LCO Vice Chairman Jason Schlender: Indian Education, New Directors and Other Updates
Boozhoo Indinawemaaganidog, niin sa Manidoo Noodin indizhinikaaz, Bizhiw indoodem.
I hope you enjoy my third report as Vice Chairman of Lac Courte Oreilles. Biboon is starting to set in and soon the lakes will be covered with ice. I will then be able to start spearing through the ice which is something I love to do.
In this week's edition I look forward to continue sharing relevant information regarding Lac Courte Oreilles with each of you. We have many ways in which news can be obtained. We have a weekly e-newsletter, an active tribal facebook page, monthly newspaper, and I maintain a personal facebook page as well. I hope the information shared in this article is helpful in informing you about my activities and some of the exciting things happening at Lac Courte Oreilles.
Tribal Caucus Meeting , November 16. I traveled to Bowler, WI to attend the Tribal Caucus meeting which focused on: ACT 31, Mascots & Logos, Safe Haven Law, PL 280, and Chapter 51. This is opportunity to work with other tribes to draft policy for Wisconsin State Assembly approval.
Inter-Tribal Criminal Justice Council, November 16. After attending the Tribal Caucus I attended the Inter-Tribal Criminal Justice Council. I was asked to be the Vice-Chair of the Council. There was a presentation by FirstNet and WISCOMM which explained how different law enforcement communicates with each other in the field.
My travel schedule is usually pretty intense, but this month I scaled it down as I prepare for my trip to Peru.
International Indigenous Exchange , Iquitos and Pucallpa, Peru, December 3-9. I was one of 5 people that were invited to attend the International Indigenous Exchange. The Confederacion De Nacionalides Amazonicas Del Peru invited delegates from the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission to participate in a cultural exchange as a way to collaborate on shared objectives of enriching indigenous exchange and sharing knowledge. The focus is on Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Forest Management. I am honored to represent Lac Courte Oreilles on an international level and feel it is a great honor to be invited to share in this historic event.
Cultural Responsiveness Training , Hayward, WI, November 6. I was asked by the Hayward Community School District to conduct a two hour cultural responsiveness training for the Hayward High School staff at the Hayward High School Auditorium. Topics discussed: Historical Trauma, Cultural competency, Act 31, and suggestions for lesson plans and strategies for engaging tribal member students and families.
LCO History Video Project with Northern Waters Environmental School , Reserve, WI, November 8. I was asked to assist the Northern Waters Environmental School with a video project focused on the history of the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe. I met the bus at Thoroughfare Bridge and I shared with the students and staff to offer a brief synopsis of the history of Lac Courte Oreilles. We talked about the Ojibwe migration story, the original Lac Courte Oreilles, Treaties; land theft, family names, communities in Lac Courte Oreilles and language and culture revitalization.
Every Monday and Wednesday I participate in the Middle School Boys Basketball Practice. I participate in order to stay active, but it's also about assisting coaches Bernard and Laura Taylor. He coaches about 15 boys and Laura coaches about 6 girls and that can be hectic if you don't have someone there to assist in coaching. The kids have really improved from last year. It is an awesome sight to see those kids having fun and enjoying the sport.
Indian Education Parent Advisory Committee (IEPAC)
The current IEPAC looks like this:
Chairperson: Karen Breit
Vice Chairperson: Jess Trepanier
Secretary/Treasurer: Marie Wooten
I want to encourage people to attend these meetings so that the community can maintain a strong line of communication with the Hayward Community School District and Lac Courte Oreilles. The meetings are held the second Tuesday of the month in the Cultural Rotunda in the LCO Community College at 5pm.
I will also be running for a spot on the Hayward School Board. I know we have made attempts in the past, but we need to keep trying so we can get a seat at the table. I hope to have your support in April when the school election is held.
The minutes of the Tribal Governing Board meeting are always published in the newsletter. I'd like to share some of the recent legislative action of the board for the month of November.
- the tribe passed a resolution declaring a state of emergency because of the abuse of methamphetamine, heroin, and illegal drugs
- tribe creates the Lac Courte Oreilles Drug Taskforce
- tribe creates the Lac Courte Oreilles Scholars Program
- tribe passed resolution amending PTO policy for the tribe
- tribe passed resolution referendum code
The tribal budget has been ratified by the council and is available by request. The process of formulating the budget was a long process and I commend the tribal CFO for her work in helping us put the budget together. It is important to say that since I have been on council that we have produced a balanced budget every fiscal year. We've had to make some tough changes that haven't been popular, but we had to do what was necessary to balance the budget.
Recently, the tribe amended its policy on personal time off (PTO) and with that change there will be employees that will be getting paid out for having accumulated more than the 288 hours of PTO. This is a one-time payout that won't exceed $6,000 per employee. These changes and payouts are necessary in order to reestablish the PTO scale. In most cases, these occur when employment is terminated, retirement, or if the system has to be overhauled.
I'm not going to point fingers at past councils for what happened during their Administrations. I will just say that I'm thankful for our Chief Financial Officer and the work she has done to educate myself and other council members on the finance and budget process for the tribe. The tribe is financially stable. We continue to deal with our high risk status and we continue to meet with the BIA about the most efficient way to relieve the tribe of this issue. The tribe needs to have two years of clean audits in order to be released from high risk status. I'm confident we will achieve that in the next couple years.
The referendum code was passed as a way to streamline the process for our tribal citizens that want to exercise their constitution right to petition decisions made by the Tribal Governing Board.
Luann Kolumbus has been hired as the Project Director of the Gwayako-Bimaadizwin Project which is focused on males 18-24 in the Lac Courte Oreilles Community. Luann has asked that I be her liaison for her program. I look forward to helping her carry out the project goals.
Chally Topping-Thompson was selected to be the Director of the Lac Courte Oreilles ICW program. Chally brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the program and I look forward to Chally maintaining a high level of professionalism and production that has made LCO a reputable program.
The tribe will be conducting interviews for the Conservation Director position. A date has not been set.
The tribe is also in negotiations with Cane Bay in regards to Lac Courte Oreilles Financial Services. The tribe currently receives a 500k annual distribution from LCOFS. The tribe met with Cane Bay on Tuesday, November 21st and the meeting was positive and we're confident that we can receive more annually with a new agreement.
The Holiday season is upon us and that means the Christmas checks have gone out as well. The tribe is fortunate enough to provide some surplus funds as a means to ease the financial burden that is incurred during this time.
To our elders and the employees of the tribe I say miigwech for all of your work and dedication to the people of Odaawaa Zaaga'iganiing. The reward for your work may not be enough, but it is something to help when some communities have nothing at all.
Miigwech for the opportunity to serve and Happy Thanksgiving.
LCO Tribal Governing Board