Welcome to the Website of Lac Courte Oreilles

Bill Trepanier – lco-nsn

Lac Courte Oreilles

Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe

Candidate Statements

We, the Anishinabeg, the people of Odaawaa-Zaaga'iganiing, the Lac Courte Oreilles Band, will sustain our heritage, preserving our past, strengthening our present, and embracing our future. We will defend our inherent sovereign rights and safeguard Mother Earth. We will provide for the educational, health, social welfare, and economic stability of the present and future generations.

Boozhoo! My name is Bill Trepanier, and I am announcing my candidacy for a seat on the tribal governing board. I hope this biography will help you get to know me better and understand my position on issues I feel affect our tribe. My parents are Patrick and Mary Trepanier, both lifelong residents of the area. My grandparents were Walter Trepanier, and Frances Trepanier (Isham). I'm a single father that is striving to make our community safer and more prosperous for current and future generations.

After graduating Hayward High School, I went to college in Stevens Point, WI. At UWSP, I received my bachelor's degree in business administration with an emphasis on project management . I earned my master's degree from the University of Tulsa in the MJIL program (Masters of Jurisprudence in Indian Law). I have received specialized training in judicial studies in my capacity as Magistrate at the LCO Tribal Court.

I started working for Lac Courte Oreilles on the weekends while attending college for the LCO Casino (Sevenwinds) as a warehouse/inventory attendant. I then accepted the position of I.T. support at the Casino and worked in that field for 5 years before I moved to Las Vegas, NV. While in Las Vegas, I worked in the Information Technology field for approximately 5 years before coming back home. After coming home, I started working in the surveillance department at the Casino. I was subsequently promoted to the position of compliance officer for the Gaming Commission and worked there for approximately 7 years, Since my training was in Indian Law, I decided to work for the LCO Tribal Court as the Court Administrator. The sitting judge at the time, Judge Mohr, felt confident to recommend me for the position of Court Magistrate, which I was appointed. I was the vice-president of the WOJB Board of Directors for several years. Most recently, I have been on the LCO Financial Board of Directors.

I have witnessed our tribe grow and achieve greater freedom over the last several years. With these advances and subsequently more money coming into the tribe, it becomes necessary for strong, educated leaders to make decisions and hire the appropriate professionals to lead the tribe in a fiscally responsible manner. With the millions of dollars being brought in from our enterprises, I feel it in imperative that the tribe implement sound fiscal policy. It has become apparent that certain grant opportunities may be at risk due to past financial issues. I think a greater effort should be made to shine light and focus on these issues. I think it is important as a tribe to plan for the future by responsibly investing and creating policies that will ensure success for our future generations.

One of our greatest problems facing our tribe is the drug epidemic that now plagues our community. I have personally seen this scourge decimate families and communities. While no one has a quick solution to these problems, I think progress can be made if our programs can work together and share resources. I have been working in this field for several years with the LCO Healing to Wellness Court. I have received the necessary training to recognize that this problem has many layers and can can seem daunting. Working in the HTWC, I have seen that there are answers in the way of services and programs, many of which we already have in place. There needs to be a concerted effort between all of these services and tribal leaders to educate, and create programs to continue helping those in need. We can continue to combat this problems with education, harm reduction, and policy changes.

"The essence of democracy is finding common ground with people that you do not agree with". This quote is very important to me and should apply at the tribal governing board level. I would like to see our tribal governing board work together to tackle the important issues facing the tribe. As a judicial officer, I have had training to work with others and produce the best possible outcomes. While not everyone agrees on everything, finding common ground can help us get things done here at LCO. As a trained judicial officer, communication skills are one of my strongest attributes, and I feel it necessary that the membership is kept in the loop with meetings. The benefits of an informed membership are too great to ignore.

Our tribal sovereignty is constantly under attack. In my graduate work, I studied these concepts and understand what is at risk. In my work as a court magistrate, I carry on our latest bastion of sovereignty - The Tribal Court. These issues are at the forefront of my mind, and I believe the tribe should be ever vigilant in maintaining our sovereignty so that we can preserve our land and natural resources. Our culture defines us as a tribe and is critical to the wellbeing of our people since it informs us of our sense of self and our place in the world. Our relationship with the natural world and our connection to our ancestors are very important aspects of our culture.

