Ernie Stevens, Jr., Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA), presented the Ho-Chunk Nation with more than 4,000 facemasks for safety during the COVID pandemic.
Stevens and NIGA Senior Administrative Assistant Ricky Granquist came to the Tribal Office Building on Tuesday, April 27, to offer the facemasks to President Marlon WhiteEagle on behalf of the Ho-Chunk Nation.
Stevens also honored President WhiteEagle with the NIGA Badge of Honor pin, which he pinned onto WhiteEagle’s jacket lapel.
“We just want to help keep everyone safe during these times of health uncertainty,” Stevens said.
The facemasks were donated by famous basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar through his Skyhook Foundation. They were offered to NIGA to be distributed to the Native American tribes.
The masks, fabricated by the Ford Motor Company, will be distributed through Ho-Chunk facilities and programs.
For the first time, a Native American graduate of a tribal wellness court will speak at the Wisconsin Association of Treatment Court Professionals’ annual conference.
Karie Decorah, Ho-Chunk, will serve on a panel with other treatment court graduates on Thursday, April 29, as part of this year’s WATCP three-day gathering at the Kalahari Resort and Conference Center in Wisconsin Dells.
A main focus of WATCP’s mission, according to its website, is to reduce substance abuse, crime and recidivism by promoting and advocating the establishment and funding of treatment courts.
Decorah graduated from the Ho-Chunk Nation Family Wellness Court in August 2017, and on the same day, had legal custody of children returned to her after two years. It was the beginning of a new chapter in her life after struggling with substance abuse issues for 15 years.
“The Family Wellness Court has given me the support and resources to rebuild a healthier life in recovery,” said Decorah, who works as a pre-K-12 grant specialist at Ho-Chunk Nation Department of Education in Black River Falls and attends Western Technical College where she is studying for an associate degree in the accounting program. “The Family Wellness Court also held me accountable for my choices that weren’t always in my best interest. Because of this, I was able to look within myself and take responsibility for my choices.”
A 2014 report by the California-based Tribal Law and Policy Institute stated that since tribal wellness courts were started in 1997, they have “spawned a new generation of drug courts and, more importantly, a new beacon of hope for the continually devastating effects of alcohol and drug abuse in Indian country.” The report also cited that the arrest rate among Native Americans for alcohol-related offenses is more than double that found among other races, and that tribes that year reported more cases involving prescription drug, methamphetamine and inhalant abuse.
Decorah organized a local chapter of PROSPERITY in Recovery in Black River Falls in 2019 and serves as one of the group’s leaders. The purpose of the organization is to provide support and encouragement for people who are in “purpose driven recovery” and offer structure through fellowship-based activities.
John Dick, president of PROSPERITY in Recovery in Black River Falls, said the group has helped members gain confidence in taking leadership roles within the community, team building, fundraising, event planning, and budgeting.
“We’ve also gained experience collaborating with various organizations within the community and surrounding areas,” Dick said.
Ryan Dick, vice president of the group, said being involved in the organization “makes me feel like I’m giving something back to the recovery community.” He added, “I feel that it gives me a voice. Gives me a sense of purpose.”
Decorah will share her story of her road to recovery during the WATCP panel discussion. She plans to speak about what led her to addiction, how the Family Wellness Court program has helped her, and how her relationships have changed for the better.
She said she hopes her story can give hope to others who may be working their way through a treatment court.
WATCP is a professional organization representing the interests of treatment courts in Wisconsin. WATCP’s website states that its “multidisciplinary membership” includes judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, court administrators, treatment providers, probation and community corrections officers, social service caseworkers, and other stakeholders in the field of treatment courts. …
The Ho-Chunk Nation continues to be under a State of Emergency to address the COVID -19 public health emergency. Mask wearing, social distancing, and temperature screening orders remain in place for our Ho-Chunk lands and facilities.
Gov. Tony Evers and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes visited the Ho-Chunk Nation District 1 Community Center on Thursday, March 25.
Evers and Barnes toured the facility to witness the immunization clinic take place, where many people came to get their COVID – 19 vaccines.
Following the tour, a press conference was held in the small gym. President Marlon WhiteEagle, Health Department Executive Director Kiana Beaudin, Department of Health Services Karen Timberlake, Gov. Evers, and Lt. Gov. Barnes, made statements to the press about the great strides the Ho-Chunk Nation has made in offering vaccinations to the entire community.
Gov. Evers said that he has never seen an immunization clinic that provided the services in such an uplifting and happy manner.
After the press conference, Gov. Evers and Lt. Gov. Barnes met with healthcare professionals in a round-table discussion.