By Public Relations Officer Ken Luchterhand
Viewed as an opportunity to reach out to tribal governments, U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh stopped by to visit with Ho-Chunk officials at the Tribal Office Building on Tuesday, May 25.
His visit was part of a Wisconsin tour that included stops in Eau Claire, La Crosse, and Madison.
Walsh met with HCN President Marlon WhiteEagle, HCN Labor Department Executive Director Angela Ward, HCN Personnel Executive Director Kimberly Lonetree, and HCN Public Relations Officer Ken Luchterhand in the Office of the President Conference Room.
“I don’t want this to be a one-time visit arrangement, where I forget about you as soon as I leave. I want to continue a working relationship with the Ho-Chunk Nation and to maintain contact,” Walsh said.
President WhiteEagle was pleased for the opportunity.
“Secretary Walsh pledged to not just take a photo with us, but to continue the relationship with information sharing and he didn’t rule out additional visits to the Ho-Chunk Nation,” said President WhiteEagle. “He mentioned President Biden shared in his Cabinet meetings that the President is determined to work with tribes, or tribal governments.”
Walsh joined the Laborers’ Union Local 223 at age 21 and served as the union’s president until he became the mayor of Boston in 2013.
Walsh was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1997. He was the chairman of the Committee on Ethics, and served as a co-chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party Labor Caucus. During his tenure he also served as the co-chair for the Special Commission on Public Construction Reform.
He was the mayor of Boston until earlier this spring, when he resigned his position to become the U.S. Secretary of Labor. He was confirmed for the position by the United States Senate on March 22, 2021.
“Walsh showing up here shows that he is willing to work with tribes,” Ward said. “He asked if we thought the federal government has a good working relationship with the tribes. I said ‘no.’ He said that he wants to improve that relationship.”
Walsh visited the Ho-Chunk Department of Labor office, met with the Labor Department staff, and said he wants to continue a line of communication.
“That was good effort on his part – he wants to work with our Department of Labor. I believe he took our comments to heart and was actually listening to what we had to say,” Ward said.
President WhiteEagle was pleased with the visit and hopes the lines of communication remain open.
“It’s great when our federal counterparts come to visit the Ho-Chunk Nation. The visit went well and was a productive meeting to establish contacts with the U.S. Labor Department to increase the likelihood of future use of their programs and services,” WhiteEagle said.
“We are always looking for other sources of funding to help support our tribal programs and services across the board,” he said.