Lac Courte Oreilles News

LCO News Flash: Theft at Lac Courte Oreilles Food Distribution Program

Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board, Dec. 30, 2015: This past weekend a very large amount of food was stolen from the Lac Courte Oreilles Food Distribution Program. This is detrimental to the clients of the Food Distribution Program because this food is no longer available for them.

If anyone has any information regarding this theft, please call the Lac Courte Oreilles Police Department at 715-634-8350, or call Officer Simpson at 715-699-9017. Your call with remain anonymous.

Chairman Mic Isham Condemns Threats to Wisconsin's Environment
by Rick St. Germaine

Chairman Mic Isham welcomed delegates in attendance at the Women's Water Symposium at the LCO Convention Center with a rousing speech that detailed corporate hazards to northern Wisconsin ecosystems.

“The President's veto of the Republican Congressional bill that now blocks the Keystone pipeline from endangering our waters and our lands is a very positive move,” noted Isham, “but we in Wisconsin still have to deal with all of the deadly 800 oil pipeline leaks from the Enbridge pipeline that crosses our state lands.”

The Enbridge oil pipelines cross LCO reservation lands, rushing through 560,000 barrels each day, making billions of dollars of profit for wealthy oilmen while the people who suffer from the frequent spills live in poverty.

Isham also mentioned the temporary reprieve that was gained when G-Tac recently abandoned their open pit iron mining in the Penokee Hills near LCO. Again, corporate interests refused to address the pollution of the northern watershed and air while ignoring the damage to the waters and lands of the region. He cited the contributions of the environmental activists who mobilized the Symposium as protectors of our lands, waters, and air.

The TGB honored Maryellen Baker with a citation and Indian blanket at the start of the Women's Water Symposium. Baker (coordinator of the event) was very moved by the recognition, as Rose Gokee wrapped her in the blanket.

USDA Celebrates Partnership with Native Americans in Wisconsin
$1.3 Million to Improve Housing In Five Tribal Communities Nationwide

LCO Chairman “Mic” Isham and LCO Housing Authority Director Mark Montano accept $289,000 grant from Stan Gruszynski, Director ofthe Wisconsin State USDA Rural Development.

HAYWARD, Wis., Nov. 10, 2015 — U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director, Stan Gruszynski today highlighted USDA's active partnership with Native American tribes in Wisconsin.

“I am proud to highlight USDA's work to support Native American communities,” Gruszynski said. “USDA offers a variety of housing and community facilities programs to help address some of the education and health care needs of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians and for Native Americans elsewhere in the nation.”

Gruszynski visited the campus of the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Tribal Community College in Hayward to tour the Sustainable Agriculture Research Station. In September, the College received a $168,000 USDA Tribal College Initiative Grant to expand the Station. The improvements will provide better post-harvest handling of produce and add a commercial/educational kitchen for community use. The Station trains students and other community members in sustainable agricultural practices that improve access to healthy, nutritious food.

During his visit here today, Gruszynski also met with the Tribal Chairman Michael J. Isham, Jr. and leaders of the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe to discuss the community's needs and their plans to address them. Chairman Isham commented, “The Tribes and USDA are a good example of how a Federal or State agency should work together. Through multiple USDA/Tribal consultations the agency developed a good understanding of tribal issues and priotities. These grants will help meet these priorities.”

Gruszynski notified the Lac Courte Oreilles Housing Authority that USDA is awarding it a $289,000 Mutual Self-Help Housing Technical Assistance grant to help strengthen its capacity to provide affordable housing opportunities. Gruszynski signed a certificate recognizing the Authority's efforts on the community's behalf.

The Housing Authority will use its Mutual Self-Help grant to help tribal members build 10 homes over the next two years. The Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians is the first federally recognized Tribe in Wisconsin to receive a USDA Self-Help grant.

Under the Self-Help program, participants provide at least 65 percent of the construction labor on each other's homes, with technical assistance from the organization overseeing the project. This reduces the total cost of buying a home, allowing many people to own houses that otherwise would have been out of reach. If interested in participating in the program please contact LCO Housing Authority at 715-634-2147.

