Doors open at Community Center with ribbon cutting ceremony

By Ken Luchterhand

A new chapter has begun for opportunities of the Ho-Chunk people.
The new District 1 Community Center was unveiled at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, Jan. 23.
The center, located in the new Wazee development near the Mission, is the new home to Youth Services, the Language Division, a sewing class, childcare, as well as community events and exercise facilities.
“This is the community’s center,” said HCN Public Relations Officer Colin Price. “So, if you want to check out this room, you can do that. If you want work out, better your health lifestyle, there’s an awesome facility over there. I do know that basketball and volleyball tournaments have already been booked, so that’s pretty cool.
Price opened the ceremony in a community room inside the facility. There were more than 100 people in attendance.
“It is a great pleasure to be joining you here tonight for this joyful occasion which has been a long time in coming,” said HCN Vice President Doug Greengrass. “Great job to everyone who had a hand in making it a reality.  We cannot have a celebration of this facility without recognizing the people who put the hard work to get this project off the ground. Thank you to former representatives Susan Waukon, Greg Blackdeer, Lori Pettibone, and community building manager Sadie Garvin.”
Greengrass said that community members have been asking for this facility since 2001, and now it has been completed. In 2013, funding was set aside for our new District 1 Community Center, with the land coming into trust in 2015 and groundbreaking  in 2016.
“Our new $15 million community building will be used for area meetings, community use, childcare, language, physical fitness, community education and Youth Services,” Greengrass said. “I’d like to mention that Youth Services now has their own facility where they can function without interruptions by other tribal events.
“The Ho-Chunk Nation strives to provide the finest facilities. The new District 1 has the capacity to hold 1,200 people and was designed with the idea of holding our General Council meetings,” Greengrass said.
He thanked other District 1 representatives Henu Smith and Karena Thundercloud for attending the ribbon-cutting celebration.
David Keating, project manager at Miron Construction, thanked everyone involved with the construction project. He presented to Doug Greengrass a basketball that was signed by all the workers on the project.
Gordon Thunder provided the prayer.
Chief Clayton Winneshiek offered words of reflection about the community’s achievement in acquiring the new facility.
“I was thinking about the progress the people have made through the years, the building of the bingo halls and casinos and the progress we made over the years, Winneshiek said. “A few weeks ago was my first time over here and I got to tour the building. I was surprised and amazed. It felt good that, as Ho-Chunk people, we could do this thing, not only for our youth, but for everybody.
“It was amazing to walk through the building, the size of the building the two gyms. Going upstairs, all of the athletic equipment that’s up there,” Winneshiek said.
“We talk about our health, taking care of ourselves, diabetes, all of these things that go along with trying to be healthy, and here we have the perfect place to do that. We try to prevent from becoming sick: this is the place that could help you,” he said.
“I was very amazed at the size of this building, it didn’t look that big from when I would drive by to check and see. I might see a wall one day and then another wall. Toward the end it didn’t look all that big, but when I got a tour of it, it was amazing. The new facility will provide for our physical, mental, spiritual needs,” he said.  
“Even this room itself. You look outside here – there’s a fireplace out here. There’s a lot this building can do for each and every one of us. It might take us through happy times, it might take us through sad times, but this is the progress we’ve been making through the years,” Winneshiek said.
Winneshiek thanked the President Cleveland and the legislators for the building.
“These are the types of things that we can do to better ourselves as Ho-Chunk, that we can be healthy and live a long life. I don’t know how many of you took a tour of this building but exercise equipment, a walkway, there’s so much that this building can do for us as Ho-Chunks,” he said.
He thanked his sister Sadie for hosting the event and thanked Gordon Thunder for the prayer.