2015 State of the Nation Address - Chairwoman Laurie Boivin
Good morning. Thank you all for being here and for the opportunity to address The Annual General Council of the Menominee Nation. The General Council provides us the opportunity to come together, celebrate what we’ve accomplished as a Nation during our recently completed fiscal year and share ideas about how to continue moving our Tribe forward. This year, it’s also an opportunity for many of us to see the beautiful new gaming floor and renovated facilities here at the Menominee Casino. The new facility compliment this convention center that we opened a few years ago and provides our customers a whole new and exciting gaming experience.
As a member of the Menominee Tribal Legislature and this year’s Chairwoman, it has been a tremendous honor to serve the Tribe and work closely with our Tribal programs.
I am extremely proud of the ways that our programs continue to do so much to serve members – even as the federal dollars we have to operate on decrease. This year – our programs focused on collaboration. By working together departments have been able to combine their resources and make a greater impact in providing services. This collaboration has led to combining departments and that work is already saving valuable tribal dollars while improving services to tribal members.
Among some of most noteworthy accomplishments of Tribal Government include the following—
• The Neopit Community took a strong stand against drug activity and the MTL hosted a special community meeting on drug activity there on September 11th. That community initiative has resulted in the formation of focus groups that meet regularly with tribal programs to develop new ways to combat the root causes of substance abuse in our communities.
• The renovation of the Menominee Tribal School that improved school security and provided improved parking and facility access.
• The renovation of the Delores K. Boyd Headstart Center in Keshena that added needed classroom space which allows all classrooms to be housed on the main level and improved the safety of the building for the children who attend the headstart.
• The Tribe has worked hard this year to address concerns of overcrowding and unhealthy conditions at the Tribal Jail. The BIA was on site and met with the Police Department, Administration, members of the Legislature and Tribal Courts to tour the jail and develop a plan forward. In addition to receiving BIA approval to use facility maintenance funding to make necessary repairs, which are in progress – the Tribe applied for and won a grant for nearly $1m to add beds to the jail to ease overcrowding in existing cells. Construction is projected to get underway later this year.
• The expansion of the dental clinic and renovation of the Tribal Clinic which will increase the capacity of patients able to be treated in dental and has added needed space to the pharmacy and other areas of the clinic.
• Our Tribal Departments have begun full participation in the Community Engagement Workgroups that focus on collaboration, resource sharing and an organized approach to planning and tracking our work. These efforts will help us re-design how we deliver services and help us develop an approach to service delivery that helps us address the on-going effects of Historic Trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences that impact community health and school readiness.
• The Tribe has begun to work with the College of Menominee Nation through its digital media classes to develop Public Service Announcements for use in tribal buildings and on our Charter Public Access channel to highlight tribal programs and tribal services. The first PSAs done for the Transit Department are scheduled to begin airing on the Public Access Channel this upcoming week and are an amazing demonstration of the capabilities of our students at CMN.
• The Menominee Youth Culture Camp took place on August 16-21 at Wayka Falls. There were 28 Menominee youth at the camp this year. The main focus or objective is to help Menominee youth learn their identity as Menominee people through Menominee language instruction, traditional Menominee crafts (hand drum making, beadwork, clay molds), Menominee traditional games (lacrosse, Cha ha), AODA and Anti-drug (Synthetic Drugs) prevention presentations, elder speakers, storytelling, and just plain having fun swimming, fishing, and canoeing. Camp participants also had an opportunity to hear archaeologist Larry Mier talk of how our ancestors lived in the past. There was also a family night where parents could come and enjoy a traditional meal with their children and to see traditional crafts that they made, see a Menominee legend or skit they performed and to experience traditional dances at the mini-pow-wow after the meal.
• Improving communication and establishing new channels of communication is important so that Tribal Government is accountable to tribal members. Tribal membership has insisted that the Tribal Legislature work harder to get information out to the membership. To achieve the goal of increasing transparency through information distribution, tribal members are able to view and print Legislative Meeting Packets on a Tribal Member Only website by using enrollment credentials for access.
Not only is our work here at home important, but the relationships we maintain with other governments also helps our membership on the home front. Our Tribe has at times been looked to for innovative ideas and this year was no different.
• Through the Tribal Caucus, our Tribe’s Drug Ordinance, which is being used to combat synthetic drugs epidemic, is being used as a model for other Tribes in the State battling the same.
• The Air & Water Quality Taskforce has been working on a threat assessment report that compiles and identifies Wisconsin threats to air & water quality from metallic and non-metallic mining. Some Regional Tribal Mining organizations, such as GLIFWC have requested the use of this report upon completion.
• Finally, the Tribe has signed onto a 2-year media promotion with Discover Wisconsin Mediaworks to promote tribal sovereignty, culture, and economic activity on the Reservation. Through this partnership, the Tribe will approve all content and production. Look for the 30 minute segment to air in 2016.
On behalf of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and the Menominee Tribal Legislature, I thank you all for being here and for the opportunity to provide this State of the Nation address. There’s so much for us to celebrate and be thankful for, and at the same time so many hopes and opportunities to fulfill.
Thank you everyone for being here today, and thank you for the opportunity to serve you this past year.