Nationally four other federally recognized Tribes are receiving funding through USDA's Mutual Self-Help program. The recipients are:

  • New Mexico: Zuni Housing Authority — $279,000 grant to assist 12 low-income families of the Zuni Tribe build homes in McKinley County
  • North Carolina: North Carolina Indian Housing Authority — $204,000 grant to provide technical assistance to the Lumbee and Tuscarora Tribes to build eight homes in Cumberland, Robeson and Hoke counties over two years
  • South Dakota: Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation — $300,000 grant to serve western South Dakota and the Lakota's of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Twelve homes will be built over a two-year period.
  • Washington: Spokane Indian Housing Authority — $292,000 grant to provide technical and supervisory assistance to the Spokane Indian Tribe in Stevens County. Community members plan to build 11 homes.

Funding of each award announced today is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement. Since the start of the Obama Administration, USDA has provided $3.4 million for 13 self-help grants that have helped build nearly 200 homes in tribal communities.

Today's event in Wisconsin is another example of how USDA is celebrating National Native American Heritage Month this November. USDA is proud of its support of Tribal Nations and its work throughout Indian Country and Alaska.

USDA Rural Development's mission is to deliver programs in a way that will support increasing economic opportunity and improve the quality of life of rural residents. As the lead federal agency for rural development needs, USDA Rural Development can help rural communities and regions grow and prosper by offering a variety of financial and technical assistance programs that encourage the development of strong community and economic development strategies.

During this past year, USDA Rural Development's $571 million investment in Wisconsin helped create or retain nearly 1,380 jobs, aided 3,600 families in buying their own homes and assisted more than 50 communities as they made improvements to their facilities, services and infrastructure.

Further information on USDA Rural Development is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting the web site at

UPDATED: The Lac Courte Oreilles Community Unites to Locate Missing Children

The initial response to the call was handled by the LCO Police Department. As the scope of the incident was evolved, a call for support was issued. Responding entities included the LCO Fire Department, the Sawyer County Search and Rescue team, the Sawyer County Sheriff's deputies, the Winter Fire Department, the Wisconsin State Patrol, and the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation.

A door-to-door search was initiated, with all houses and buildings in the vicinity being searched, and a patrol of all roads commenced.

As word spread of the missing girls, volunteers assisted from the surrounding communities. The mother of one of the missing girls was quoted as saying, “I have great hope for the future of our Reservation. So many teenagers and young adults just showed up asking, 'is there anything I can do to help?'.”

As the search continued, an incident command post was setup in New Post to organize the efforts of the agencies and volunteers. Following a preset checklist for search and rescue of missing children, the command center initiated a grid/ground search. Responding agencies and volunteers were spaced 10 feet apart and walked in the dense, wooded areas north and west of the village.

At 4:30 am, the searchers located the girls huddled together and asleep. Following an examination by onsite EMS, the girls were released to their families.

LCO Tribal Chairman, Michael Isham, stated, “I was amazed at how fast these various agencies responded to this incident, and by the professionalism they showed in the face of an increasingly stressful situation. Even more humbling to me, was the large number of volunteers that came to help. We had more than 100 people from LCO and the broader community, who set aside their lives and sacrificed their sleep, to help bring a positive resolution to this incident. On behalf of the people of LCO, Nimii-gwech-iwen-imaag (I thank them all).”

Contact: Sean Fahrlander, Intergovernmental Affairs Specialist, 715-699-2400,
Pronunciations: Nimii-gwech-iwen-maag: ni me – gway ch – I wayne – I mog

Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe Proclaims Ojibwemowin as the Official Language of the Tribe and the Reservation

On Monday, August 24, 2015, the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board established and reaffirmed Ojibwemowin as the official language of the Tribe and the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation.

The resolution passed by the Tribal Governing Board further positions the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe as the center of Ojibwe language, and reaffirms the cultural and lifeway dependence on the utilization of the language.

Lac Courte Oreilles is one of the few Tribes in Wisconsin to take such action, and the Tribal Governing Board's proclamation solidifies Lac Courte Oreilles's commitment to be uniquely positioned to reclaim its educational sovereignty. “The federal government put millions of dollars into getting rid of our language and culture. We continue our efforts to bring our language back and celebrate our culture,” said Michael J. Isham, Jr., Tribal Chairman of the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe.

