Year in Review



Surprise luncheon for Judge JoAnn Jones’ 80th birthday

     Friday, January 3, 2020, the Tribal Courts staff organized a surprise luncheon in celebration of Judge JoAnn Jones’ 80th birthday.  The multi-purpose room at the District 1 Community Center was bursting with people, favorite foods of the Judge, and vibrant decorations.

     The staff was able to surprise Judge Jones under the guise that the clerks were having a staff meeting at D1CC.  All the while, they were preparing dishes and making the room festive.

Tribal Member creates film about area Somali Immigrants and family separation stories 

     Gary Garvin, a UW-Eau Claire junior marketing major from Black River Falls, was a cinematographer on a film, sharing stories of Somali refugees who have settled down in Baron County and how U.S immigration policies have directly impacted their families.

     Joel Friederich, associate professor of English at UW-Eau Claire, initially wrote the immigrants stories, which were published last May in the UWEC-Baron County’s literary journal, Red Cedar.

Calverley named as Executive Compliance Officer

     Tracy Calverley, formerly the Contract Division Administrator for the Ho-Chunk Nation Department of Justice, recently was named as Executive Compliance Officer by Ho-Chunk President Marlon WhiteEagle. Her new role was effective on Monday, January 6, 2020.

Ho-Chunk Nation reference on gameshow Jeopardy!

     January 15, the clue was, “Deb Haaland of the Laguna Pueblo & Sharice Davids of the Ho-Chunk Nation are the first women of this group in Congress.” 

     The clue was revealed under the category title ‘U.S. Representatives’ and presented in the Double Jeopardy! Round.  Contestant Laura Thomason, an English professor from Lizella, Georgia, responded, “What is Indigenous women?”

Eagle Summit closes its doors for the last time

      On January 6, Eagle Summit at Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells closed its doors for the last time.   Eagle Summit is an 18+ casino which offers a full range of class ll games and much more.

     Initially, planners wanted to use the space as a poker room. Executive Management decided poker was not very profitable, so the decision to put Eagle Summit in that space was ideal at that time.

Legislature Begins 2020 Budget Development

     Each year, the Legislature must enact an appropriations bill for the Ho-Chunk Nation in accordance with the Constitution. The process is outlined in the Appropriation and Budget Process Act (2HCC§4).

     The budget development process begins with an analysis of the previous year of income generation, all expenses, and establishing funding priorities for the upcoming fiscal year. The Nation’s enterprises submit a proposed budget to the Legislature’s Finance Committee by January 15 each year.


Kiana Beaudin receives Forward Under Forty Award

     Madison, Wisc. – Ho-Chunk Nation’s Kiana Beaudin received UW-Madison Alumni Association’s Forward under 40 Award for 2020 at a Madison Founders’ Day event on February 5.  The evening also included a blanketing ceremony and panel discussion. 

Clarence Boyce Monegar’s artwork put on display at the opening of the Ho-Chunk museum and Culture Center

     On Friday, January 24, the first art show at the new Ho-Chunk Art Museum and Culture Center took place in Tomah, Wisconsin.  The showcased art was created by Clarence Boyce Monegar.  Many of Clarence’s watercolor paintings represented the Ho-Chunk landscape of central Wisconsin. They focused on the forests and fields with a perception that is not only accurate but tempered with knowledge and respect inherited from generations of devotion.

Senior Basketball Player Reaches 1,000 points

     On Monday, January 13, senior point guard Elliot Bird reached 1,000 points for his career playing basketball for the Black River Falls Tigers.  Elliot has received multiple scholarship offers for both football and basketball and plans to attend UW-La Crosse for football.

Criminal Complaint filed against former General Council Deputy Advocate in the Ho-Chunk Nation Trial Court

     Former General Council Deputy Advocate Wendy L. Running Horse, 39, has been charged with one Criminal Complaint in the Ho-Chunk Nation Trial Court.  She is accused of knowingly and without authorization access the Ho-Chunk Nation Payroll System and modifying payroll data by entering and approving personal work hours using the login credentials of a deceased Tribal Employee.

Students showcase Ho-Chunk picture book at Sandburg Elementary

     On Thursday, January 23, fourth and fifth grade students at Sandburg Elementary School located in Madison, had an author’s book release party as part of their 2nd quarter showcase.

     Students took what they learned and created an original Ho-Chunk picture book, complete with original pictures and writings inspired by their learning. Students took digital publishing software to publish real books.

Stolen Sisters Exhibition spotlight MMIW epidemic

     An opening reception for the Stolen Sisters exhibit was held in the Greenhill Center of the Arts atrium at the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater on Jan. 30.  The exhibition features Indigenous artists and allies addressing a range of experiences and emotions surrounding violence against, loss of indigenous women, and also celebrates survival.

Largest Annual Teen Summit gathers youth, parents, educators, activists, and mentors from all over Wisconsin

     Sunday, February 23 through Tuesday, February 25, the largest annual Teen Summit to End Domestic Abuse was held at Chula Vista in Wisconsin Dells.  The Ho-Chunk Nation Domestic Abuse Division sponsored 38 Ho-Chunk Nation youth and staff to attend.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Movement

     While violence against women plagues many communities across the country and around the world, the Native American Indigenous groups in North America are particularly affected by this devastating problem. Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) present some of the highest statistics for violence and death. The situation has existed for generations and continues to harm individuals and families to this day.

