The State Of Wisconsin’s Cities, Smoking Rates Among Native Americans, A Story Of Reconciliation After A Police Shooting

Air Date:
Heard On Central Time

Amid tensions between law enforcement and the communities they serve, we hear a story of reconciliation between the head of a police union and the father of a son killed in a police-involved shooting. We also take a look at the rates of smoking among Native Americans, and the state of Wisconsin’s cities.

Featured in this Show

  • New Report Outlines Challenges Facing Wisconsin Municipalities

    A new report from the League of Wisconsin Municipalities and the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance details the challenges facing cities and villages throughout the state. We’ll learn more from LWM Executive Director Jerry Deschane.

  • As Smoking Rates Decrease, Smoking Among Native Americans Has Increased. Why?

    The overall use of traditional cigarettes among U.S. adults continues to decline, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but some discrepancies do remain. While the smoking rate is going down among almost all racial and ethnic groups, it actually increased for one group: Native Americans. The program director for the Wisconsin Native American Tobacco Network discusses what’s behind the numbers, and efforts in the state to bring the smoking rate down.

  • New CDC Research Shows Smoking Rates Decrease For Everyone Except Native Americans

    The overall use of cigarettes among adults in the United States continues to decline, but some discrepancies do remain, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While the smoking rate is going down among almost all racial and ethnic groups, it actually increased for Native Americans.

    The CDC compared the smoking rate from 2002-2005 and 2010-2013, and for Native Americans, it rose from about 37 percent to around 39 percent. The smoking rate for both white and black adults is around 25 percent.

    Clinton Isham, program director for the Wisconsin Native American Tobacco Network, said there have been lot of smoke-free policies being implemented during the time between data collection.

    “A lot of these strategies and interventions simply don’t work for some of these groups,” he said. “And it’s not only Native Americans, it’s also several subgroups that they mention in the CDC report.”

    Isham said his organization is pursuing a coordinated effort within Wisconsin’s 11 tribes to figure out which strategies work best in each community. The answer, he said, lies within tribal sovereignty and agents for change on each reservation.

    “The message of tobacco needs to be taken very differently than we see it taken on a conventional standpoint,” he said. “It’s something that is embedded within history, culture and sovereignty with Wisconsin tribes. So when we’re working in Wisconsin tribes looking at interventions, we need to be mindful of that and respectful of the ideologies of tobacco first and foremost.”

    Those ideologies are vastly different than typical recreational use in the U.S. While most Americans stick a cigarette between their lips, inhale and then quickly throw away the butt, some Native Americans have a tradition of sharing tobacco in a spiritual sense as a sign of peace and understanding.

    “It’s used to give thanks, and it’s used to ask for something far more significant,” Isham said.

    But still, said Isham, many tribal members are smoking commercial cigarettes and the trends discovered in the latest CDC report are concerning. Some health officials believe the barring of tobacco tax increases on reservations has contributed to the divergence in smoking rates.

    Isham also believes tobacco companies target people of color, those of lower socioeconomic status and with less education. That, unfortunately, often means the aim is at Native Americans, said Isham.

    “So they are targeting Native-American communities all around the United States to continue smoking, to continue with a lower tax rate for cigarettes,” he said. “So when I say the answer lies in tribal sovereignty, we really need to look at the leaders who are making these changes.”

    There have been plenty of initiatives making a difference in Wisconsin, Isham said. Last summer, the Ho-Chunk casino in Madison announced it would no longer allow smoking inside. Isham commended tribal leaders for making the switch and hoped others would follow suit.

  • Police Union Head, Father Of A Son Killed By Police Find Common Ground

    Tensions between communities and law enforcement seem to be boiling over in many parts of the country, leading to protests, and in some cases, violence. While big solutions to the problem have proven to be evasive, there’s a growing sense that more needs to be done to get law enforcement and their communities talking with each other, in order to ease tensions and come up with lasting solutions. One example of that suceeding came from the work of two Wisconsin individuals who might be considered unlikely allies: the head of the state’s police union and the father of a man who was fatally shot by police. They share their story, and what other communities could learn from it.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • J. Carlisle Larsen Producer
  • Chris Malina Producer
  • Jerry Deschane Guest
  • Clinton Isham Guest
  • Michael Bell Guest
  • Jim Palmer Guest