BACK THE HO-CHUNK NATION CLAIM AT BADGER MUNITIONS
The future of the Badger Army Ammunition Plant (BAAP) is of great concern to many people in south-central Wisconsin. The 7,400-acre plant has left behind contamination that threatens nearby wells and the Wisconsin River, but the recent closure has also brought new environmental and economic opportunities to Sauk County communities.
The Ho-Chunk Nation, whose villages historically inhabited and used the Sauk Prairie, has made a request to the General Services Administration (GSA) for ownership of 3,050 acres of the BAAP site. The tribe proposes to use 1,500 acres to reintroduce buffalo to the grassland, 1,200 acres for prairie restoration and the protection of cultural resources, and 250 acres of agricultural and prairie land for a joint restoration and resource management research project with state agencies. The tribe does not want to open a casino on the site, and could not under the law even if it wanted to.
In its Land Use Plan, the Ho-Chunk Nation prioritizes "the protection of the cultural, historic, archeological and natural resources...the restoration of prairie, native plants and animals, the restoration, remediation and continued protection of the environment....Land is permanent and stable, a source of spiritual origins and sustaining belief...... Through community operation and integrated land use planning, it is possible to preserve, conserve and protect the natural resources.... .It is possible through a collaborative effort, joint support and mutual assistance to restore the Sauk Prairie (through) the efforts of community, farmers, environmentalists, sportspersons, conservation groups, historians and local and tribal government."
The land occupied by BAAP has special historical significance to the Ho-Chunk Nation and is recognized by historians and anthropologists as part of its aboriginal territory. Ancestors of the Ho-Chunk constructed burial mounds and effigy mounds on the land. The Ho-Chunk inhabited the area until they were forcibly removed westward after signing a treaty in 1837--much as Albanians were "ethnically cleansed" from Kosovo in 1999. Some Ho-Chunk hid out in Wisconsin, and others walked back to their beloved homeland. Today, many Ho-Chunk live in Sauk County, and contribute to the life of the community.
The Ho-Chunk Nation already operates a successful bison restoration project near Muscoda. The presence of buffalo would be a major boon to Sauk County tourism, which already greatly benefits from the presence of eagles. The combination of both eagles and buffalo would certainly boost tourism- related business in local communities, and draw more tourists from around the country and the world. To Europeans and Japanese, for example, buffalo and eagles are poignant symbols of America.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has requested 1,700 acres of the Badger site for use by a current tenant, Dairy Forage Research Center. The DNR is also interested in owning the entire property for park and recreational purposes. (The GSA first considers the USDA and Ho-Chunk requests, because they have been made at the federal level.) In a Memorandum of Understanding, the tribe and state have begun discussions to identify shared objectives. This approach, expanded to both include and empower local government, promises to serve shared objectives for agriculture, ecological restoration, environmental cleanup, and economic development.The Ho-Chunk should be included in any decision in the future of the Badger site; all the land should NOT go to the DNR, for the following reasons:
Many Sauk County residents want the Badger site to remain prairie. One way to meet this goal is to work in partnership with our Ho-Chunk neighbors to protect the land. In the same way that tribal environmental regulations are helping to protect our northern rivers from mining, Ho-Chunk sovereignty could help protect the Badger site, and bring economic side benefits to local communities.
May 27, 1999
Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger
Why are the Badger lands important to the Ho-Chunk people?
As historians and anthropologists have recognized, the Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) people lived in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois long before the arrival of European-Americans. Their aboriginal territory covered several million acres and extended throughout southern Wisconsin, from the eastern banks of the Mississippi River, along the Wisconsin, Black, Rock, Fox and Baraboo Rivers, to Lake Winnebago and Green Bay, including villages located within the present-day Sauk County, and in particular, along the Wisconsin River, near where the Badger Army Ammunition Plant is currently located. For information search in the local library or at the State Historical Society for the Treaties of 1829, 1832 and 1837 between the United States Government and Wisconsin Winnebago.