UAS Program Administrator from Realty Division receives Emerging Leader Award from the Wisconsin Land Information Association

     Niklas Anderson from the Ho-Chunk Nation’s Realty Division received the very first Emerging Leader Award from the Wisconsin Land Information Association (WLIA) at their 33rd annual conference in Middleton, Wisc.  The Emerging Leader Award is given to an individual in the first seven years of their Land Information/GIS career who demonstrates exemplary individual technical achievement and/or leadership within the Wisconsin land information community.

Kickapoo Reserve Management Board welcomes new members

     The Kickapoo Reserve Management Board (KRMB) recently introduced two new Board members. Hocak (Ho-Chunk) Tina Brown of Black River Falls, Wisconsin, has been appointed to represent the Ho-Chunk Nation’s Cultural interests and Julie Hoel of Ontario, Wisconsin, has been appointed as the Education Representative by Governor Tony Evers. These appointments filled the only remaining seats left on the board which has not seen a complete board since 2012.


Sauk County Historical Society creates new Sacred Sites Committee

     The Sacred Sites Committee is a new committee of the board of the Sauk County Historical Society (SCHS), created as an outgrowth of strategic planning done in the summer of 2019.

     The current SCHS board members on the new committee include Seth Taft, Kristin White Eagle, and Executive Director Paul Wolter.

Ho-Chunk Nation welcomes new GIS Coordinator

     Scott Nesbit is the new GIS Coordinator for the Ho-Chunk Nation in the Realty Division supporting the geospatial needs of the Ho-Chunk Nation employees and tribal members. 

Advantages of the Tribal Member Benefits Program

     The FSA has been working with American Indian Tribes for the past 15 years, creating and administering tribal member benefit programs as well as implementing investment management strategies to maintain and fund these programs effectively.

Monitoring the Novel Coronavirus

     Over the past several weeks, the Health Department has closely monitored the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. This includes several weekly calls with our Local, State, and Federal partners. 

     The Health Department does have a Public Health Emergency Plan for addressing communicable disease incidents and we have practiced our Point of Dispensing plans with our internal and external partners, and we continue to work with them to address identified issues. 

COVID-19 causes Ho-Chunk Nation policy and procedure adaptations

     The COVID-19 pandemic currently changes our lifestyles, and day to day activities adjust around updates on the disease.  The Ho-Chunk Nation works diligently to protect our communities, our employees, and our tribal members.  President Marlon White Eagle declared a state of emergency for the Ho-Chunk Nation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 13.

     The declaration included limitations on employment-related travel outside Wisconsin and between work sites.  It also presented a request for departments to explore implementing communication technology and other solutions that will limit social interaction.  All meetings of public boards and committees administered by the President are suspended except for critical meetings.

Indigenous Movies to watch during the isolation period

     All over the globe, many people are being affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.  Schools, museums, movie theaters, restaurants, bars, hair salons, and casinos: all closed.  You are home and you need a distraction. Let us help.

UW Parkside Hosts New Exhibit by Sky Hopinka

     From February 4 through March 20, the Mathis Gallery in the Rita Tallent Picken Regional Center for Arts & Humanities at Parkside displayed a series of videos showing Sky Hopinka’s works.

     Sky Hopinka is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin and a descendant of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians. The announcement of identity is significant to his work, revealing the layered strata of information, presence, confusion, and history.

Social Distancing and What it means!  Yes, that means you too!

     In the last week you may have heard a lot about social distancing to help slow the spread of coronavirus.  This is an effort that ALL of us must undertake to slow the spread of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

     WHY is this so important?  Social distancing means limiting the close contact with other people.  This is especially important to protect our most vulnerable community members including elders, those with health problems, or anyone with a compromised immune system.  It is important that even younger healthy adults practice social distancing because they are able to spread the disease to other people. 

     WHAT should I do?  Limit trips out of the house to only getting groceries, seeking medical services, and caring for elders. When you decide it is absolutely necessary to leave the house remember to maintain a safe distance away from others, that means 6 feet.   Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer after you have touched any handrails, door knobs, pens, or signature pads in public.  Try to complete errands at a time that it will be less crowded.

     WHO should be practicing social distancing?  EVERYONE.

Ho-Chunk Gaming facilities temporarily close

     Based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, Wisconsin Department of Health, and the Ho-Chunk Nation Health Department, multiple Ho-Chunk Gaming (HCG) facilities temporarily close for the good of team members, guests, and the community.

     HCG – Madison closed March 17.  HCG – Wisconsin Dells, HCG - Tomah, and HCG – Nekoosa closed March 18.  HCG – Black River Falls closed March 19.  HCG – Wittenberg closed March 20.


BRF Youth Services changes the dynamics of working with students to working with elders and families

     Ho-Chunk Youth Services are designed to educate youth and provide recreational activities that promote healthy, mature lifestyles.  The Youth and Learning Center located at District 1 Community Center closed March 13 to protect youth, families, and staff during the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Staff compassionate about their jobs and the community continue to find alternate ways to help.

