The annual State of the Tribes Address (SOTA) was held at the Wisconsin Capitol on Tuesday, February 22nd. President Shannon Holsey of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians spoke on a range of issues facing the tribes, including education, healthcare disparities, and election integrity.
Rep. Conroy Greendeer, Jr. was the veteran flag bearer for the presentation of flags and eagle staffs in a procession led by the drum and songs by Jon Greendeer, who stood in for the Milwaukee Indian Community School drum that could not travel due to inclement weather.
Speaking on education, President Holsey admonished the proposed state legislation banning critical race theory and even the mention of Indian tribes. “There must be a willingness to teach a balanced account of U.S. history that incorporates an accurate, comprehensive curriculum in Native American history and culture.”
President Holsey applauded Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes for his leadership with the Governor’s Climate Change Task Force saying, “This is a first step in bold and courageous action.” While showing that tribes are especially concerned that “low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately impacted, bearing the most severe consequences.”
“So today it is important to reaffirm that, in spite of the many determined efforts to extinguish our people―We Are Still Here. Not only that, but the new generation of our young people are now emerging as political actors in global, regional and local debates,” President Holsey says,
“That is why representation truly matters and it so critical to preserve the sanctity of democracy, where diverse groups are included where decisions are made that is why voting is so sacred. Because the future lies in the choices we make today.”
The annual SOTA is usually attended by tribal leaders from all eleven federally recognized tribes in Wisconsin, as well as elected and appointed officials from Wisconsin’s three branches of government. Governor Tony Evers was accompanied by his wife, Kathy Evers.