The land comprising the BAAP clearly lies within the territory that the United States recognized historically held by the Nation. Further, based on a preliminary cultural resource survey conducted by GEO-Marine, a contractor for the United States Army, it appears that the land comprising the BAAP contains at least seventeen potential historic sites, one possible prehistoric site, and at least one or more possible mound groups. There is reason to believe that these lands contain remnants of tribal campsites, villages, mounds and other earthen works. The survey is only a preliminary one and was conducted very recently. The potential historic, prehistoric, and cultural sites within the property have yet to be examined and evaluated by the Nation, the Wisconsin State Historical Society (WSHS) or other agencies and organizations have an interest in the protection and preservation of such sites. A search of the WSHS records reveals 837 effigy and burial mounds were and are located in Sauk County. The BAAP lands are documented as having a high volume of native activity.
Moreover, the Nation wants to ensure that these sites will be preserved and protected for future generations of Nation's youth. The preservation of these sites will be an important tool in the education of children, particularly Indian children, about their rich culture and heritage. Acquisition of this property in trust for the benefit of the Ho-Chunk Nation would provide, promote and enhance the Ho-Chunk Nation9s programs for historic and cultural resource enhancement, education, employment, and economic development.
How much land has the Nation requested?
Why is the Bison Project important?
The Army also currently leases approximately 2,800 acres to private farmers for grazing and for crops. The Nation would consider continuing this practice, with rotational grazing and the development of an agricultural plan to benefit local farmers willing to grow cash crops and feed crops for the bison herd. In addition, as the Nation has done in managing its existing bison herd, the Nation will take the steps necessary to prevent transmittal of disease between bison and cattle through vaccination of the bison herd as well as control over the places where the herd is permitted to graze to prevent such problems from arising.
Bison are essential to the revitalization of Nation's traditional practices and culture. Bison are consistent with the prairie restoration wanted by the area people. It does not conflict with, but complements the land use practices of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources at nearby Devil's Lake State Park. It is also conducive to the reintroduction of other native species such as the greater prairie chicken, elk and native grasses and plants. The Nation will also coordinate its land use plans for the property with the current and nearby land users.
Will there be adverse effects on state or local tax rolls?
Under what authority is this land requested?
Will there be public access to lands the Ho-Chunk may acquire?
In the future, could the Nation use these lands for something
Sources for this Fact Sheet: Ho-Chunk Nation Department of Justice, Ho-Chunk Nation's Revised Request for Transfer of Surplus Real Property and Statement of Land Use Plan for a portion of the Badger Army Ammunition Plant, May 1998.
Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger
June 21, 1999
For more information contact:
Laura Olah, Executive Director, CSWAB, (608) 643-3124
Could Kickapoo be a Model for Badger?
JUNE 28 FORUM TO DISCUSS STATE/HO-CHUNK PARTNERSHIP
SAUK CITY -- Partnership between the State of Wisconsin and the Ho-Chunk Nation has preserved one of Wisconsin�s largest contiguous forests framing the beautiful Kickapoo River in Vernon County; an upcoming forum will explore whether a similar alliance could benefit future use and management of the closing Badger Army Ammunition Plant. The public informational meeting, hosted by Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger, will begin at 7 pm on Monday, June 28, at the Sauk City Public Library.
In 1994, the Kickapoo Reserve Management Board was created to manage the Kickapoo Valley Reserve, encompassing 8,600 acres of forest and once-cleared farmland along 14 miles of the Kickapoo River. As required under federal transfer legislation, the State of Wisconsin and the Ho-Chunk Nation have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) setting the boundaries of the Ho-Chunk�s 1,200 acre parcel and establishing the tribe and the board as co-managers of the entire reserve.
The reserve is managed according to a general plan that emphasizes the protection of natural and cultural resources while allowing for limited recreational activities such as canoeing, hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling. Since May 1998, the Kickapoo Reserve Management Board has marked boundaries and trails, helped fund an outdoor education class for grade school students, and received a grant from the U.S. Forest Service to help pay for the construction of pedestrian bridges across the Kickapoo River.
The Board is also developing a comprehensive master plan that will include plans for the reserve's natural areas, education and recreation opportunities, and finances. According to conditions of the MOU, both the State and the Ho-Chunk Nation are responsible for payments in lieu of taxes to Vernon County and other jurisdictions surrounding the reserve.
Closer to home, the Ho-Chunk Nation has requested a portion of the Badger Army Ammunition Plant (3,050 acres) be transferred in trust predominantly for restoration of prairie and bison habitat. At the same time, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has expressed interest in managing the entire 7,354-acre Badger property as a State Recreation Area.
