Oneida Nation photo
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers (second from left) is pictured with his wife Kathy, Oneida Nation Chairman Tehassi tasi Hill, and newly elected Lt. Governor Sara Rodriquez during the Evers’ Administration’s inauguration ceremony in Madison January 3, 2023. This is the second term for Evers and the Oneida Nation is pleased to have a positive working relationship with the governor.
Government Administrative Office
Oneida Nation Chairman Tehassi tasi Hill was on hand in Madison as Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers gave his second inaugural address January 3, 2023, in the state Capitol Rotunda. Lt. Governor Sara Rodriquez was also sworn in along with Attorney General Josh Kaul, Secretary of State Doug La Follette, and Treasurer John Leiber. Chairman Hill attended the inauguration ceremony to show support for the incoming administration, as developing government-to-government relationships is a continuous goal for the Oneida Nation as part of the government’s roles and responsibilities.
The Evers’ Administration has proven to be much easier to build a positive government-to-government relationship with for the Oneida Nation. “The governor’s first term, and one of mine, came at the start of the COVID pandemic,” Chairman Hill said. “Governor Evers has always made himself available, along with his entire cabinet, on issues of health services which were critical in the rollout of the COVID vaccines. The governor was instrumental in ensuring our tribes received those vaccines in the early stages of the pandemic which undoubtedly saved lives.”
Open lines of communication between the tribes and the governor’s office were another hallmark of Evers’ first term. “The governor hosted bi-weekly calls with the tribes for at least the first year of his administration. This ensured Native Nations had direct communication with him on issues of tribal importance which also updated him on how each of our communities were faring during the pandemic.”
Evers proved his willingness to go to bat for Wisconsin’s tribal nations on a number of occasions, even though his proposals didn’t always pass the State Legislature. “During his last Budget Cycle, the governor presented a proposal that would have sent $1 million to each of the state’s tribes,” Hill explained. “This would have been more of a grant disbursement rather than a lengthy application process which would have required cutting through a lot of red tape to acquire. Unfortunately, the State Legislature reduced the total amount from $11 million to $7 million for all of the tribes. Most tribes weren’t thrilled with the legislature’s reduction, but I applaud Governor Evers’ efforts in bringing this budget proposal forward.”
Sports betting was another success the Oneida Nation enjoyed as a result of the Evers’ Administration. “We worked very closely with the governor to get the sports betting amendment into our Gaming Compact,” Hill continued. “This was a very big deal as it was the first amendment made to our compact in several decades. This took a while as COVID was rampant, but we were able to get that deal negotiated with Governor Evers.”
Looking ahead, the Oneida Nation has several proposed budget items they would like to see the governor address in his second term. “One of these items is a request for additional funding for the Department of Justice and the Department of Revenue to combat illegal gaming in Wisconsin,” Hill said. “Another request we’ve made, which again was removed from previous budget proposals by the State Legislature, is funding for schools to change any lingering usage of Native American mascots and imagery to something more appropriate. We’ve requested schools receive about $50,000 each to cover the costs of coming up with a new logo, repainting gymnasium floors, and things of that nature. We feel this is a good incentive to take away any arguments they may have that it’s too costly to change their logo.”