Regional and Local Briefs: July 2015
Friday, July 10 2015
Written by The Circle Staff,
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BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. – The Ho-Chunk Nation is going smoke-free at its gaming facility in Madison, Wisconsin.

Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison will be the first tribal facility in the state to eliminate smoking. The change goes into effect on Aug. 1.

Electronic cigarettes, however, will continue to be allowed on the gaming floor. A separate area for smokers of traditional cigarettes will be created away from the facility.

“We still believe in providing areas to accommodate all of our guests, but, want to assure the existing building will be 100% smoke-free,” Daniel Brown, facility executive manager, said.

The Wisconsin Smoke-Free Air Law, which went into effect in July 2010, requires restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and other public facilities to go smoke-free. The law does not apply in Indian Country.


FLANDREAU, S.D. – The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe of South Dakota plans to sell marijuana by Jan. 1, 2016.

The tribal council voted 5-1 in mid-June to legalize the drug for commercial, recreational and medicinal use. Marijuana will be grown at a dedicated facility located on the reservation. The drug will then be sold and consumed at separate facility on the reservation. The tribe plans to welcome all people – Indians and non-Indians – to the operation.

But South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said any non-Indians who consume marijuana on the reservation will be in violation of state law. He asked the tribe to work with the state to address law enforcement, safety and other issues.

“I want to encourage tribal leaders to continue to work with state authorities to better ensure our respective laws are followed, public safety on our roads remains a consideration, and that both Indian and non-Indian persons are not put in harm’s way by the jurisdiction complexities being created by our federal government,” Jackley said in a press release.

The tribe is the first in South Dakota to legalize the drug and adopt a comprehensive set of laws and policies to address its sale and use. Elsewhere in the state, drug laws remain extremely strict.

The Department of Justice opened the door to legal marijuana in Indian Country with the 2014 Wilkinson memo. So far, only one tribe in California has started growing the drug and local authorities plan to assert jurisdiction if they believe the operation violates local laws.

The tribe is the first in South Dakota to legalize the drug and adopt a comprehensive set of laws and policies to address its sale and use. Elsewhere in the state, drug laws remain extremely strict. The Department of Justice opened the door to legal marijuana in Indian Country with the 2014 Wilkinson memo.


PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Board on Geographic Names voted 4-1 on June 29 to retain the name of Harney Peak despite its connection to the massacre of tribal people.

Board members said the public does not support a change to "Hinhan Kaga," the Lakota name for the sacred site in the Black Hills. But confusion arose in the process because the board initially considered "Black Elk Peak" as the name.

The board in fact held five meetings to discuss Black Elk Peak. According to news reports, there was near unanimous support from the public for that name. Hinhan Kaga was a newer suggestion. Officials in Pennington County opposed that name, which translates to Place of Owls, according to Delphine Red Shirt, a citizen of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

Basil Brave Heart, Oglala, originally proposed "Black Elk Peak" as the new name. Black Elk was an Lakota medicine man who died in 1950. His proposal is being considered by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. The South Dakota board's vote will be considered as a recommendation as part of the process.

Tribal citizens support a new name because General William S. Harney led a massacre of the Lakota people in 1854 during the Indian wars.


TOWER, Minn. – The Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe opened a second location of Tim Hortons Cafe & Bake Shop located at The Y Store near Tower.

Tribal officials said the opening is part of the tribe's economic diversification strategy. “A lot of hard work went into this project and we feel it’s just another way for us to invest in our future," Norm Adams, the CEO of Bois Forte Business Development, said.

The tribe also operates a Tim Hortons at the nearby Fortune Bay Resort Casino. The Canadian-based fast casual restaurant is known for its coffee and doughnuts.


PONEMAH, Minn. – The Red Lake Band of Ojibwe will host an Ojibwe Language and Culture Camp from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 21-23 p.m. at the Ponemah Round House to help with the Red Lake Nation’s Ojibwemowin Revitalization efforts.

The three-day camp is hosted by Red Lake Chemical Health, Red Lake Economic Development and Planning, and Oshkimaajitahdah (New Beginnings). It will feature canoeing, lacrosse, Ojibwe bingo, a moccasin game, plant identification, crafts, traditional Anishinaabe teachings and more, according to a release. Transportation and meals are provided.

Admission is free but there is a limited number of participants. For more information, contact Red Lake Chemical Health at (218) 679-3392.


