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Posted: March 17, 2020

2020 WIEA Conference “Indigenous STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math” Postponed

Conference to be held at future date and time to be determined

The Wisconsin Indian Education Association is closely monitoring the unfolding COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation and aware of numerous emergency travel and work restrictions enacted by employers, as well as tribal, state and federal government agencies in response. Currently, the immediate focus of the organization is the health, safety and well-being of our members, families, tribal nations and all people across Wisconsin. Due to rapidly changing circumstances, the board of directors in conjunction with the WIEA conference planning committee, have announced the postponement of the 2020 WIEA Conference “Indigenous STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math”, which was scheduled for April 16-18, 2020, at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in Milwaukee.

“We’ve been forced to come to the obvious decision to postpone our 2020 conference,” said WIEA board president Brian Jackson. “We initially wanted to proceed with the annual conference in hopes that we would be able to maintain some semblance of normalcy in our day-to-day activities as an organization however, it appears that is no longer an option due to circumstances beyond our control,” added Jackson.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Monday, March 17 directed Department of Health Services Secretary designee Andrea Palm to issue an agency order prohibiting gatherings of 50 people or more statewide to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Notable was Evers’ statement that it is the decision of the tribes, which operate independently and are sovereign nations, whether to abide by the order or not.

Potawatomi Hotel & Casino also announced Monday that it would be closing indefinitely on March 17th.

The board, along with the conference planning committee, will be discussing potential future dates for the conference.

“Our tentative plans include holding the conference and related activities at a later date,” said Brittany LaMere, conference planning committee chairwoman. “We want to ensure the health and safety of all of our conference participants, WIEA conference staff, volunteers and the general public,” continued LaMere.

Conference registrants and vendors will be offered a refund of their registration fee if they choose not to attend the rescheduled conference. Once a future conference date has been set, WIEA will share additional information on the refund process as soon as it is available. WIEA kindly asks participants and those who have already paid their registration fee to remain patient while details of the rescheduled conference are sorted out.

“We hope all of those registered for this year’s conference continue to support the organization by attending the soon-to-be rescheduled conference,” said Jackson. “However, WIEA does understand that some individuals may be unable to attend due to conflicts in scheduling,” added Jackson.

The Wisconsin Indian Education Association will continue to follow the situation surrounding COVID-19 and urges our members and supporters to protect their health and welfare during these challenging times.

“I ask that we all make an extra effort to check in on one-another to ensure our relatives, friends and neighbors are taken care of and have all the things they need to make it through this difficult situation,” said Jackson. “We suggest that everyone follow the recommended safety guidelines handed down from the CDC, as well as state and local public health officials to proactively address any concerns relative to the COVID-19 virus.”

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