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Chippewa Federation meets at LCO

By Joe Morey News Editor


Six Chippewa Tribes of Wisconsin who make up the Chippewa Federation, met at the Sevenwinds Casino Conference Center on Thursday, Jan. 19, to discuss several issues concerning all the bands.


To kick off the meeting, the LCO Badgers performed a welcome song and an invocation was done by Dennis White.


Former LCO Tribal Council member Rusty Barber was introduced at the beginning of the meeting to share some information on Get Out the Vote and what’s going on at Lac Courte Oreilles.


“We need this to be the most active Get Out the Vote ever here at LCO,” Barber stated. “These elections start off with the 7th Congressional District seat vacated by Sean Duffy. We’re going to do a strong push for Tricia Zunker, a Ho Chunk member who is running for the seat.”


Barber went on to say, “Giving rides to polling sites is something we can do we need to identify people who can help us do that. We have many young 18 to 25 year olds available to help.”


Barber said LCO is planning to draft a resolution to support the Get out the Vote campaign.


“When you go to vote, don’t go alone. Grab someone and bring them with you,” Barber said.


Mike DeCorah, St. Croix Governmental Affairs Director, said Tricia Zunker was at the last Chippewa Federation meeting and she was very impressive.


“We have to let people know we aren’t going to go away quietly. We are going to fight to protect our lands,” Barber said.


LCO Chairman Louis Taylor said Rusty Barber would be the point person for LCO’s Get out the Vote campaign.


“We all need to stick together after today,” Taylor said to the other tribal leaders.


LCO Tribal Governing Board member Tweed Shuman told the leaders that he also serves as Sawyer County Board Chairman and that he and Chairman Taylor work very well together on tribal and county issues.


“We support each other and work together to collaborate and share resources. Together, our voice is strong and loud in our county,” Shuman said.


Shuman went on to say LCO Tribal Government is looking toward having their members be seen in tribal court for misdemeanors and lesser criminal offenses.


“Currently, our tribal members are processed through Sawyer County Court where the district attorney, judge, sheriff and jail may not have our people’s best interests in mind.”


Shuman said there are many alternatives to incarceration, such as home monitoring with ankle bracelets, counseling, treatment/rehab programs and community service.


“It has been proven that incarceration only increases recidivism,” Shuman added. “There is so much we can do to rehabilitate and support our people rather than put them in jail.”


Brooks Big John, Council Member from Lac du Flambeau, said his tribe went into a law enforcement agreement with a different county, Iron County, because the approach used by Vilas County wasn’t working for the tribe.


“Some are reluctant to let that jurisdiction go,” Big John said.


Another issue of common interest to the tribes is local roads and the trust responsibility of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to provide adequate funding. At LCO, the reservation is spread across six townships and Shuman noted many of those roads are listed as Indian Routes (IR).


Big John said LDF took back six township roads. “In the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s we didn’t have the equipment or the manpower to maintain the roads, but we do now.”


The Chippewa Federation has several standing committees on common issues such as Indian Child Welfare, wild rice, and holistic approaches. They held short discussions on each of these topics as well.


Marvin DeFoe of Red Cliff said it’s important the tribes keep communicating with each other between their bi-monthly meetings.


The tribal leaders also held some discussion on hemp production within the tribes. Mole Lake Chairman McGeshik stated that their hemp processing plant for CBD oils will be completed and available to Chippewa Federation tribes this year.


Shuman thanked McGeshik for the offer and said LCO plans to utilize their processing facility for their LCO hemp plan which includes processing and marketing CBD oils and products.


The group discussed possible options for the tribes to work collaboratively on hemp production. Hemp would be on their agenda for the next meeting in March at Lac du Flambeau.


Pictured above from the Left is LCO Chairman Louis Taylor, TGB member Tweed Shuman, TGB member Gary "Little Guy" Clause, Red Cliff Council Members Bryan Bainbridge, Marvin DeFoe, Laura Gordon and Nathan Gordon, Mole Lake Council Member Carmen McGeshik and Mole Lake Chairman Garland McGeshik. Not pictured around the table are Bad River Council Members Pete Powless, Barbara Smart, Jay McFee and Michael Berlin, St. Croix representatives Michael DeCorah and Pete LaBlanc, Lac du Flambeau Council Members John Johnson Sr, Eric Chapman and Brooks Big John.

Pictured above from bottom right Pete Powless, Barbara Smart, Jay McFee, Micheal DeCorah, Pete LeBlanc, John Johnson Sr, Eric Chapman Jr and Brooks Big John.