WALKER, Minn. – The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, in collaboration with SAMHSA’s Center for the Application of Prevention Techniques, will offer Substance Abuse Prevention Skills Training for American Indians/Alaska Natives.

The training will be held July 13-16 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Northern Lights Casino in Walker, Minn..

The training combines online and in-person components. It offers practitioners working with American Indians or Alaska natives a comprehensive introduction to the substance abuse prevention field.

Grounded in current research and SAMHSA’s Strategic Prevention Framework, the training is designed to help practitioners develop the knowledge and skills needed to implement effective, data-driven prevention that reduces behavioral health disparities and improves wellness. It is appropriate for entry level practitioners as well as professionals in related fields.

The SAPST consists of a five-hour, self-paced online module, followed by a four-day, 26-hour interactive, in-person training.

The online module is now available. Participants must complete the online module before July 13. To register for both the online module and the in-person service, visit: For more information, call Shawn MacGregor at 218-335-8371 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

A certificate for 31 hours of participation will be provided through Central CAPT upon completion of both the online module and in-person training.


CLOQUET, Minn. – The Fond du Lac Band, working with Earth Economics, of Seattle, Wash., commissioned a study of the economic benefits of ecosystem goods and services provided by the St. Louis River watershed.

Quantifying these benefits allows the “natural capital” to be included in economic tools and decision-making.

The St. Louis River provides an estimated $5 billion to $14 billion in ecosystem service benefits per year. The asset value of the watershed is between $273 billion and $687 billion over 140 years.

Fond du Lac Chair, Karen Diver, says "The Fond du Lac Band takes our environmental and cultural stewardship of the St. Louis River watershed, our homeland, very seriously. We understand the connection between healthy lands, communities, and economies. We recognize that the lands and waters must be conserved and protected for our shared benefit and future generations. We hope this report generates discussion with local, state and federal partners about how we can best invest in and preserve these irreplaceable natural and cultural resources."


BEMIDJI, Minn. – A movement led by people in Bemidji and their neighbors both on and off nearby reservations have set out to find a path to reconciliation between whites and Native Americans.

No government is taking part; no plan has been laid; no blame will be assessed; and no one knows how long this journey might take. “Truth and reconciliation is not an event,” Anton Treuer, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, one of the people facilitating the process, said.

“It’s not something that happens in a week, a month or a year. It’s a process and it might take a really long time. If it’s just something short then it’s only something to make people feel good rather than to really change the culture and reconcile the historical experiences of diverse people.” Treuer is an author and a professor at Bemidji State University.

The Blandin Foundation has been sending people to participate in the Bemidji effort, at the invitation of people in that group.

That kind of inclusiveness is equally crucial. Justin Beaulieu, Red Lake Band of Ojibwe, said, “One of our principles is to make sure the group is inclusive, to make sure everyone can participate and they feel comfortable participating. Who is at the table right now and who else needs to be?”

Part of the difficulty is the inclination to put difficult events into the past and keep them there. Beaulieu says, “For me, personally, I hear ‘Get over it’ all the time from people, or ‘We didn’t do that.’ I just want people to understand, ‘Of course you didn’t do that, but it does have residual effects that have come down the line. And there’s new research being done that shows that those changes within the physiology can be passed along. We are trying to get over it, but it’s going to take help from everyone and understanding.”

Treuer summarized some of the challenges. “You can only really influence people who are in the room with you, so the goal is not to chase everybody away from the table and sit there eating alone. That’s why a lot of these things have failed in the past. If it goes too fast, then sometimes non-Native folks get really uncomfortable and step away because they’re way beyond their comfort zone, but if it goes too slowly then a lot of times people of color feel like it’s a feel-good pat on the back and nobody’s willing to do any real change. The trick is to go a bit in between where everybody agrees to stretch the bounds of their normal comfort and everybody agrees to be patient and kind in going through that process at the same time.”


OMAHA, Neb. – Amen Sheridan, a former chairman of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska, admitted his role in a theft case.

Sheridan, 54, pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to theft from an Indian tribal organization. He admitted that he knew Julia Whiteskunk took money from the tribe's housing authority and used it as down payment for a house. He also admitted the he helped her evade punishment.

Whiteskunk was serving as executive director of the tribe's housing authority at the time of the theft. Sheridan was serving as chairman. She also was indicted and pleaded not guilty to the charges. She died in September 2014.

Sheridan is due to be sentenced on Sept. 14, a little over a year after Whiteskunk's passing. He faces a maximum of 2 years and 6 months in federal prison.

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