Marlon WhiteEagle, President, Ho-Chunk Nation

Marlon WhiteEagle, President
Ho-Chunk Nation

Ho-Chunk Gaming, Black River Falls – Black River Falls, WI; Ho-Chunk Gaming, Madison – Madison, WI; Ho-Chunk Gaming, Nekoosa – Nekoosa, WI; Ho-Chunk Gaming, Tomah – Tomah, WI; Ho-Chunk Gaming, Wisconsin Dells – Baraboo, WI; Ho-Chunk Gaming, Wittenberg – Wittenberg, WI

CHALLENGES/REWARDS: I see the challenge of a new presidential administration coming into leadership. There is a lot of turnover during these times. Some good, some bad. In the Ho-Chunk Nation, our president serves dual roles as a political leader on the government side of the house and as a chief executive officer on the enterprise and gaming side of the house.

We, the people of the Ho-Chunk Nation, have been asking our legislative branch to allow a separation of business and government to happen, to no avail. By not complying, our elected official stymies big picture tribal economy. Our business needs to be free to operate like a business and be free from tribal politics.

The rewards I see for the Ho-Chunk Nation this year is new leadership coming into office. The next administration will have an opportunity to make the changes we have asked for. I envision our people rallying to raise their voice against mediocracy.

If we can move closer to separating our business from our government, we have made progress. I believe our people know what they want to see for us in terms of success.

PROMOTING LEADERSHIP: We should be constantly looking to improve our abilities and elevate our business and professional acumen. We have to avoid the tendency to gravitate towards, and try to escape the tribalism mentality. Doing so will help us attract new perspectives, gain positive work culture, and new talent.

More and more, we have built our pool of capable, qualified, and motivated tribal member employees. We have to trust in their abilities and help build their confidence to evolve, lead, and grow.

We offer tribal and veteran preference and educational opportunities to our employees. We hope to foster strong leaders throughout our properties. 

FUTURE PROJECTS/INITIATIVES: We have been approved for off-reservation trust in Beloit, WI. We do not have a reservation proper, or a contiguous tribal land base. However, this nearly 20-year long process is closer to reality.

So much has changed in the 20 years since initial plans were developed. The BIA’s trust process incurs numerous expenses other businesses do not have to deal with. Our Beloit casino project is important, but it should not be at the expense of our other enterprises.

As president, I’ve met with our tribal people and employees at listening sessions and at other events who have said they believe our existing casino facilities should be priority over the allure of a shiny, new casino in Beloit. It serves us best to see our existing casinos capital projects receiving funding, with the end goal of opening a new Beloit casino.