Two Ho-Chunk Head Start buildings offer pickup locations for Black River Falls School District meals

     Ho-Chunkgra and Puzaki Pei Cinak Head Start buildings near Black River Falls are pick up locations for the free breakfast and lunch meals that the Black River Falls School District (BRFSD) offers during the school closure.  Bus drivers, teachers’ aides, secretaries, and the Nutrition team from the BRFSD packed 10,500 meals for the March 30 deliveries.

Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature suspends May 2020 rent and mortgage payments for Housing and HHCDA

     Numerous individuals and families face financial hardships as a result of layoffs and the economic downturn as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Legislatures plans to ease the burden during this time by suspending all Department of Housing and Ho-Chunk Housing and Community Development Agency (HHCDA) rent and mortgage payments for May 2020.

Limited services and program updates from the Department of Education

     The Ho-Chunk Nation Department of Education continues limited services during these uncertain times.  Like many other departments within the Nation, the workforce has been temporarily reduced, and remaining employees take on additional responsibilities.

     The Education Department altered programs and services in response to situations caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Each division within the department provided a brief update.

HHCDA offers one-time Rental Assistance in response to COVID-19

     In response to the declared State of Emergency during the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Ho-Chunk Housing & Community Development Agency (HHCDA) offers one-time rental assistance to eligible households.  The grant amount cannot exceed $700 and will be released to the landlord. 

Language Division launches inaugural online Hoocak exercises

     The Hoocak Waazija Haci Language Division developed a self-guided, self-paced, language learning experience called the Hoocak Online Independent Targeted Exercises (HOIT’E) Program.  Lessons began April 6, runs eight weeks, and geared towards beginner level Hoocak language learners.

Transport Division and Community Health upgrade transport unit

     Community Health in cooperation with the Ho-Chunk Nation Transportation Division have upgraded a transport unit for the protection and comfort of the driver and passenger.  Thank you, Roberto!  This was a direct result of input from our employees and concerned community members.

Food Distribution Program remains operational

     The Ho-Chunk Nation Food Distribution Program provides USDA commodity foods to eligible participants meeting lowered income guidelines and are federally recognized Native Americans or elderly persons residing on, or near, reservation lands.  The Food Distribution Program offers up to 75 food items in canned, dried, or fresh produce items.  Products include fruit, vegetable, dairy, pasta, poultry, beef, cereal, and flour.

     The main office and warehouse is located in Black River Falls and provide services daily.  Tailgate services are offered in Wisconsin Dells, Madison, Wittenberg, Tomah, La Crosse, and Nekoosa.

HHCDA announces Emergency Utility Loan Program

     The Ho-Chunk Housing & Community Development Agency (HHCDA) provides an Emergency Utility Loan of up to $400 to low or moderate income HHCDA tenants or Ho-Chunk Nation members who own their own homes.  This loan is intended to address members’ need for utility assistance resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic.


Life Skills Coordinator collaborates with Youth Services to deliver planting project packages

     The Ho-Chunk Nation Social Services Family Services Program teamed up with Youth Services to provide planting project packages to 73 Ho-Chunk youth.  The program must remain in compliance with their grants, and events they were supposed to hold are canceled or postponed due to the pandemic.  The employees have been planning alternative activities.

     The planting project packages include planting pots, seed pods, soil, Popsicle sticks, paint pens, and instructions.  Youth decorate the planting pots with the paint pens and then add a seed pod and soil.  The Popsicle sticks can be used to label parsley, chives, or basil - the three seed pods that are offered.

Purchase a printer and ink with the Education Department’s COVID-19 Response Relief program

     The Ho-Chunk Nation Education Department announces a new COVID-19 Response Relief program that will purchase a printer and extra ink cartridges for families.  Due to the pandemic and remote learning requirement, assistance is available for students in grades K-12 attending public or private schools.

     There are no options to change the make or model of the printer.  The printer will be the HP Deskjet 3755 Inkjet Multifunction Printer Color Copier/Printer/Scanner with additional black and color ink cartridges.

Executive Order May 4, 2020-1

     “I, President Marlon E. WhiteEagle, modify the general working times for Administration and Programs of the Ho-Chunk Nation Executive Branch. See ERA, 6 HCC §§ 5.31, -32d, -69, -76.  The Ho-Chunk Nation Executive Branch employees (excluding the Ho-Chunk Nation Department of Health, Ho-Chunk Nation enterprises, Executive Directors, and contract, exempt, and grant employees) will be operational for 32 hours per week until further notice; general working times for Administration and Programs of the Ho-Chunk Nation Executive Branch will be Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.  The Ho-Chunk Nation Department of Health will remain open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  If there is a need for additional critical staff and hours, then it must be addressed with the Ho-Chunk Nation President as soon as practicable.”

Weaver approved as interim HCN Department of Business executive director

     Kelli D. Weaver has been approved as the interim executive director for the Ho-Chunk Nation Department of Business.  The Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature approved Weaver on Tuesday, May 5, 2020.  She received the vote from legislature members, six to six, with President Marlon WhiteEagle breaking the tie for approval.

