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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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The Ho-Chunk Nation Sends Aid To Northern Neighbors
by Gary Garvin - Hocak Worak

"I lost my tent – I was camping when it happened." Greg Dashner said on Monday, July 18 after a series of severe thunderstorms moved through northern Wisconsin resulting in more than $30 million in damages, according to the Wisconsin Emergency Operations Center.

Governor Walker declared a State of Emergency for Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Iron, Price, Sawyer and Washburn counties on Tuesday, July 12, due to flash flooding, power outages and heavy damage to the area's roads and bridges.

Dashner, a resident of the Bad River Indian Reservation, located in Ashland and Iron counties, has received a great amount of help from the surrounding area communities and various neighboring tribal communities.

"After the flood, we (the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa Indians), have been getting a lot of help here from everybody around the community – from brothers like (the Ho-Chunk Nation, Potawatomi and Lac Du Flambeau), they have been coming up quickly for us."

"This is the worst flooding that they've seen in over 50 years from what I understand." said legislator Henning Garvin. Both Legislators Garvin and Greg Blackdeer headed the relief operations that traveled north Monday morning.

"The nation put out a call to Bad River saying 'We are standing by. What do you need as far as assistance? What can we do to help?'" Garvin said. "We also heard, speaking with a lot of different people up there, that the wells are potentially contaminated because of the flooding. So if they want to have any kind of drinking water, they have to boil it until the flood waters can recede and they can start testing all of the wells again to make sure the water is safe. They just don't know so they said they really need drinking water."

With the help of the Ho-Chunk Housing and Maintenance Departments, Garvin and Blackdeer were able to assemble a fleet of trucks and trailers loaded with various supplies donated by local businesses.

"We tried to put together a few pallets (of water) and we are going to pick some more up, up north, and make sure that gets to them. One of the other things that is in need is cleaning supplies, so hopefully we'll have some bottles of bleach that we can bring up and drop off and get that to them as well." Garvin said.

The Ho-Chunk Housing Department donated bleach, paper towels, fans and other cleaning supplies to the relief effort and Whitetail Crossing, Ho-Chunk Gaming Black River Falls and Badger Max donated soap, shampoo, conditioner and pallets of water.

The fleet of trucks and supplies travelled north to Wausau and then to St. Germain to pick up more donations. In Wausau, Garvin and Blackdeer met Lanette Walker and other Wittenberg tribal members who collected donations of water from the Wittenberg TAU, convenience store, youth services, health department and social services.

In St. Germain, Blackdeer was able to contact the Lakeland ATV and St. Germain ATV Clubs who then organized a donation effort with Prime Time, a social security club, and Sentry Foods, a family-owned grocery store. The groups donated a total of four pallets of water, just shy of 1,100 gallons of water.

"I find it tremendous, they're willing to help people that they don't even know, have never met," Blackdeer said. "It makes my heart soar like an eagle."

With a great deal of water and supplies, the relief effort proceeded to the Bad River Indian Reservation in Ashland County. Before reaching the Bad River Indian Reservation, Garvin and Blackdeer were welcomed by the Iron County and Hurley Police Departments which were appreciative of the donations of water they received.

At the Bad River Indian Reservation Garvin and Blackdeer were greeted by Lake Superior Chippewa Indians tribal members that were volunteering at a community building. The volunteers used the building to organize the various items that were being donated and to serve meals to the community. "We have been receiving water, just about everything, food; clothing as you seen. Just about everything that we kind of need. A lot of cleaning supplies," volunteer Greg Dashner stated, "which is good." Over 1,100 gallons of water, numerous cleaning supplies and personal commodities were unloaded into the community building.

Tuesday, July 19 At the Ho-Chunk Nation legislative meeting a resolution for a $25,000 donation to the Bad River Tribal Relief Fund was passed unanimously.

"If you talk to people who deal with disaster management and disaster recovery people on the ground, they know what there is but when you start getting flooded with donations, and it's all with the best intent, sometimes it's just stuff they don't need right then and there. So a lot of people will donate; like all of a sudden winter coats will start coming out of nowhere. And they don't need winter coats right now. That makes them have to warehouse things and put it somewhere and find a place to store it when they could be working on the immediate needs.

"The immediate needs are the water and the bleach, but the monetary donations that have been sent up to the relief fund, they can use that money however they need to use it in order to get relief where it needs to go." Garvin said. "Money donations are the most flexible, they can use that to repair the roads, to buy supplies, and they can use it for what they need."

In a time of great stress, Garvin remains optimistic.

"It's going to be a long recovery effort but it looks like they are moving along as best they can."

Location of the Bad River Reservation in northern Wisconsin (orange-brown shade)
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