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Wisconsin tribal leader calls for action on opioids

MADISON — The leader of the Forest County Potawatomi Community on Tuesday urged Wisconsin policymakers to work together to fight the scourge of opioid abuse that he said was hitting the state’s native populations hard.

Forest County Potawatomi Chairman Ned Daniels Jr., used the annual State of the Tribes speech to call for a “sharp focus” on opioid abuse.

“Our children and grandchildren will remember and thank you for the things you do on this issue today,” he said in the speech given in the Assembly chamber. Gov. Tony Evers, members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, state senators, Attorney General Josh Kaul, state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and others joined with members of the Assembly for the address.

“There is no challenge more complex than that of the opioid epidemic,” he said. “It has no regard for age, race, gender or income. … Opioids are tearing apart our communities.”

In addition to calling for more to be done fighting opioid abuse, Daniels also called for action to protect natural resources, including water quality, and sex trafficking and the negative effects of climate change.

Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) released the following statement after the State of the Tribes address:

“I would like to thank Chairman Daniels for his speech that highlighted our shared challenges, including human trafficking, the opioid epidemic, broadband access and the workforce shortage. He also acknowledged the progress that has been made in many areas. I appreciate that he specifically mentioned the HOPE Agenda and the Speaker’s Task Force on Water Quality. It’s through increased communications and an understanding of our mutual concerns that we can better address the issues together.”

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