Wisconsin Tribal communities gather to celebrate future recovery and wellness center for teens
Wisconsin tribal leaders, Gov. Tony Evers and several cabinet secretaries attended a ground blessing ceremony in Cassian Monday morning. Star Journal photo
By Eileen Persike
CASSIAN – A ground blessing today in the town of Cassian celebrated the coming together of Wisconsin’s tribal communities and regional partners to create the Adolescent Recovery and Wellness Center. It’s a project nearly two decades in the making, led by the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council. The celebration was held in part to “Imbue the ground with the wisdom of tribal elders” and connect to the healing energy of nature.
“It’s not about sticking that shovel in the ground first and breaking the ground,” said GLITC CEO Brian Bainbridge. “It’s about starting it in a good way so we can heal from this ground.”
Cultural connectivity will remain an integral part of the facility, combining “multiple Tribal wellness themes and harnessing the healing power of nature, fire and water,” according to a facility brochure. The 36-bed residential facility aims to provide culturally relevant services and treatment for Native American youth, ages 13-17, who are suffering from substance use disorder and any co-occurring mental health conditions. It will also be available to non-Native teens.
“It gives my heart happiness to see our flags flown in a place that will not only provide our kids their indigenous journey to healing, but it also reminds our kids and anyone who is fortunate enough to come here that they are supported, loved, seen and valued by all of our tribal nations, said Shannon Holsey, GLITC board of directors president.
Bainbridge said more than 1,000 properties were considered before purchasing the 150 acres in Cassian. Gov. Tony Evers and many of his cabinet secretaries attended the event. Evers said the project has received bi-partisan support going back to former Gov. Scott Walker’s 2017 budget which included $200,000 for a feasibility study. In 2019 Evers and the Republican legislature supported $640,000 for architectural plans and in 2021, $350,000 was approved for construction.
“This facility is needed and will be an incredible benefit not only to tribal nations but to this region and the entire state of Wisconsin,” Evers said following the ceremony. “ [It] will provide culturally competent care that acknowledges experiences and history of native nations and will have a generational impact in native communities throughout Wisconsin and beyond. We desperately need these resources in our communities and I’m grateful to all the partners who have made today happen.”
Bainbridge said the hope is to break ground in the fall, once Oneida County has approved the necessary permits.