Ho-Chunk Nation Veteran gravesites honored with flags

     Starting on May 5, volunteers placed flags at the gravesites of Ho-Chunk Nation Veterans at Blue Wing Cemetery.  An additional two days were dedicated to visiting Decorah Cemetery, Indian Mission Church Cemetery, Decorah Prairie Cemetery, and Trempealeau Cemetery.

Ho-Chunk Nation announces soft reopening of Madison casino

     Ho-Chunk Gaming – Madison was selected to reopen on Wednesday, May 27, 2002, utilizing an effectual safety and sanitation plan.  The staff at Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison has implemented and will enforce the utmost health and safety of its guests and employees.

     With Dane County’s Public Health announcement of Forward Dane yesterday, Ho-Chunk Gaming – Madison is following the advisement for a cautious reopen.  The casino will reopen with a phased-in process and initially not including the general public.

Water Quality Reports for the Ho-Chunk Nation Membership

     Annual Water Quality reports are now available for calendar year 2019 for those people living in a Ho-Chunk community that is served by a Community Water Supply.


Madison Casino Reopens in Phases

     The phased opening began May 27 at Ho-Chunk Gaming – Madison.  Guests formed a line around the edge of the parking lot extending from the front door to the second driveway before the doors unlocked at 10:00 AM.  The Department of Business, Department of Health, Department of Labor Safety Division, and the Executive Management team at Ho-Chunk Gaming – Madison collaborated for a safe, phased reopen.

2020 Annual Address Verification – Notice from the Ho-Chunk Nation Office of Tribal Enrollment

     In accordance to HCC § 12, Per Capita Distribution Ordinance, Sec. 7c.  Each member shall be required to submit an annual verification form (either paper or electronic) to the Enrollment Office in accordance with the procedures and instructions promulgated by the Enrollment Office.

     In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ho-Chunk Nation leadership had to make the difficult decision to implement an emergency plan to only maintain employees to perform the critical functions and services within the Nation’s governmental structure.  Please take note of the AVF schedule.

Tomah Protests Peacefully

     June 2, protestors peacefully traveled alongside Superior Avenue in downtown Tomah showing support of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement, anti-racism, peace, and the end of police brutality.

     Approximately 135 men, women, and children of all ages and races gathered at Gillet Park and listened to organizer Quinton Hanson’s message.  Per April 2019 Enrollment data, Monroe County is home to 447 enrolled Ho-Chunk members. Multiple members participated and marched.

Farm to Families Program Food Distribution in various Ho-Chunk Nation locations

     Farm to Families Food Box Program began May 29 thanks in part to the Farm to Families Program, the Hunger Task Force, and the Ho-Chunk Nation.  The Ho-Chunk Nation Community Health Team organized Nation workers and volunteers distributing foods to families.

     A limited number of boxes filled with fresh and nutritious foods are available to Ho-Chunk Nation families in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The program is based on a first-come, first-served basis.  Pick up locations include Black River Falls, Tomah, Wisconsin Dells, Wittenberg, Green Bay, La Crosse, Madison, Nekoosa, Milwaukee, Chicago, and Minneapolis.

Flag Raising Ceremony with No Memorial Day Powwow

     May 25, 2020, was unlike any other Memorial Day holiday at the Andrew Blackhawk powwow grounds near Black River Falls.  The Ho-Chunk Nation did not sponsor a powwow due to public health safety concerns amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, the Andrew Blackhawk Legion Post 129 organized a Flag Raising Ceremony.

‘Justice for Kozee’ gathering in Wausau calls for upgraded charges

     Family, friends, and supporters of Kozee Montana Featherstone Medicinetop Decorah, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, gathered on June 5 outside the Marathon County Courthouse in Wausau for justice.  Decorah was murdered May 16 in a remote, wooded area on the Winnebago Indian Reservation in Winnebago, Nebraska.  It is believed that Jonathan Daniel Rooney, Decorah’s boyfriend and father of her children, was involved and is being charged with Manslaughter in Indian Country.

     The family believes the charge should be upgraded and that the rally outside the Courthouse works to bring awareness to Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women across the country.  The maximum punishment for Manslaughter in Indian Country is 15 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, a three year term of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment.

Estebo nominated for Ho-Chunk Nation Executive Director of Business

     Andrea “Pepper” Estebo has been nominated by President Marlon WhiteEagle for the position of Ho-Chunk Nation Executive Director of Business.  Prior to her nomination she served in the Office of the President as the Executive Legislative Information Officer since July 2019.

Requiring a face mask becomes more common

     Two top health agencies, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend the use of face masks while in public.  More nonessential businesses are reopening, and several set a face mask policy for customers.

     Numerous retail stores, grocery stores, hospitals, pharmacies, public transportation, airplanes, and ride-hailing services make it their policy to make it mandatory for both employees and patrons to wear a face mask.  The casinos operated by the Ho-Chunk Nation require face masks for both employees and patrons. 

Three Ho-Chunk Gaming facilities reopen June 29

     Casinos located near Black River Falls, Wisconsin Dells, and Wittenberg reopen on Monday, June 29, with strict guidelines.  The hours of operation vary at each location.