In closing, I feel it necessary to be very attentive to a few large problems so those can be handled with the effort they deserve. All too often , leaders take on too many issues at once and lose sight of the big picture which is the health and prosperity of our tribe. I hope that my education and my experience is an asset to our tribe and that I will be strongly considered as your next tribal governing board member.

Our community is not immune from the inflation that has spread through the country in the last couple of years. In fact, I see it every time I get groceries! While much of the country has tried to offset inflation by giving cost of living increases, here at LCO, it is hard to fix these issues without a clear financial picture. I would like to discuss the pay rate at one of our major enterprises and how I would like to see increased minimum wages so that we can try to retain our workforce.

Let’s start with one of our biggest and most lucrative enterprises; the Sevenwinds Casino. I think it is important to pay these employees a competitive wage. Currently, starting wages for some positions at the local Walmart are reaching $15-16/hour. I think our casino should be competitive so that we can hire and retain a stable workforce. I would like to see an eventual $15/hour minimum wage instituted at the Sevenwinds Casino. Large scale wage increases are difficult to institute across the board in yearly budgets, but I feel some movement in the right direction is necessary. I do realize that there are employees there that are not tribal members, but all of them are working for the benefit of the tribe. Why not pay these people fairly and then maybe we can open our buffet!

Let’s get into the benefits of a stable, well-paid workforce.
  • Improved living standards- A well-paid workforce can afford a better quality of life for themselves and their families, meeting basic needs such as housing, healthcare, education and food.
  • Economic growth- Our community would benefit from higher incomes. The workers would spend more on goods and services (hopefully offered by LCO) which would drive demand and in turn would encourage businesses to grow and expand.
  • Employee motivation and productivity- adequate compensation and job stability encourages employees to remain committed, focused and will eventually lead to better quality work.
  • Lower turnover rates- fair compensation reduces the likelihood of employees seeking better job opportunities, constantly training, and retraining is not only tiresome, it is expensive.
  • Enhanced skills development- if there is a stable, well-paid workforce the employees get much needed training in their positions and tend to invest more in their career growth.
  • Enhanced skills development- if there is a stable, well-paid workforce the employees get much needed training in their positions and tend to invest more in their career growth.
  • Social benefits- a well-paid stable workforce can contribute to a reduction in crime, and poverty rates. This would ultimately lead to less reliance on government programs, opening up spending for other programs like elder care or education for the workforce and our children.
  • Attracting and retaining talent
One of the topics that I thought was important over the last few election cycles is transparency in the tribal government. It is something that I asked about and was assured was a priority. I have yet to see it addressed in any meaningful manner. I want to explore the importance of transparency, and maybe show what I think on this issue.
TLDR (Synopsis) : Overall, transparency in tribal government is essential for creating an accountable, trustworthy, and effective government that can meet the needs of its members.
  • Accountability: Transparency enables tribal members to hold their leaders accountable for their actions. When tribal government activities are transparent, members can access information about how their leaders are making decisions, what their priorities are, and how they are using tribal resources. This transparency creates a level of accountability that is essential for effective and responsible governance. I think now more than ever this point rings true with all the spending currently taking place.
  • Trust: Transparency helps to build trust between tribal members and their leaders. When government activities are conducted in a transparent manner, tribal members can see that their leaders are working in the best interests of the tribe. This trust is crucial for maintaining stability and ensuring that the government can operate effectively.
  • Participation: Transparency also encourages tribal members to participate in their government. When they have access to information about government activities, they can provide input and feedback on decisions that affect the tribe. This participation can lead to better decision-making and ultimately, better outcomes for the tribe.
  • Legitimacy: Transparency gives tribal leaders legitimacy. When they operate in a transparent manner, they can demonstrate that they are acting in the best interests of the tribe and not just in their own self-interest. This legitimacy is essential for maintaining the respect and support of tribal members.
    I would work toward audio and/or video recordings of open meetings which are subsequently catalogued and then archived. Tribal members would then have access to the recordings. This is just a start, and can lead to greater transparency in all areas, including financial.