Siga Funmaker Community Center Celebrates 5 Years

By Ardith Van Riper

     The Wittenberg community gathered at the Siga Funmaker Community Center on Dec. 29, 2022, to celebrate the building’s five year existence.  The building was christened in the name of Georgianna “Siga” Violet Whitewing-Funmaker, Wakejahuiga (Coming from Above) in 2017 but the building name was shortened over the years to Siga Funmaker Community Center. 

     Many people in the Wittenberg area agree Georgianna “Siga” Funmaker was a pillar in the community because she helped develop and form many of the institutions and programs.  Siga was one the very first Community Health Representatives for the Ho-Chunk Nation and continued to serve in that profession for over 43 years.  She not only took care of her family, but the entire community as well.  She also served as an officer of the Native American Church and was one of the primary fundraisers of the Church.

     The five-year celebration began with vendors, demonstrations, and a holiday art station from 3:30 pm until 5:30 pm.  Attendees were asked to sign-in, received raffle tickets for door prizes, and were invited to explore the building.

     The $2.6 million facility was financed with NPD funds and is located near other Ho-Chunk buildings, such as the Tribal Aging Unit, Ho-Chunk Gaming – Wittenberg, and Whitetail Crossing Convenience Store.  The center is home to Youth Services, Wipamanker’da Head Start, Department of Health, and Department of Administration. 

     The building has a large gymnasium, two large community rooms on either side of a large kitchen, a conference room, an exercise fitness room, and an entryway with a front desk.  A memorial hangs on the wall behind the front desk.  The plaque reads, “Siga Funmaker.  For a Special Person.  Some people have a wonderful way of putting others at ease…They say and do the little things that will comfort & will please.  They have a special kind of warmth, they’re quick to understand, and whenever there is trouble, they lend a helping hand.  This world of ours is a better place and happier by far…because there are some people as wonderful as you are.  Presented this 22nd day of May, 2015 for 43 years of dedicated Service as a C.H.R.”

     Lanette Walker served as master of ceremonies for the evening.  She explained that the night’s festivities resulted from community committee planning and some last minute changes.  The celebration was rescheduled from the week before due to inclement weather.

     “Those of you who knew my mother, knew that she was about all of us, not just some of us.  She would want everybody to be included,” Lanette said.

     Walker asked a group of children to offer the prayer over the meal.  A group of five or six youth recited a prayer and then the meal was served.  Lanette Walker requested participants to eat in different areas of the building and get in line in shifts, so to not all congregate in a small space for long periods of time.

     After the meal, guests were invited into the gym to recognize individuals of the Siga Funmaker Community Center celebration, listen to a guest speaker, and begin the social dancing.  Walker introduced Kim Crowley as a basket-maker demonstrator, General Manager Stacey Schinko, Youth Services Center Director Kathleen LaMere, and Editor Ardith Van Riper as the guest speaker.

     A community committee planner contacted the Hocak Worak for any background information on the Siga Funmaker Community Center.  Editor Ardith Van Riper shared what was found. 

     According to Real Estate Director Matthew Carriaga, the Ho-Chunk Nation purchased the property on April 13, 2011 and it went into trust on January 26, 2016.  Groundbreaking took place in the fall of 2015 and a ribbon-cutting ceremony took place on February 10, 2017.   Van Riper then read the ribbon-cutting ceremony article that appeared in the Hocak Worak Vol. XXXI, Issue 4 published on February 24, 2017.

     Per that article, members of the community participated in the ceremonial cutting of the ribbon.  The former Ho-Chunk Nation President Wilfrid Cleveland and former Vice President Darren Brinegar spoke.  They provided a welcome and acknowledged the following for their contributions; former President Jon Greendeer, former President Wilfrid Cleveland, the late Dallas Whitewing, former Vice President Healther Cloud, and the Shawano County Board.

     The five-year celebration continued with social dancing.  Lanette Walker introduced the drum led by Larry Walker, Jr. and announced that those who danced would receive an additional raffle ticket for door prizes.  Lanette and Jamie Decorah then organized a red-light, green-light game for children.  Participants of the game received additional door prize tickets.  Door prize tickets were drawn between social dancing.

     The evening concluded with gratitude from Lanette Walker and the family of Siga Funmaker.