     Ho-Chunk Gaming – Black River Falls operates Sunday through Wednesday from 8:00 AM to 12:00 AM, and Thursday through Saturday 8:00 AM to 2:00 AM.  Ho-Chunk Gaming – Wisconsin Dells opens daily from 9:00 AM to 1:00 AM.  Ho-Chunk Gaming – Wittenberg runs Sunday through Thursday from 8:00 AM to 12:00 AM, and Friday to Saturday 8:00 AM to 2:00 AM.

Outstanding Native American varsity high school athletes named

     The 2019-20 Northern Indigenous All State Teams (NIAST) recognize outstanding Native American varsity high school athletes.  Several Ho-Chunk sportspersons made the Wisconsin list.

     Females named were Olivia Curley, grade 12, from Wittenberg-Birnamwood for basketball; Kanani Blackdeer, grade 12, from Black River Falls for softball; Allison Giroux, grade 10 from Black River Falls for swimming; and Jenna Quackenbush, grade 12 from Black River Falls for golf.

     Males included Elliot Bird, grade 11, from Black River Falls for football; Joseph Pecore, grade 11, from Stevens Point for football; Bryson Funmaker, grade 12, from Wisconsin Dells for basketball; Joseph White Eagle, Jr., grade 12, from Baraboo for basketball; Cameron Logan, grade 12, from Baraboo for hockey and Lacrosse; and Alexander Thundercloud, grade 12, from Milwaukee for hockey and track and field.

American Red Cross testing for COVID-19 Antibody Status when you give blood

     The American Red Cross will test all blood, platelet, and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies for a limited time.  This testing may provide insight into whether donors have possibly been exposed to the coronavirus and perhaps never developed symptoms. 

Showcase 2020 Graduates

     Three pages displayed photos, names, accomplishments, and future endeavors of Ho-Chunk Nation graduates.  The graduates range from head start through college.


Financial setbacks hit the Hocak Worak

     Like many other departments and divisions within the Ho-Chunk Nation, the Hocak Worak experienced financial hindrances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.  The newest approved 60-day budget resulted in a reduced number of pages published.  Before the new budget year, the Hocak Worak published 16 pages.  Now the Hocak Worak publishes 12 pages.

No August Per Cap

     On July 7, 2020 there was a regular meeting of the Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature at the Tribal Executive Offices near Black River Falls.  A resolution regarding Per-Capita Declaration for August 1, 2020 was on the agenda.  Those listening via Webex heard the resolution did not pass.

     The Legislature looked at the revenue since the coronavirus has started to close our casinos and current revenue projections.  The Nation’s casinos had been closed for over three months and it severely impacted revenues.  In facing the unprecedented threat, the Legislature had to consider revenue shortfalls under the tribe’s revenue allocation plan.  Another possible motivation for the action of the Legislature was to save as much as possible due to the potential for another shutdown.

     This resulted in the Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature initiating an emergency relief program called CARES Act Emergency Relief Assistance to Tribal Members.  The program is intended to assist adult tribal members that are impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg Reopening: A Triumph!

     Wittenberg, WI – On Monday, June 29, 2020, after 14 weeks of being closed, Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg anxiously reopened the facility doors; with new health and safety standards to help reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19 to both customers and employees. 

Greendeer-Rave no longer serving as Attorney General

     Ho-Chunk Nation President Marlon WhiteEagle today regrets to announce that Michelle Greendeer-Rave will no longer be serving as Ho-Chunk Nation Attorney General for the Department of Justice.

Masks & Social Distancing Required at District Area Meetings

     July 8 marks the first District Area Meeting since the April 22 announcement that the Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature discontinued Area Meetings due to COVID-19 pandemic concerns.  The Legislative Branch were following the advice of health professional by cancelling District Area Meetings.

Meet the Nominated Attorney General

     On July 14, 2020, President Marlon WhiteEagle nominated David A. Wilson for the position of Attorney General. Mr. Wilson brings with him a passion for justice and helping people resolve problems. Mr. Wilson currently works for the Ho-Chunk Nation Judiciary as the Senior Staff Attorney where he advises the Court on a variety of civil and criminal legal matters. Mr. Wilson began working for the Ho-Chunk Nation Judiciary in February 2017.

La Crosse man arrested after seven Ho-Chunk Nation vehicles vandalized

     Seven Ho-Chunk Nation fleet vehicles were damaged near the La Crosse Branch Office in broad daylight.

     According to a Police report, Saturday, July 18, at 11:38 AM, a police officer was flagged down by an employee who advised multiple vehicles were damaged on the south side of the parking lot.  All vehicles had their windshields smashed with what appeared to be a heavy object.

     The Ho-Chunk Nation has video cameras pointing directly at the vehicles, and the footage turned over to the La Crosse Police. 

     Danny L. Link, 39, of La Crosse was arrested July 20 with Criminal Damage to Property, Disorderly Conduct, and Bail Jumping-Misdemeanor.


Funding allocated for specific Pre K-12 Grants

     The Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature allocated funding for the Ho-Chunk Nation’s Pre K-12 Grant Program to assist students with necessary costs for the upcoming school year.  The funding amount per student decreased and is for nine specific grants.

     The limit for the 2020-21 year is $2,000 per student.  This amount used to be $2,500.