Anticipating being neighbors, representatives of the Ho-Chunk Nation and the State of Wisconsin signed a Memorandum of Understanding in December of 1998 to establish a general framework for cooperation, consulting, and participation regarding the ultimate disposition of the Badger Army Ammunition Plant.
"Badger is an extraordinary opportunity for all of us to work together as a community," said Laura Olah, Executive Director of CSWAB. "The Kickapoo project is a good example of how such partnerships benefit both the land and the people."
Scheduled panelists include UW-Extension community development specialist Al Anderson, Community Conservation Consultants� director Robert Horwich, PhD, tribal legislator Robert Mudd, and Cecil Garvin, bison project manager for the Ho-Chunk Nation.
Laura Olah, Executive Director
Ho-Chunk scale back Badger request
Sauk County News Service
Sauk Prairie Eagle
The Ho-Chunk Nation has reduced its request for land at the closing Badger Army Ammunition Plant by 50 percent and is now requesting ownership of just 3,050 acres.
According to their May 28 resolution, the Nation has four land use priorities:
Recently, however, the Bureau of Indian Affairs recommended that the Ho-Chunk scale back their request in order to be more likely to get any land at all.
"BIA is asking us to be conservative," said Ho-Chunk environmental resources attorney William Boulware.
Currently, two other agencies are interested in owning land at Badger. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has requested 1,700 acres of land for use by the Dairy Forage Research Center, a current tenant at Badger. The DNR is interested in owning the entire property for park and recreational purposes. However, the GSA will first consider the USDA and Ho-Chunk Nation requests, because they have been made at the federal level.
The public will be able to comment on future land use at Badger through a series of upcoming meetings. The GSA will hold an informational meeting on July 16 at 7 p.m. at the Sauk County West Square Building in Baraboo.
The Sauk County Planning, Zoning and Land Records Committee will hold two public hearings this summer, one on July 28 at 7 p.m. at the Sauk County West Square Building in Baraboo and another on Aug. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Sauk Prairie Community Education Center in Sauk City.
Ho-Chunk Nation wants a reservation at Badger
By Michele Hopp
Sauk County News Service
Baraboo Sun, Sauk Prairie Eagle
The Ho-Chunk Nation has announced it wants to establish a reservation at the Badger Army Ammunition Plant.
Earlier this year, the Nation formally requested ownership of all of the closing plant's 7,354 acres. Since then, many people have wondered what the tribe wants to do with the land.
At a May 26th community meeting sponsored by Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger and the Community Conservation Coalition for the Sauk Prairie, three representatives of the Ho- Chunk Nation unveiled their 2,000-page land use plan.
A reservation featuring housing, job training, economic development, prairie restoration and a bison project topped their list.
Barb Blackdeer Mackenzie, a representative from the Ho-Chunk president's office, explained that the 5,780-member tribe has a great need for reservation lands because they only own "little bits and pieces" of land. In Wisconsin, they own 933 acres of trust land, with 90 acres located in Sauk County.
"We have no reservation land to speak of," she said, but added that the tribe operates out of a 14-county "service area" in northern Wisconsin, with headquarters in Black River Falls.
William Boulware Jr., a Ho-Chunk environmental resources attorney, further outlined the tribe's requests.
First and foremost, the tribe wants to do prairie restoration on about 3,200 acres, most of which would be open to the public. "This will protect cultural and natural resources," he stated.
Boulware said that preliminary Army reports indicate there are at least 21 prehistoric and historic cultural sites at Badger that need to be protected.
The tribe also wants to do a bison project, he explained, using 1,000 of the restored acres for bison reintroduction. Currently, the tribe is raising about 25 head of bison on 100 acres it owns in Muscoda, but more land is needed to increase the herd size.
"Bison are great for rotational grazing because they don't eat plant roots," said Blackdeer Mackenzie. "And there has been no damage to effigy mounds in Muscoda."
The bison project would provide cultural, economic and educational opportunities for the tribe.
Private farmers now lease about 2,800 acres at Badger for grazing and cropping. These agricultural leases could continue under Ho-Chunk ownership, Boulware said, as long as there were no environmental consequences.
Although the tribe's main focus is environmental cleanup and restoration of the plant, they are also interested in commercial development and vocational education. Boulware said they would like to make use of the existing infrastructure.
He explained that the fire station could be used to supplement local fire services and to help with the burning associated with prairie restoration. The power plant and wastewater treatment system could provide service to the Badger property as well as to the Bluffview community and the Town of Sumpter.
