The Annual Meeting of General Council Reaches Quorum for the First Time in Four Years

By Ardith Van Riper

     The Annual Meeting of the General Council met on Saturday, Sept. 16, at the Kalahari Convention Center in Lake Delton, WI.  The General Council retains the power to set policy for the Ho-Chunk Nation.  The vote quorum of over 1,256 was met a little before 1:00 pm and business was conducted for the first time four years.  Quorum is twenty percent of the eligible voters of the Nation.  Registration recorded 1,457 members.

     The 2022 Annual Meeting was set for July 30 in Madison at Warner Park.  Registered participants reached 1,141 but did not meet the quorum number of 1,236.

     There was an Annual Meeting and a Special Meeting in 2021.  A volunteer group organized a Special Meeting of General Council on Sept. 18 at the Andrew Blackhawk Memorial Powwow Grounds near Black River Falls.  The gathering was twelve short of the quorum number.  The Office of General Council organized the Annual Meeting on Dec. 11 in Milwaukee.  Again, quorum was not reached.

     The Office of General Council attempted a virtual meeting of the General Council in 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.  The virtual meeting was set for Dec. 5 to be coordinated and broadcasted from Ho-Chunk Gaming – Wisconsin Dells.  The emcee for the event was Matt Mann and he had announced that there were 1,239 individuals registered at one point during the virtual meeting.  The number needed for a quorum was 1,233 or more.  However, only 727 individuals participated in the final quorum vote.

     The 2019 Annual Meeting of General Council was the last time quorum was met.  The Ho-Chunk Nation met on Sept. 14 at the Kalahari Resort with 2,260 voting members present.  The General Council had 13 proposed resolutions and passed six.

     Registration for the 2023 Annual Meeting of General Council opened at 8:00 am.  Informational booths, craft vendors, and the Health Department were set up in the hallways surrounding the main meeting conference room.  The Enrollment Division was also on hand to issue tribal IDs.

     Buses originating from La Crosse, St. Paul, Green Bay, Chicago, Wittenberg, and Milwaukee made stops in Tomah, Black River Falls, Appleton, Madison, and Nekoosa to deliver and return individuals.

     The Sanford WhiteEagle Legion Post 556 brought in the colors.  Jon Warner emceed until Wilfrid Cleveland was voted in as Presiding Chair Person.  Tim McCumber, WCMC Village Administrator, Clerk, and Treasure Village of Lake Delton provided a welcome address.  Trial Court Chief Judge Jo Deen Lowe provided a report from the Judicial Branch.  The Language Division coordinated some games modeled off of Jeopardy and Family Feud.  President Jon Greendeer offered some words in regards to the Executive Branch.

     Mr. Cleveland appointed Pamela Wilber as Recording Secretary with Adrienne Thunder assisting and Forrest Funmaker as Sargent at Arms.  Wilfrid Cleveland asked Truman Williams, Sr. to offer a word of prayer before beginning the meeting.

     There were 19 proposed resolutions for the 2023 Annual Meeting of General Council.  Here is a summary of those resolutions:

1. To Remove Vice President, District One Legislative Representative Karena Thundercloud, for Malfeasance. Yes – 471, No – 830, Abstain – 144, Total – 1,445. Motion Defeated.

2. To Establish a Department of Athletics under the Executive Branch. Yes – 584, No – 738, Abstain – 135, Total – 1,457. Motion Defeated.

3. To Amend the General Council Meeting Procedures. Yes – 450, No – 828, Abstain – 141, Total – 1,419.  Motion Defeated.

4. To Amend the General Council Bylaws. Yes – 444, No – 753, Abstain – 158, Total – 1,355.  Motion Defeated.

5. To Reinstate the General Council Agency and Reversal of the Office of General Council Establishment Act.  Yes – 404, No – 694, Abstain – 268, Total – 1,366.  Motion Defeated.

6. Setting Forth the Rights of Nature Policy and Implementation Plan. Yes – 1,010, No – 236, Abstain – 148, Total – 1,394.  Motion Carried.

7. To Modify the Blood Degree of Each and Every Person of Ho-Chunk Nation Indian Blood Who was Duly Enrolled in the Ho-Chunk Nation on December 1, 1999, Will Now be Considered Full-Blood or 4/4 Blood Degree.  Yes – 783, No – 572, Abstain – 79, Total – 1,434.  Motion Carried.

8. To Reverse SU21-04 and Remand the Case Back to the Ho-Chunk Nation Trail Court with the Explicit Instruction that all Property Purchased with Per Capita Shall not be Divisible Property and Further that it is Contrary to that Interest to Consider the Value of that Property when Dividing Property and Therefore Cannot be Given Consideration in Determining the Division of Assets or Equity and that doing so does not Secure our Rights, Advance the General Welfare, Safeguard our Interests, Sustain our Culture, Promote our Traditions and Perpetuate our Existence, as Defined within the Ho-Chunk Nation Constitution.  Yes – 716, No – 243, Abstain – 258, Total – 1,217.  Motion Carried.

9. Motion to Adjourn.  Yes – 678, No – 717, Abstain – 50, Total – 1,445.  Motion Defeated.

10. To Reclaim our Traditional Territory.  Yes – 1,060, No – 122, Abstain – 158, Total – 1,340.  Motion Carried.

11. To Request Secretarial Election to Permit Enrollment by Minors and Others that Meet Blood Quantum and DNA Requirements but were Previously Enrolled in Other Indian Tribes and have Relinquished.  Yes – 630, No – 584, Abstain – 163, Total – 1,377.  Motion Carried.

12. To Restrict Executive Session.  Yes – 415, No – 787, Abstain – 162, Total – 1,364.  Motion Defeated.

13. To Establish the Ethics Review Committee.  Motion not discussed.

14. To Request a Secretarial Election Amend the Ho-Chunk Nation Constitution to Strike the Language One-Fourth (1/4) and Now Reflect the Following: Add Descendants of Persons Listed in Section 1 (A), Provided, that such Persons are at Least One-Eighth (1/8) Ho-Chunk Blood. Motion not discussed.

15. To Establish the Constitution and Law Amendment Committee.  Motion not discussed.

16. Reviewing and Reversing Certain Legislative Actions; and Adopting Policy Regarding Resolutions Adopted by the Legislature; and Adopting Policy Regarding Executive Sessions of Public Meetings.  Yes – 437, No – 522, Abstain – 339, Total – 1,298.  Motion Defeated.

17. To Allow Electronic Mail Addresses for All Adult (18 years of age) Ho-Chunk Nation enrolled members.  Yes – 361, No – 952, Abstain – 75, Total – 1,388.  Motion Defeated.

18. To Establish Policy for Felony Registration.  Motion not discussed.

19. To Allow Virtual Voting.  Motion not discussed.

20. To Form a Constitutional Convention to Update 1994 Constitution.  Motion not discussed.

21. Motion to Adjourn.  Yes – 1,085, No – 87, Abstain – 35, Total – 1,207.  Motion Carried.

     Registered participants received a $150 payout.