HHCDA extends the COVID-19 rental assistance program

     The Ho-Chunk Housing and Community Development Agency (HHCDA) announced a one-time rental assistance program in April in response to the COVID-19 virus and the declared state of emergency.  This rental assistant program now extends to two payments for those applicants approved between April 24 and August 3, 2020.

Planning for the Annual Meeting of General Council 2020 amidst COVID-19

     The Office of General Council faces a unique, unprecedented situation with planning the 2020 General Council amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.  A volunteer General Council Planning Workgroup debated meeting in person versus a virtual meeting for the December 5 event.

     As of an August 26, 2020, Enrollment Office query, there are a total of 7,881 enrolled Ho-Chunk Nation members.  Total voting-age members are 6,143.  Twenty percent of the eligible voters constitute a quorum.  The quorum for General Council 2020 is approximately 1,229.

     The workgroup moves forward, planning a virtual meeting and labeling it the GC2020 E-Meeting to ensure the safety and well-being of all tribal members.

2020 ANNUAL ADDRESS VERIFICATION - Notice from the HCN Office of Tribal Enrollment

     In previous notifications, the Ho-Chunk Nation Enrollment Office stated that it would be distributing the 2020 Annual Address Verification form on September 1, 2020.

     However, due to the lack of funding, the Enrollment Office neither has the resources, nor the staff to ensure that it occurs as planned.

     Therefore, the issuance of the 2020 AVF is suspended until further notice. If the situation changes an update will be forthcoming.

Final Farm to Families Distribution August 21

     We are so very fortunate to have had the partnerships step up and fulfill a need among our communities. The Food Box Program was coordinated by the Community Health Office under Director Sara Peterson and the HCN Department of Health under Executive Director Kiana Beaudin. With their leadership, guidance, support and active participation, we were able to assemble a variety of reassigned workers and community volunteers to make the distribution of nearly 1,000,000 pounds of food to 11 different areas.

     While the Department is committed to continuing to find resources for our communities directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the weekly program distribution will have its final day August, 21, 2020.

Michael Sallaway serves HCN Legislators with a lawsuit

     In the August 26 open session of the Ho-Chunk Nation Legislative Finance Committee meeting, Michael Sallaway served the Legislators in attendance with a lawsuit stating they violated the law concerning the passage of a resolution to call a Special General Council meeting.


Hoocak families gather at Maa Wákacak perpetuating culture

     Once hailed as the world’s largest ammunition plant and having been turned back over to its rightful caretakers, the Hoocak (Ho-Chunk), the Badger Ammunition plant recently played host to several Hoocak families for a cooperative art project.

Judge Hunter schedules possible Contempt of Court charges hearing for Sept. 17

     On Monday, Aug. 31, Ho-Chunk Nation Trial Court Judge Mary Jo Hunter scheduled a “show cause” hearing telephonically for 10 am Thursday, Sept. 17, of a court violation by the Ho-Chunk Legislature.

     The hearing is to listen to argument why Judge Hunter should not hold Vice President Karena Thundercloud and Legislative Attorney Mike Murphy with Contempt of Court.

     The “show cause order,” also called an “order to show cause,” mandates that an individual or corporation make a court appearance to explain why the court should not take a proposed action.

Injunction issued to HCN Legislature on making any budgetary decisions

     A legal action has determined that the Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature must refrain from making any budgetary decisions until a hearing can be made on Monday, Aug. 31

     An “Ex Parte Temporary Restraining Order and Scheduling Preliminary Injunction Hearing” has been issued by the Ho-Chunk Nation Trial Court. The hearing is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 31.

     The Honorable Associate Trial Court Judge Mary Jo B. Hunter ruled on the matter.

Trial Court Judge Mary Jo B. Hunter listens to an argument in show cause hearing

     Thursday, September 17, 2020, Ho-Chunk Nation Trial Court Judge Mary Jo B. Hunter listened to why Judge Hunter should not hold Vice President Karena Thundercloud and Legislative Attorney Mike Murphy in Contempt of Court.

     The Ho-Chunk Nation Trial Court conducted the show cause hearing telephonically due to the pandemic’s current status.

Two new Ho-Chunk Nation Gaming Commissioners

     September 22, 2020, two newly appointed Gaming Commissioners, Michael J. Owen and Quentin R. Allen, were sworn into office behind the Tribal Office Building near Black River Falls.

Ho-Chunk Nation Wins Legal Challenge Aimed at Preventing Destruction of Wetlands

Monroe County Judge Rejects Meteor Timber’s Request to Reinstate DNR Permit

     Madison, WI—Today, a Monroe County Circuit Court judge ruled in favor of the Ho-Chunk Nation, represented by Midwest Environmental Advocates (MEA), and Clean Wisconsin in a decision that continues to prevent the out of-state frac sand company Meteor Timber, LLC, from destroying 16 acres of globally rare wetlands in Monroe County.  

     In his ruling today, Judge Ziegler found that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) violated state wetland laws when it issued a permit to Meteor Timber in 2017 to build an industrial sand processing facility and rail project in the Town of Grant in Monroe County. 

Anthony Falcon nominated for Executive Director of Treasury

     Ho-Chunk Nation President Marlon WhiteEagle has announced the nomination of Anthony Falcon to the position of Executive Director of the Department of Treasury.  His nomination was delivered to the HCN Legislature on Monday, Sept. 14, 2020.

