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Bad River Repairs Homes, Cleans Pow Wow Grounds

Long-Term Housing Still Uncertain For Tribal Members

Flooding on the Bad River Reservation
Flood waters surround the Bad River reservation in 2016 after a storm dumped as much as 10 inches of rain in a single night. Courtesy of the Bureau of Indian Affairs

The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa was one of the communities hit hardest by flooding from a July storm that soaked northern Wisconsin. Efforts are underway to repair homes and maintain the band’s traditions.

The tribe is working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation on road repairs, especially in heavily impacted rural areas. Forty-six homes were damaged by the flooding, with at least nine destroyed.

Bad River Flood Command Center spokesman Dylan Jennings said people lost more than their homes.

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“They also lost material things that we take for granted every day,” he said. “Everything from picture albums to ceremonial things.”

Jennings said displaced families remain with relatives or at the Bad River tribe’s nearby lodge and casino. Long-term housing plans are still in the works.

This year’s crop of wild rice is still uncertain, Jennings said. But, he said they’re continuing to clean up the pow wow grounds for their annual “manoomin” or wild rice celebration this month.

“We still have to acknowledge that spirit for everything that it has done for us over the years and over the many generations that our people have been in this area,” he said. “A big thing is to give thanks to everybody and everything that has been watching over this community and acknowledging all of the help and assistance we’ve received during this trying time.”

Jennings said the storm has brought the community closer together. Flood damage to northern Wisconsin is estimated at $35 million.