The Ho-Chunk Nation Election Board hosted an oath of office ceremony for newly elected Legislator Stephanie Begay on Nov. 20. Begay was declared the winner of the Oct. 26 Special Runoff Election. The Special Election was due to the resignation of Legislator Carly Lincoln.
The Swearing-In Ceremony was originally scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. in the Tribal Office Building near Black River Falls, Wisc. At the request of Begay, the ceremony was pushed up to 9 a.m. so that she and her family could attend the funeral of a beloved family member. The Ho-Chunk Nation Election Board honored her request.
Master of Ceremonies was Matthew Mann, Gordon Thunder offered a word of prayer, and opening remarks were made by Traditional Chief Clayton Winneshiek and President Marlon WhiteEagle.
“I was talking to our Creator this morning, that whatever she (Stephanie Begay) does that it’s good for everybody, all Ho-Chunk,” stated Traditional Chief Clayton Winneshiek. “She has the Nation in her heart, in her mind that whatever she decides on in these voting processes that she looks at the Nation as a whole, not as an area. We have so much of that going on now.”
“One of the things my Dad taught me was that it starts with the love of our people. It starts right there at home and from there and a circle outward that goes to your extended family, out to the community, and it gets bigger,” President Marlon WhiteEagle said. “After a while, it goes out to your neighbors. You think about your neighbors and their safety and wellbeing. It goes to the whole Nation. So, what these votes represent is a level of trust that the community has within you (Stephanie Begay). Remember that.”
Andrew Blackhawk Legion 129 and Auxiliary Post 129 were on hand to post the colors. The Bearheart Singers rendered the appropriate songs. Ho-Chunk Nation Election Board Chairperson Libby Fairchild administered the oath of office.
After the oath of office, Stephanie Begay was allowed to say a few words. She expressed her gratitude to several individuals, her family, her supporters, and those that voted for her. Stephanie Begay is the daughter of Francis and Roberta Decorah and she has two sons.
“Those of you who shared your words of wisdom with me, I appreciate it. I take it to heart,” expressed Stephanie Begay.
Begay has less than two years in office. A term for an elected Legislator is four years but Stephanie Begay will be serving the remainder of Representative Carly Lincoln’s term. According to the official results of the Special Runoff Election, Begay received 140 over Robert Funmaker, Jr.’s 81 total votes.