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WISCONSIN—The Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council (GLITC) hosted a traditional ground blessing for the new Adolescent Recovery and Wellness Center in Oneida County, Wisconsin on Monday, July 31.

The center will include a 36-bed residential facility supporting Native youth with living a healthy culturally grounded life.. 

“I know this is a time and place where Indigenous people will teach the world how to heal. A project that is long overdue,” Shannon Holsey, President of Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians, said during the ceremony. 

Culture as health is the guiding vision for this project and embedded in all services provided at the facility. The center will prioritize tribal youth admissions, but the facilities services will not be restricted to tribal members.

The facilities design and programs will provide culturally relevant services and treatment for youth ages 13 to 17 who have challenges managing their substance use, or any co-occurring mental health conditions. The facility emphasizes cultural competency, which is necessary to be respectful of and responsive to the health beliefs and practices of diverse populations. The focus is on healing.

The Adolescent Recovery and Wellness Center is also part of the solution to the national opioid crisis, by providing healing to redress past inequities experienced by Indigenous communities. 

“Understanding the opioid crisis that exists not only in the state of Wisconsin but also within our tribal communities is evident each and every day and why we do what we do and why this is so important,” said Holsey. 

Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers, some of his cabinet secretaries, and Wisconsin Tribal leaders attended the event. Evers said that the project has received bi-partisan support going back to former Republican Governor Scott Walker’s 2017 budget. In 2019 Evers and the Republican legislature supported architectural plans, and in 2021 the project was approved for construction. 

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“This has been in the works for years and is something that is really important for youth, and serves in a way that is safe and also helpful in making sure that Indigenous people are productive members within their tribal Nations,” said Evers in a press conference. 

Groundbreaking is scheduled to start in October and tribal officials anticipate the center to become a silver lining for individuals seeking solace and support in the Tomahawk area. 

“Tribal nations within our state work together well, and we believe that it is important for tribal youth to have these opportunities to stay safe and healthy along with everyone else in the State of Wisconsin,” Evers said. 

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Kaili Berg
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Staff Reporter
Kaili Berg (Aleut) is a member of the Alutiiq/Sugpiaq Nation, and a shareholder of Koniag, Inc. She is a staff reporter for Native News Online and Tribal Business News. Berg, who is based in Wisconsin, previously reported for the Ho-Chunk Nation newspaper, Hocak Worak. She went to school originally for nursing, but changed her major after finding her passion in communications at Western Technical College in Lacrosse, Wisconsin.