Notice of Special General Council

     “To date, there is no location, no date, and no budget for a Special General Council Meeting that the Legislature called.  Additionally, no safety measures have been requested or approved by the Nation’s COVID-19 Response Team.”


No November Per Cap

     October 6, the Ho-Chunk Nation Legislative Branch announced in a Facebook post that the Ho-Chunk Legislature has decided there will be no November per capita and plan accordingly.  Tribal members are encouraged to apply for COFA and other available programs.

     In July, a similar decision was made at a regular meeting of the Legislature regarding the Per-Capita Declaration for August.  There was no August per cap.  This action resulted in the Legislature initiating an emergency relief program called Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Other Financial Assistance or COFA.

Little Eagle Arts Foundation reveals Hoocak mural at Maa Wákacak

     Once hailed as the world’s largest ammunition plant, and having been turned back over to its rightful caretakers, the Hoocak (Ho-Chunk), the Badger Ammunition plant recently played host to the revealing of a cultural mural.

     The mural titled “Earth, Sky, Water”, a cooperative art project, was placed on the Great Sauk Trail that skirts the property on its eastern edge. The mural has been permanently installed to repurposed stem walls on the Great Sauk State Trail, and the opportunity was afforded, intended as a gift of appreciation and in recognition for the generous donation the Hoocak Nation gave to complete the trail.

Ho-Chunk Nation Vice President found in Contempt of Court

     Ho-Chunk Nation Vice President Karena Thundercloud was found in Contempt of Court by the Honorable Mary Jo Hunter, associate trial court judge for the Ho-Chunk Nation Trial Court.

     The decision was handed down by Judge Hunter on Monday, Sept. 28.

HCN Education Department awarded grant to prepare students for higher education, careers

     Executive Director of Education Nehomah Thundercloud recently announced the award of a Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) grant to the Ho-Chunk Nation Education Department.

     The grant will create three new positions whose exclusive aim will be to promote career and college readiness for Ho-Chunk students and families.

     The first year of the grant has been designated as a planning year, which will be funded by the grant for $765,673. One grant administrator will be hired in January 2021 and two student services specialists in May 2021.

Anthony Falcon begins as OOP Business Service Auditor

     Ho-Chunk Nation President Marlon WhiteEagle has announced the addition of Anthony Falcon to the Office of the President as Business Service Auditor.  Falcon began his new position on Monday, Sept. 28, 2020.

HCN Legislature suspends rent and mortgage payments

     The Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature has suspended rent and mortgage payments for Department of Housing, HHCDA, and Nation Water and Sewer through March 2021.  Renters who miss a payment will not be penalized but should set up arrangements to pay.

WilloWood Inn hosts Native American Artisans

     With fall in full swing, the Baraboo Artisan Backyard Art Walk and Drive was a welcome option this past Saturday for folks to get out and enjoy the outdoors and work of local artisans. 

     According to the Baraboo Artisan Backyard Art Walk and Drive Facebook page, ten stops on the tour hosted different artisans around the Baraboo, Wisconsin area. The public had an opportunity to talk with each local artist and craftsman about their art making processes.  It also stated, it was “a special day for Baraboo's Creative Community with social distancing observed, following the ‘Safer in Sauk’ Guidelines.”

     One of the stops was the WilloWood Inn located just South of the downtown area, owned and operated by Hoocak (Ho-Chunk) Angie Lowe. The venue offered the public the opportunity to view Native American artwork and learn its significance to the artists and their cultures.

HHCDA currently offering Rental Assistance, Mortgage Assistance, and Elder Utility Assistance

     In response to those families economically impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ho-Chunk Housing and Community Development Agency (HHCDA) offers grant assistance programs.

     These most recent grant programs include Rental Assistance up to $1,400.00, Mortgage Assistance up to $2,100.00, and Elder Utility Grants up to $350.00.  At this time, the Rental Assistance and the Mortgage Assistance are for new applicants only.

GC2020 E-Meeting updates

     This year, the General Council's annual meeting convenes on December 5 in a virtual setting to ensure the safety and well-being of all tribal members during the pandemic.  Plans are in place to assist Ho-Chunk Nation tribal members with the necessary tools and experience to make the event productive.

     That plan includes a Mock E-Meeting scheduled for Friday, November 20, and currently scheduled to run from 1:00 PM until 3:00 PM.

     Tribal members experience navigating the virtual meeting during the Mock E-Meeting. Participants practice logging in, raising your hand, using the microphone, and voting.

The 2020 Census finishes collecting responses

     The 2020 Census wrapped up last week on Oct. 15, with the U.S. Census Bureau reporting that 43.7% of Ho-Chunk Nation households were counted.  The bureau ended operations more than two weeks earlier than originally planned.


Harsher charges against Nebraska man

     A Winnebago, Nebraska, man accused of killing 22-year-old Kozee Decorah on the Winnebago Indian Reservation, has now been charged with murder.  The murder charge replaces a previous charge of manslaughter.

     A grand jury on Oct. 23 filed a second superseding indictment charging Jonathan Rooney with second-degree murder and tampering with documents or proceedings in Indian Country.

