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Oneida Nation holds tobacco burning ceremony to heal from shooting

Oneida Nation holds at tobacco burning ceremony to heal from the shooting. May 5, 2021.
Oneida Nation holds at tobacco burning ceremony to heal from the shooting. May 5, 2021.(WBAY)
Published: May. 5, 2021 at 11:17 AM CDT
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ASHWAUBENON, Wis. (WBAY) - Oneida Nation held a healing and blessing ceremony Wednesday outside the casino and Radisson Hotel property where a gunman shot three people.

It was the group’s second tobacco burning ceremony this week hoping this time around it helps employees move forward.

“We wanted to make sure we’re taking a balanced approach to all of our employees and our community as well, making sure we’re taking care of that physical health, that emotional health, and that spiritual health,” Oneida Nation Chairman Tehassi Hill said.

Following the burning, a cleansing took place inside the hotel.

“The ceremony is a responsibility of Oneida people to take care of recovery and the spiritual needs of our community. We appreciate the support, empathy and professionalism that we have experienced from all the media we have encountered during this tragic incident,” reads a statement from the Oneida Nation.

Tribal leaders told Action 2 News they are using long standing traditions and tools to spread a message of healing.

“Our belief in our traditions is that tobacco is a gift that was given to us, and it was more or less, our messenger to the creators land, and to all of creation. In this particular case, this tobacco as we burn it tomorrow, is to send that message of how much encouragement we need,” Artley Skenadore, high school principal of the Oneida Nation School System.

Oneida Nation has planned a community-wide ceremony for Saturday, May 8 at 9 a.m. at the Oneida Pow wow Grounds, located at N7210 Seminary Rd.

Join us.

Posted by Oneida Nation on Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Meanwhile, the investigation continues into Saturday’s shooting at Duck Creek Kitchen + Bar.

The Brown County Sheriff’s Office says a 62-year-old former restaurant employee approached a waiter station and shot and killed 32-year-old Ian J. Simpson and 35-year-old Jacob T. Bartel.

The gunman left the restaurant and shot 28-year-old Dan Mulligan, another employee. Mulligan survived and is being treated at a Milwaukee hospital. CLICK HERE to donate to a GoFundMe for Mulligan’s medical expenses. Mulligan’s updated the GoFundMe Wednesday to say her brother had surgery for a G-tube.

Dan Mulligan
Dan Mulligan(Caitlin Mulligan/GoFundMe)

Green Bay Police shot and killed the gunman in the parking lot. The Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation says three officers involved in the shooting are on administrative leave, which is protocol during police shooting investigations.

Court records show a restraining order and an injunction were recently filed against the gunman, Bruce K. Pofahl.

We found that since the end of February, Pofahl had been cited for harassment, and also had a temporary restraining order filed against him by a woman listing him as a ‘former supervisor’. Since the woman is considered a victim of stalking, Action 2 News is not identifying her.

In the paperwork, the court granted an injunction, saying Pofahl couldn’t have contact with or harass her - but, it did not bar him from possessing guns.

While investigators believe Pofahl was targeting a specific person or people when he started shooting inside the Duck Creek restaurant Saturday night, they won’t say exactly who he was after.

“We are aware of various stories regarding the incident and the behavior history of Mr. Pofahl,” said Steve Ninham, General Manager, Radisson Hotel. “We ask that investigators are given the opportunity to do their jobs as we refrain from comment and speculation, rather focusing on healing at this juncture.”

Ninham added he’s encouraging employees to speak to law enforcement.

“We gain solace from the fact that you understand that our team needs and deserves time to privately grieve and cope from this life changing event,” Ninham said.

Wednesday’s ceremony fell on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Day, which did not go unnoticed among those who attended.

“We really want to make sure that we’re acknowledging a lot of this trauma that happens in all of the communities, and trying to make sure people speak out when they see it or hear it, or feel it themselves,” Chairman Hill said.

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