‘We just want to support each other’: Red Cliff Reservation opens warming shelter to all

Boys and Girls Club on Red Cliff Reservation in Bayfield, WI
Boys and Girls Club on Red Cliff Reservation in Bayfield, WI(KBJR)
Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 5:03 PM CST
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BAYFIELD, WI -- The Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa recently opened the reservation’s first warming shelter.

The shelter opened November 19 and is open to everyone, not just tribe members.

According to tribal council member Christopher Hicks, a recent survey indicated 75 of the reservation’s roughly 1,500 residents are currently homeless.

“We actually made a resolution on homelessness because a lack of housing and compact houses is such a problem here right now,” said Hicks.

That resolution will also create a new resource center for individuals in the area to get back on their feet.

Bryon Daly, a tribal administration liaison, says the tribe recognized the problem and wanted to take action.

“We took an idea and said how can we make this happen. It’s one thing to keep talking about stuff, but putting it in action, and implementing it makes it better,” said Daly.

Hicks said homelessness is a problem throughout the Chequamegon Bay area, and communities like Washburn, Ashland, and Bayfield are struggling as well.

Hicks said they wanted to help out by allowing people from off-reservation to stay at their shelter as well.

“We’re not going to deny people a cot,” Hicks said, “We’re a family, the whole bay area’s a family so we just want to support each other, just like they’d support us in our time of need.”

Hicks himself was homeless back in 2019.

“I was homeless for about six months... I was trapped out in Michigan out on the streets, and it was a struggle,” he said.

Hicks said his journey from the streets to Red Cliff’s Tribal Council shows how much proper resources can make a difference in someone’s life.

“With effort, you can turn around, you know, and you can get your life on track so I definitely believe that everyone who comes in here can do the same thing,” he said.

The Red Cliff warming shelter opens at 8:30 p.m. each night, and check in closes around 11 p.m.

The shelter is located at the Boys & Girls Club Of Gitchigami on the Red Cliff Reservation.

It will remain open through the winter months.

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