Lac Courte Oreilles Resort

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Paul Demain, Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Ojibwe:
We’re talking with Gaiashkabos, the former tribal chairman from the Lac Courte Oreilles tribe, he still sits on the council now, and we’re up at The Landing, formerly known as Herman Landing. And Gaiash had quite a bit to do over the years with reacquiring this place for the tribe. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you remember about the history, and we’ll talk a little bit about where it’s at today in a minute.

Gaiashkabos, Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Ojibwe:
Okay, I’d be happy to, Paul. When I was a little boy growing up, I met—and I was born in the 1950s—and I met this old man, his name was…Chris Lee. I think he was an Irishman, I’m not certain what he was—he had red hair, fiery red hair. I remember that. He could speak Ojibwa, that man. And he married this lady down in our village, her name was Slater, and he married her. And they started a little resort right here—it was called The Livery. And this wasn’t flooded back then, this here was a river that came through here. But of course in 1921, 1922 they dammed up this river, the east fork and west fork of the Chippewa River. And they created what we have here today, the Chippewa Flowage. It’s a 15,000 acre body of water. It’s the last pristine body of water in northern Wisconsin. And they had a little resort here. And, in the 30s they sold it, to a Crasinski and it went through that succession. And I’m going to fast forward here into 1999, the tribe purchased this resort right here. It’s about 20-some acres of land. We have a little walking trail back here. And it was just ten cabins, and a little restaurant, and a little bar. And over time—in that short time—it became more focused on the bar. And so when I came back onto the tribal council in 2005, I knew that something had to be done to change this, otherwise. It was deteriorating.

Paul Demain:
The cabins were fairly old by then.

Gaiashkabos:
The cabins were old, and we built four new cabins here. We built this right after we bought it, of course, but the resort was more focused on the party atmosphere rather than the family. And so growing up in the 50s, I danced at “Historyland” which was put on by a gentleman named Tony Wise in this community, and Tony would pay our adult dancers and singers and make great friendships with many of our people and allowed us to use that facility. And he showcased us, really kept our culture alive during that time. And so I remember that. And so I spoke with Becky Taylor, a renowned champion dancer from the Courte Oreilles here. And I said, Becky, we need to do something because we talked about, about saving our culture as much as we can and showcasing it. Not selling our culture, but enhancing our people and the young people and give them a chance to make some money. And they dance here and you can look around and look at the tourists—that this is family oriented. And I knew that we were a success last year, when I came around the corner and I see this place out here just full of boats. And the tourists were dancing, little blond haired children with our Native children, hand in hand, dancing on a round dance. And I said to myself, yah, they might not be dancing to that beat of that drum, but they’re dancing to their own beat, and this is what it’s about. And so this is really—I’m just pleased with what I see here tonight. And I’m glad you’re here, News From Indian Country, mii-gwitch.

Paul Demain:
Thank you. They did some renovations last year to the lodge here. Tell us a little bit what’s inside the lodge—we’ll take a view of that in a minute…

Gaiashkabos:
As I said, when we first purchased, the focus was the bar and not so much on the food. And so we flip-flopped that around: now the bar is not so prominent and it’s a smaller bar that closes at 9 o’clock pm, and the restaurant now is more prominently featured with photos of local history, the muskie fishery here of course—this is where the world record muskie was brought in by Louis Spray right here on the Chippewa Flowage.

Paul Demain:
It’s got a chart of all the muskies over the years, hundreds of them.

Gaiashkabos:
That’s right. And we still display the muskie here. And today it’s pretty much all catch-and-release, but families come here. And we host the biggest family gathering here in the Spring. It’s called Fishing Has No Boundaries, for handicapped fisher-people. And it’s made up of hundreds of volunteers to bring people together. And the Courte Oreilles was the first tribe, and the first sponsor, that gave cash to the organization. And so this is what we do in this community and we’re real proud of it. We want to emphasize our culture here and the themes in the cabins, our wildlife themes, and non-smoking by the way, non-smoking inside the bar, non-smoking inside the cabins, and non-smoking inside the restaurant.

Paul Demain:
Fresh air.

Gaiashkabos:
Fresh air. We’re going green.

Paul Demain:
I understand, someone was saying, they rent pontoons out of here?

Gaiashkabos:
We rent pontoons, we rent boats, we have a little bait shop here, we sell the gas of course to the tourists, and we have Native guides and other guides that guide on this lake and other lakes.

Paul Demain:
If someone wanted to find out information about coming up to The Landing, where would they look to, call the chamber of commerce, the tribe, or?

Gaiashkabos:
We’re on a link on the Hayward Lakes area and we’re also, of course, on our own, we have our own website. It’s called thelanding.com, and you can come in—a virtual tour of the cabins.

Paul Demain:
www.thelanding.com?

Gaiashkabos:
thelanding.com. We also have inside here, we’re hooked up for internet access as well.

Paul Demain:
People like that, it’s a must. Thank you very much, Gaiash.

Gaiashkabos:
Mii-gwitch, you’re welcome.

Courtesy of Indian Country TV (www.IndianCountryTV.com)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkqZKQkvdxM, 2009

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