2020 Election results for three Ho-Chunk candidates

     Rep. Sharice Davids of Kansas wins a second term.  The Ho-Chunk Nation member made history in 2018 as one of the first two Native women elected to U.S. Congress.  Davids wins 53.4% over Amanda Adkins 43.8% in Kansas District 3.

     Democratic Tricia Zunker lost her bid to Republican Tom Tiffany for the Wisconsin 7th District congressional seat.  Zunker claimed 39.2% of votes to Tiffany’s 60.8%.

     Amanda WhiteEagle came up short in the race against incumbent Treig Pronschinske for the Wisconsin State Assembly to represent District 92.  Pronschinske wins 17,270 votes to WhiteEagle’s 12,197 votes.

Judge rules legislative action unconstitutional

     The Ho-Chunk Legislature has acted in an unconstitutional manner, according to a ruling by the Ho-Chunk Nation Trial Court.

     The Honorable Associate Trial Court Judge Mary Jo Hunter of the Ho-Chunk Trial Court issued the decision on Friday, October 30, 2020.

Michael Rave confirmed as Ho-Chunk Nation Executive Director of Business

     Ho-Chunk Nation President Marlon WhiteEagle nominated Michael Rave on Monday, August 17, 2020.  Rave was confirmed on Monday, November 2, 2020.  Rave was most recently the Director of Planning and Development division.

Mock E-meeting Provides Orientation for GC2020

     Enrolled Ho-Chunk Nation members were invited to attend a mock e-meeting on November 20, 2020.  The mock meeting provided attendees an opportunity to navigate the virtual meeting space in preparation for the Annual Meeting of General Council scheduled for December 5.

Circle of Excellence Awards honor the American Indian Community Development Corporation in Minneapolis

     On November 17, the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) announced six winners of its Circle of Excellence Awards.  Organizations that have partnered with DHS and executed an exemplary job of providing food, shelter, and other assistance to Minnesotans in need were recognized.

     The winners are the American Indian Community Development Corporation (AICDC), Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud, CHUM (formerly known as Churches United in Ministry), Family Wise, Olmsted County Housing and Redevelopment Authority, and United Community Action Partnership.

COFA ends in December and HELP begins in January

     The Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature has established a new optional program this month for eligible tribal members.  They initiated an emergency relief program called COFA (CARES Other Financial Assistance) back in July to assist tribal members impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.  The final COFA payment disperses in December with the expiration of the federal CARES Act appropriations.  A new program called the Ho-Chunk Economic Legacy Project (HELP) will begin, using the tribe’s NPD funding.

     The HELP payments are $700 and scheduled for monthly distribution from January through June.  Enrolled tribal members interested in this new assistance are encouraged to apply before December 18, 2020.

Laura LaMere Sustain Dane’s Live Forward Award Winner

     Madison, WI November 12, 2020 – Laura LaMere has been honored as one of four Sustain Dane’s Live Forward award recipients. This is quite an achievement as Sustain Dane is the sustainability organization in Dane County. They are dedicated to creating a community based on holistic sustainability, a healthy environment, a just economy, and equity & social wellbeing for all. The seven other nominees included Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.


The Ho-Chunk Nation Assembles Historic Virtual Meeting of the General Council

     The Ho-Chunk Nation’s Annual Meeting of the General Council convened in the first-ever virtual setting on Saturday, December 5.  This Annual Meeting is one of the largest and most vital events of the Ho-Chunk Nation because the tribal membership meets to set policy for the Ho-Chunk Nation.

     Meeting virtually has become a useful tool in preventing the spread of covid-19.  Governments, businesses, schools, individuals, and the world has had to adjust their daily lives to stay safe during the pandemic.  Wisconsin became a hot spot for the virus in the past few months and community spread is uncontained.

     The Office of General Council coordinated and broadcasted the E-Meeting from Ho-Chunk Gaming – Wisconsin Dells with assistance from Lumi, Majic Productions, and the Ho-Chunk Nation IT Division. 

     Like past in-person General Council meetings, the determination of quorum for this year’s E-Meeting was to be established through registration and electronic vote.  Although quorum was not met this year, Emcee Matthew Mann announced that there were 1,239 individuals registered at one point during the meeting.  A total of 727 individuals participated in the final quorum vote. 

Fire in Tomah causes damage to the Ho-Chunk Museum and Cultural Center

     A structure fire broke out just before 5:00 AM on November 29 in downtown Tomah, Wisconsin.  Two historic buildings located at 1110 and 1112 Superior Avenue were a total loss.  The Ho-Chunk Museum and Cultural Center is located at 1108 Superior Avenue and is next door to where the blaze happened.

     The Ho-Chunk Museum and Cultural Center suffered smoke and water damage.  The Heritage Preservation staff stored the museum collection in the basement, and part of the collection was submerged in water.  The roof of the Museum sustained fire damage.

Ryan John Crain, Sr. receives a Rising Stars Under 40 award

     The River Valley Media Group and The 7 Rivers Alliance selected 28 recipients from three states as the 2020 Rising Stars Under 40.  The Rising Stars is a program recognizing and celebrating rising stars’ achievements and encouraging them to remain in the region.  This year, Ho-Chunk Nation tribal member and motivational speaker Ryan John Crain, Sr., of Sparta, received an award.