Chairman of Winnebago Tribe quits as council exodus continues

John Blackhawk. Photo from Ho-Chunk Inc / Facebook

John Blackhawk, the longtime chairman of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, resigned on Tuesday as the number of vacancies on the council continued to grow.

Blackhawk first joined the council in 1985 and served as chairman for nearly 20 years. During that time, the tribe emerged as a national leader in economic development as jobs, housing and other opportunities returned to the reservation.

“It’s been the most successful 20 years we’ve had in our modern era," Lance Morgan, a tribal member who serve as chief executive officer of Ho-Chunk Inc., told The Lincoln Journal Star.

But Blackhawk and other leaders came under fire after an audit looked into the spending habits of the council. He was facing a recall after angry tribal members learned about bonuses, cash payments and other expenditures.

“I lost my motivation,” Blackhawk told the Journal Star. “I’m very proud of my service.”

BEFORE THE FALL: The council for 2014-2015 prior to the shakeup. Three leaders have resigned since December -- one was replaced by an election that month while two resigned this March. Another remains suspended and three more are facing ethics hearings. Photo from Winnebago Tribe

Two other council members resigned in March and one remains suspended. That still leaves the tribe with five valid leaders but three of them are facing an ethics hearing next week and could be removed from office.

The council met yesterday to consider how to fill the existing vacancies but no decision was made. “I can’t say what will happen,’’ treasurer Darla LaPointe told The Omaha World-Herald.

Get the Story:
Embattled Winnebago chairman resigns (The Lincoln Journal Star 4/2)
Winnebago tribal council ponders how to fill vacancies; 4 members are out after financial scandal (The Omaha World-Herald 4/2)
John Blackhawk Resigns as Winnebago Tribal Chairman (ABC9 News 4/1)

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Editorial: Winnebago Tribe needs to address spending of leaders (03/09)
Kevin Abourezk: Two more leaders of Winnebago Tribe quit jobs (3/6)
Kevin Abourezk: Leaders of Winnebago Tribe face recall attempt (3/2)

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