zones.” LCO is an opportunity zone and so I wanted to get brought up to speed on funding through New Market tax credits. It was also mentioned that convenience stores as an economic area for tribes to invest in. LCO will be doing that.
I had a chance to talk with many tribal leaders from across Indian Country. The one common issue is the Opioid crisis so we need to work together in order to overcome this issue.
Sobriety Feast, Oct. 25, 2018, LCO. I was asked to share my story of my sobriety. I have been sober for fifteen years and I was honored to be asked to share with the group. Ultimately, It’s about caring for one another and doing what you can to heal from the historical trauma that our people deal with on an everyday basis. My thoughts and prayers are with all of our families as we learn to deal with addiction.
Leech Lake Opioid Response Summit, November 13-14, 2018, I was asked by the Chairman of the Fond Du Lac Ojibwe to participate in the Opioid Summit. I wanted to be able to bring some youth and some other groups to represent Lac Courte Oreilles. It is important to realize that many of our issues are the same in different Ojibwe communities and so we all need to work together and share resources so we can combat this epidemic that plagues our tribal communities.
Upcoming initiatives: I am working to get a travel plaza where C2 is located at right now. I would like to consolidate that space and turn the area into a family oriented section that will have a gas station, laundromat, Koobie’s coffee, A&W restaurant, and a grocery store. We have some more meetings with WHEDA and we look forward to carrying out that project.
The Tribal Governing Board approved building a new playground on the elementary side of the LCO Ojibwe School. I also secured funding to put a new floor in the Theresa Williams Gymnasium which will have the Migiziwag logo in the center and will also have the team name signage in our ojibwe language. I look forward to seeing our community play on the new and improved floor and our children playing in a new playground. Construction will take place this spring.
I was glad that the Tribal Governing Board recently passed a policy in which elder benefits are available to all Elders regardless if they are employed or not. I brought that to the board a few months ago because many of our elders need assistance and many have to work because they are supporting their families beyond what may be expected of them. I’m relieved that some assistance can be provided to them.
The LCO Ojibwe School was awarded a 3.5 million dollar grant through the Department of Education to develop a Tribal Environmental Charter School. The school will be chartered through the LCO Ojibwe Community College. This is an exciting endeavor for Lac Courte Oreilles.
Every Thursday during hunting season I go out hunting with staff and students from the LCO Ojibwe School. This is a long time tradition and I’m glad to do my part to mentor the students that participate in the hunt and to also to continue to learn from the other hunters in the group. This is a great time to transfer cultural knowledge to our young people and also provide food for families and the community.
Meeting minutes are available online at our tribal website and linked through our tribal newsletter so the citizenship can keep updated on any recent happenings with the Tribal Governing Board.
In closing, I am honored to serve as Vice Chairman of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Ojibwe. I have had the opportunity to chair some Tribal Governing Board meetings because the Chairman took some time off to be with his family at different times in regards to health and wellness. Our lives are precious and caring for our children is the utmost priority for us in this community. I never hesitate to represent the tribe whenever the chairman is not available to do so on any level of governance. It is crucial to retain a seat at the table in regards to relationships with tribes, state, and federal agencies. It is a great honor to represent my fellow Ojibwe-Anishinaabe people here at Odaawaa Zaaga’iganiing.
I would like to end this report as I have done with others by extending a heartfelt miigwech to all our directors and staff that continue to provide services to our tribal citizenship and community members. My condolences to our community members that have lost somebody throughout the year.
Miigwech for the opportunity to serve
Jason Schlender, Vice Chairman