Oneida Nation Comes Together to Heal

The Oneida Nation comes together to begin the process of healing with a traditional tobacco ceremony

Washington, D.C. – May 06, 2021 – National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr., joined more than 200 of his Oneida Nation family, friends, tribal and gaming employees, and community members as they gathered to hold an Oneida traditional tobacco healing ceremony at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin, yesterday.

The ceremony signifies the beginning of the first step forward from tragedy towards healing resulting from the tragic shooting on Saturday at the Duck Creek Kitchen and Bar Restaurant.

Stevens, a citizen of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, said, "This was a day of ceremony. It begins our healing process. We stood with one another and walked with one another, and we will heal with one another. We are all one together under all creation, we are united in our core values to stand together in our efforts to continue to build our communities in a manner that leaves our children with a legacy of love, determination, and respect."

Photo courtesy of the Green Bay Press-Gazette
On Monday, a press conference was held where Brown County Sheriff Todd Delain released more information about the tragic shooting, including the names of the fatal shooting victims, who have been identified as Jacob T. Bartel, 35, and Ian J. Simpson, 32, who died at the scene. A third victim, 28-year-old Daniel L. Mulligan, was airlifted to a hospital in the Milwaukee area and remained in a serious but stable condition. Sheriff Brown also confirmed that the shooter Bruce Pofahl, 62, was fatally shot by responding law enforcement agencies at the scene.

The ceremony was powerful yet emotional as shooting victim Jacob Bartel's father Todd and brothers Kevin and Steven joined the Oneida Nation in the traditional healing ceremony to be a part of the tobacco burning to receive condolences and prayers for healing.

"This tragedy drew attention on a national level, and we heard from governors, senators, and so many political leaders across the great Turtle Island. "Stevens said.

He added, "As an Oneida Nation citizen, I commend the outstanding work of the Oneida nation police and surrounding local, county, and state police and first responders, and our gaming professionals who without hesitation handled the chaos and pandemonium and kept the community safe; at the aftermath of the horrific shooting."

He continued, "I also commend the authorities who are diligently investigating all aspects of the shooting to help bring answers to our community. Further, I applaud the outstanding work of our tribal officials and the Oneida Gaming employees who have led with care and strength through this tragic crisis."

Stevens concluded, "Since this horrific event occurred, I have received calls from throughout Indian Country, including tribal governments, gaming entities, regulators, and commissioners, as well as uuall those who have shared a tremendous outpouring of concerns and words of encouragement for our Oneida community. It has been truly heartwarming."