2012 State of the Nation Address - Chairman Randal Chevalier
Posoh Mawanew We yuk "Greetings Everyone" Waewaenen Skes Piyat Mawanih Weyuk. "Thank you all for being here". I want to take a moment to thank the Wolf River Singers, our Menominee Veterans, and Dave "Nahwahquah" Grignon for the opening ceremonies this morning.
As you know, we held our Annual Final elections, this past Wednesday and Thursday and I am pleased to announce the certification by the Tribal Election Commission of the top three winners; Menominee Tribal Legislature, Gary Besaw, Randolph R. Reiter, Joan Delabreau; Bryan "Sid" Lepscier, Chief of Police. A sincere congratulation to all of the winners. A reorganizational meeting will take place on February 9, 2012 to determine who your next legislative Officers will be. Since our outgoing Legislators will not be seated up here, I want to take a minute to thank the outgoing legislator’s who have served our Tribe well; Laurie Boivin, David "Jonsey" Miller, and myself.
Let me say that it has been a tremendous honor for me to serve our Nation and work with this Legislature, all of our tribal employees and departments and you; the Menominee People. It has become clear that we as a nation are blessed in so many ways. Not only do we have the smartest and most efficient group of employees I have ever worked with, but also we have you the community members and citizens that are most caring and step forward when needed.
On the State of our Nation, I want to start FROM A FINANCIAL STANDPOINT as that’s always a good indicator of where we stand. Although the Financial staff will be giving you a more detailed financial report, I want to just show this one graph.
This shows our reserve fund history. Like many other Tribes throughout the Country, we continue to muscle through a tough economy and a national recession. With the passing of this year’s FY2012 Annual Budget, the tribal legislature decided again that we would not reduce staff and services, but would rather do a combination of hour reductions, other cost savings measures and supplements from the Tribe’s reserve fund to continue to maintain staff and services.
With all things being considered and by all other accounts, cash on hand, bank account balances, State and Federal appropriations, gaming revenue transfers, that you will see later, The tribes is holding its own and doing fairly well.
FROM A LEGISLATIVE STANDPOINT, the Legislature met in early March of 2011 to set Goals for this legislative year.
• Performing an Energy assessment of the tribe’s facilities, this was researched by administration and the direction from the legislature was to have tribal administration work with other business and charter entities in the community to do a joint Energy Assessment effort. This will continue into the next legislative year.
• The MTL set up an Agriculture Work group to start a Community Garden/Agriculture project. The MTL authorized this work group to utilize a portion of the Krizan property for the community garden.
• An environmental goal was set to promote a clean forest, a clean up day for Earth Day was held by the High school Students under the direction of Legislator Lisa Waukau this also included some Tribal News messages written by our tribal youth.
• The Governmental affairs committee was tasked with completing a Codification of existing tribal laws project. This was recently completed.
• A Health Summit was conducted in November by the Health and Family Committee.
• A Language and culture goal was set to find additional funds for language activities, we secured 5 thousand from State DPI/Gaming funds and another 5 thousand from tribal funds to conduct Language summits this FY and Next FY.
Goals carried over from the last year,
• Completing the Forest Management Plan which is complete, but remains at this point subject to an internal BIA (IBIA) appeal as both the Tribe and MTE appealed the decision from the Secretary. This will continue.
• Also carried over was the Grocery store project, which is now completed.
• Another carry over was the Sturgeon Management Plan, The Tribe entered into a plan with the state of Wisconsin-DNR to capture and release 115 adult sturgeon at the ancestral spawning location at Keshena Falls, to date we have released 70 sturgeon the rest will be brought in April, also the DNR agreed to resume allowing the ceremonial sturgeon to be placed into Chickeney creek again, like it once was. The Sturgeon work group with the help of the State DNR continues to reach out to the citizens of the state to educate them about the importance of the sturgeon to Menominee culture and tradition. The Tribe now has 2 seats on the State’s Sturgeon Advisory Committee.
Some HIGHLIGHTS that I want to mention from this last year was definitely the opening of the Cultural Museum and the opening of the Keshena Save-a-lot Grocery store.
• Also I want to mention in May 2011, The Office of the First Lady in conjunction with the Dept. of Interior BIA Assistant Secretary, Larry Echohawk, chose the Menominee Community to launch the "LET’S MOVE! IN INDIAN COUNTRY" campaign.
• In December, a Delegation of Menominee leaders and youth also attended a christening ceremony of the US Navy Vessel USS Menominee (YT-708) in Tacoma Washington. This is the third vessel named in our honor by the Unites States Navy.
• The Tribe entered into an agreement with the State of Wisconsin to assume the duties of Income Maintenance that was previously performed by the Menominee County. Effective November 1, Tribal members now have access to programs such as Food Share, Medicaid and Badger care through our Community Resource Center.
• This year the IGAS (Intergovernmental Affairs specialist), Tasha Caldwell, set forth the Tribe’s Lobbying Plan and made many initial contacts and laid the foundation for many working relationships with State and Federal government officials including Senator Ron Johnsons office, Congressman Reid Ribble, State Senator Jim Holeprin and State Assembly Representative Jeff Mursau; all of which have this past year visited the reservation in person or had their staff attend.
• In August Governor Walker visited our reservation (along with Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe) to meet with area tribal leaders. Governor Walker has met quarterly with Wisconsin Tribal leaders on various issues including IM, Economic Development and most recently Mining.
In addition to making these important contacts the following State and federal initiatives were followed and if appropriate, lobbied for
• Federal budget allocation for Housing, I.H.S, and Fish & Wildlife, Violence in Indian country, Opposition to the changes of the Native 8(A) program, Natural resources protection including protection to the Golden and Bald Eagle. Resolutions were introduced and passed in both the MAST (Midwest alliance of Sovereign tribes) and NCAI (National Congress of American Indians) organizations on the tribe’s Sturgeon reintroduction efforts and opposition to the ECM10 (land survey requirements).
• At the state level, opposition to assembly bill 26 State Mascot issue, Opposition to Wisconsin’s Redistricting Bill, Opposition to state mining Bills, in addition we have held consultations with the state on IM, ICWA, DHS, DCF, Dept of Revenue, and Dept of financial institutions and DNR. In addition to all of this the IGAS has been assisting the MKGA with Lobbying efforts and tasks associated with the Tribe’s application update to the proposed Kenosha gaming facility.
• As you may know, the legislature began this year and dealt with throughout the year, the issue of hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering privileges for our descendants. The January 2011 "No" vote was reversed by a special election held in October. These changes resulted in the amending of Ordinance 99-01 twice. This remains a very divisive issue for our tribe.
• The legislature passed a motion to have a new eagle staff created and also a traveling eagle staff that can be taken to various events, the plan is to acquire enough golden eagle feathers to do a new staff and a traveling staff and then retire this staff to the cultural museum. This will be an ongoing project.
In conclusion let us be thankful to our creator for all that we have been provided this past year, that we move forward in a good way, with respect and honor for each other. Take a look at your neighbor, they may be with us next year, let’s share and learn from one another.
Chairman Randal Chevalier
2012 State of the Nation Address Presentation