Other buildings could be used to provide tribal members with vocational and technical training in areas such as tool and die, wood crafts, and machine shop skills. The hospital could be used to expand the Nation's health care programs and services.
In addition, the acid plant could be reutilized, providing economic opportunities for the tribe. The Ho-Chunk's land-use summary document states: "Based on reports from BAAP officials, this structure would be ideal for producing fertilizer or other substances not necessarily harmful to the environment.
Still, the tribe does not want heavy industry on the site. "The Nation does not envision reindustrialization, i.e. smokestacks," Boulware said.
Housing on the Badger property is also a possibility. "Approximately 1,528 acres of the property include infrastructure necessary to support new housing, in particular water, sewer and power lines and roads," states the land-use summary. The proximity of the land to the Ho-Chunk Casino in the Town of Delton was cited as an important reason to provide housing for tribal members at Badger.
One thing we won't see at Badger, however, is another casino. "The tribe is not planning to build a casino," said Boulware. He explained that any lands put into trust for the tribe after 1988 could not be used for gaming purposes.
Is the Ho-Chunk Nation likely to get the land? It's hard to say, said Boulware, since their request has to be approved by the General Services Administration (GSA), a real estate agency for the federal government. "Generally, no Indian tribe has been successful with GSA," he said.
In fact, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has recommended that the Ho-Chunk scale back their request in order to be more likely to get any land at all.
"BIA is asking us to be conservative," said Boulware. "Maybe two or three owners could do joint management. With a joint venture with the DNR or the USDA, we can request less acreage."
Both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources have expressed interest in owning land at Badger. The USDA has requested 1,700 acres of land for use by the Dairy Forage Research Center. The DNR is interested in owning the entire property for park and recreational purposes. The USDA and Ho-Chunk requests will be considered first, however, since they have been made at the federal level.
Unless special legislation is written, the GSA's final decision will be the last word. And Boulware warned that this decision, expected by the end of this year, could be a bad one.
"GSA said that one of the highest and best uses of the (Badger) land is to break it up. They're inclined to sell off parcels," he said. "GSA is preempting your right to have only one or two owners. Public comment will be critical."
Boulware said the tribe is listening carefully to public opinion. "We are trying to incorporate public views with the tribe's goals," he explained. "We are trying hard not to be adversaries. We're pleased to work with you as community members."
For more information:
Ho-Chunk land-use summary
MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING CONCERNING BADGER ARMY AMMUNITION PLANT
The United States Department of Defense, Department of the Army, through the General Services Administrator declared 7,354 acres of land at the Badger Army Ammunition Plant located in Sauk County, Wisconsin excess.
The purpose of this Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Ho-Chunk Nation, a Federally recognized Indian Tribe, and the State of Wisconsin is to establish a general framework for cooperation, consulting, and participation regarding the ultimate disposition of the Badger Army Ammunition Plant (hereinafter the "BAAP").
By February 15, 1999 the State of Wisconsin and the Ho-Chunk Nation shall begin ongoing discussions regarding cooperative efforts affecting the ultimate use of these BAAP lands. It is with sound resolve that the parties shall work cooperatively to plan the use of natural resources, cultural resources and assets at the BAAP. The Ho-Chunk Nation and the State of Wisconsin anticipate being neighbors, and shall seek to harmoniously work to improve government to government relations.
Please send letters supporting the Ho-Chunk land claim to:
| Dennis Spearman
General Services Administration
230 South Dearborn Street
Chicago, IL 60604
Commissioner Robert (Bob) Peck
Chief Division of Property Management
Department of the Interior
Bureau of Indian Affairs
1849 C Street, N.W. Room 2611
Washington, D.C. 20240
| Congressman Tammy Baldwin
Wisconsin Second Congressional District
Attn: David Stacy, Legislative Assistant
1020 Longworth Bldg
Washington, D.C. 20515
Major General Milton Hunter
General Services Administration
18th & F Streets, N.W., Room 6137
Washington, D.C. 20405
|Courtesy copies to:|
| William Boulware, Jr.
Ho-Chunk Nation Department of Justice
P.O. Box 667
Black River Falls, WI 54615
| Laura Olah, Executive Director
Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger
E12629 Weigand's Bay South
Merrimac, Wisconsin 53561
Phone (608)643-3124 Fax (608)643-0005