The Tribal Governing Board's proclamation also resolved to facilitate language learning and consistency by adopting the double-vowel orthography system in spelling, and directed all agencies and institutions to follow. The Tribe will develop and coordinate efforts to revitalize Ojibwemowin as the language of politics, commerce, education and community development, in addition to its use as the ceremonial language.

The Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Immersion School, which is an indigenous language medium educational track of the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School and has produced more than 70 speakers fluent in Ojibwemowin, currently offers weekly Language Tables. For more information on Waadookodaading, visit

Contact: Sean Fahrlander, Intergovernmental Affairs Specialist, 715-699-2400,
Pronunciations: Ojibwemowin: O-jib-way-mow-in; Waadookodaading: Wah-dew-coh-dah-ding

Updated: ICDBG Mold Remediation/Prevention and Education Grant

On September 21st the Tribe, on behalf of the Housing Authority, received a grant to begin addressing the mold issues plaguing our housing units. The grant will begin to assist Housing with addressing mold issues by providing remediation and preventative construction work on approximately 53 homes. There certainly exists more homes that need work but it is the intent of this grant to address the most severely documented mold conditions. We are preparing to begin the work but there are many steps that need to be taken first. We want to ensure that the money we are receiving is spent in the most efficient way possible and that the work is performed in a manner that will provide the best approach while being cost effective and have a lasting impact on the homes. The following is a short list of steps along with approximate timelines for each stage prior to actual work being performed

• Finalize and submit required grant documents 30 days
• Solicit and Procure Architectural & Engineering 30 to 60 days
• Develop plans and specifications on work to be performed 30 to 90 days
• Solicit, accept and award contracts for work to be performed 30 to 45 days

Work begins on homes (the time it will take is estimated to be 12 months but will be finalized after steps 3 and 4 are completed). Based on the above timelines it is expected that work on the homes will not begin until January or February of 2016. The Housing Authority will be implementing procedures to ensure LCO Tribal Members will be afforded employment opportunities to the maximum extent possible. In addition, we are anticipating that the selected contractor(s) will be required to conduct a job fair to provide an opportunity for Tribal Members to show their interest in being employed.

We look forward to addressing the mold issues and will be reporting on the progress of the project in the coming months. It is also encouraged that interested people watch for public postings regarding contract work or employment opportunities, all of which will be occurring in the very near future.


Sept. 21, 2015 — A check was presented to LCO Band of Lake Superior Chippewa on Monday, September 21st by Dale Darrow, Wisconsin Field Office Director, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, to support mold remediation in housing owned or operated by LCO.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that nationally HUD is awarding $12.4 million to 18 tribal communities in 13 states to remove and prevent dangerous mold in more than 1,000 homes. That includes an $800,000 award to the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. This is the larges amount awarded by HUD to date for this purpose. The grants are being made available through HUD's Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) program, which addresses a wide variety of community development and affordable housing activities. These grants will support mold remediation in housing owned or operated by tribes, tribally designated housing entities, or tribal organizations, with priority given to units with the most evidence of mold. The funds will be used to address moisture issues by using construction materials and techniques known to resist mold, and ensure that staff or contractors use safe practices for identifying and remediationg mold. They will also educate residents on ways to prevent mold from reoccurring in the future.

HUD Secretary, Julian Castro has made it a priority to connect with and help empower Native American communities, and strongly supports tribal self-determination and self governance, reflecting a strong commitment to improving tribal governments' capacity for controlling their own futures. In Fiscal Year 2015 HUD received approximately $732 million to fund programs to support housing and community development initatives in American Indian, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian communities. The Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG), the largest program under the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act (NAHASDA), provides Tribes with flexibility to identify and address a wide variety of community development and affordable housing activities. The IHBG has infused almost $11.4 billion to support a range of affordable housing and community development activities in tribal communities over the past 18 years. Through 2014, IHBG recipients have built or acquired almost 37,000 affordable housing units in Indian Country, and substantially rehabilitated almost 72,000 units over the life of the program. This February HUD announced a total of more than $651 million in Indian Housing Block Grants (IHBG) to 636 Native American tribes in 34 states throughout the country. Of that, nearly $20.5 million went to 11 Native American tribes in Wisconsin including over $2.7 million to the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin.

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Badgers(previously unreleased) at the 2015 Lac Courte Oreilles Homecoming Celebration & Powwow.

Posted by Lonnie Barber on Tuesday, October 20, 2015

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