2013 State of the Nation Address - Chairman Craig Corn
Posoh Mawanew We yuk “Greeting Everyone.” I would like to thank you all for coming to the Annual General Council of the Menominee Nation. I want to take a moment and thank our Menominee Veterans, David “Nahwahquaw” Grignon, and the Young Fire Keepers for the opening ceremonies this morning.
I would like begin first by offering sincere congratulations to the victors of the 2013 Legislative General Election. I am pleased to announce the certification by the Tribal Election Commission of the top three winners who will retain and join the ranks of the Menominee Tribal Legislature; Crystal Chapman-Chevalier, Ruth Waupoose, and Incumbent – Lisa S. Waukau. Congratulations and I look forward to working with you all on critical issues affecting the Menominee Nation and its membership in the coming legislative year. A reorganizational meeting will take place on February 9, 2013 to determine who your next Executive Officers will be.
I would also like to recognize the following outgoing legislator’s for their service and commitment to their Tribe and people; Becky Alegria and Bruce Pecore. Throughout your respective terms each of you brought valuable skills, experience, and expertise to the Legislative body. You undertook challenges and brought forward resolutions to critical Tribal issues. I commend your service to this Tribe and your people. Waewaenen.
It has been a remarkable honor for me to serve our Nation as Tribal Chairman and to work with this Legislature, all Tribal Departments, employees and you; the people of the Menominee Nation. We have an extraordinary staff employed by the Tribal Organization; all of whom work for the betterment of the people. As a nation, we are not lacking in the area of intelligence, motivation, and steadfast commitment to the guiding principles and ideals that have sustained our Tribe for centuries. I have personally witnessed many Tribal members step forward bringing their valuable ideas, insights and recommendations to the Legislative forum. Your input is important and I encourage you to maintain your civic participation at all levels.
In March 2012, the Tribal Legislature met to establish the goals for this legislative year. From that meeting the following goals were adopted in addition to the continuation of the Kenosha Project from previous years,
Education – The Tribe developed and continues to work toward meeting the following,
• Resurrect Menominee Reading Council
• Compile a study on testing of Menominee children at Menominee Head Start, Tribal School and MISD
• Impact Aids issue
I am pleased to report that the Tribe is working in collaboration with CMN to resurrect the Menominee Reading Council. The Tribe has also resurrected the Taskforce between the Tribe and the Menominee Indian School District. Our initial goal was to address impact aids, which we continue to do. However, this forum is also being utilized as a vehicle to facilitate discussion on other critical issues concerning our Menominee students.
Economic Development – The Tribe committed to expanding economic development opportunities on the Reservation. As a result of this endeavor, the Tribe and its members witnessed the opening of two new businesses on the Reservation; Family Dollar and Subway. There is one more space available within the Keshena Save-A-Lot complex, which is open for a small business endeavor. I encourage interested Tribal members to contact the Menominee Indian Economic Development Authority regarding this opportunity.
Natural Resources – The Tribe addressed the issues regarding the harvest and sale of ginseng and State proposed Wolf harvest this legislative year.
• With regard to the ginseng issue, the Tribe was approached by the Wisconsin DNR regarding the amount of ginseng harvested on-reservation and sold to dealers within the State. When this occurred the State was unable to use their CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) permit. For those who may not be familiar with this, a CITES is an international agreement between governments whose aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. The Tribe has never had a CITES permit. Because the State lacks jurisdiction within the exterior boundaries of the Reservation, they could not certify the wild ginseng harvested on our Reservation. This prompted the Tribe to explore this issue further. I am pleased to report that as of September 2012, we have our own CITES permit and have begun certifying wild ginseng harvested on the Reservation.
• With regard to the Wisconsin Wolf Harvest – The Tribe engaged and participated with the State DNR and Natural Resource Board to have the exterior boundaries of the Menominee Reservation excluded from the Wolf Harvest. We were successful in this pursuit; the Menominee Reservation is a zero-harvest zone.
Property – Abandoned properties present hazards and pose threats to human life, natural resources, and the environment. This legislative year, the Tribe has taken an aggressive approach to address this community concern by issuing punitive sanctions to violators as well as actively cleaning the problem sites. The Tribe continues to research funding opportunities and programs that may help to alleviate the burdens placed upon the Tribe for clean-up.
Public Defender – The Tribe has committed to establishing a public defender’s office for cases heard within the Tribal Court arena. The Tribe continues to actively seeking funding opportunities to assist with the realization of this goal.
Other critical issues resolved in this last legislative session include,
• Resolution of the Stumpage Lawsuit between the Tribe and MTE; and
• The following PL-638 Contracts were turned over to MTE – Forest Management Plan, Forest Development, and Wild Fire Preparedness. The Tribe has retained authority over the PL-638 Roads Contract.
Throughout this legislative year, the Tribe, the Tribal Legislature, and chartered entities have worked diligently to lobby and bring the Menominee issues and voice to the forefront of National, State, and local attention. I would like to highlight a few events in particular,
• Throughout the year, members of the Executive Team and Kenosha Gaming Authority have continued to aggressively lobby on behalf of the Kenosha Project by meeting with members of the Senate, Congress, Department of Interior-Bureau of Indian Affairs, Wisconsin’s Legislature and Governor’s Cabinet. We continue our relationship with the
leadership of the City of Kenosha, Kenosha County, Wisconsin Tribes, and surrounding counties for support as well as our search for a new Development partner.
• In October 2012, I provided testimony before the Department of Health & Human Services-Office of Head Start on issues concerning our Tribal Head Start program and the need for the continuation of the Head Start Career Advancement Partnership Grant.
• The Tribe has hosted, participated, and formed taskforces with State agencies, such as our current collaboration with Menominee County Human Service Department, Wisconsin Departments of Children & Families, Corrections, and Health Services to address and combat child abuse and neglect.
The Tribe continues to lead the way on critical initiatives, partnerships and community accomplishments. For example, in 2012 the Tribe
• Marked history by becoming the first Tribe in the United States to receive a CITES permit;
• For the first time in 100 years, the Tribe and its members witnessed spawning activity of the Sturgeon at their historical spawning grounds at Keshena Falls; and
• The Menominee BABA won the Championship!
While these are only few instances of many highlights of the Tribe’s accomplishments in the 2012 Legislative year, it is important to note that progress will not stop. The foundations laid this past year will be continued into 2013 along with the vision for more future initiatives that will benefit this Tribe and its membership.
Chairman Craig Corn