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A Message from Phyllis Tousey, BIN’s New Chairwoman

Greeting relatives,
I am honored to be elected Chair of the Brothertown Indian Nation. I pledge to do my very best to address the important issues facing the Tribe at this time including restoration. I want to share a little of my personal background and history and how my previous experiences will benefit the Tribe.

In my family being an Indian was a big deal and something we were always proud of. My Dad, Phil Tousey, went to the Indian Boarding school at Red Springs, near Gresham Wisconsin, when he was 5 years old. I grew up in Beaver Dam, WI and I remember as a kid we would often go “up north” and attend church at the old mission at Red Springs. My Dad and his brothers really rocked that little church. I can still hear them singing.

My Mother was not native but always supported my Dad and his commitment to the Tribe. My parents
got married in Fond du Lac, WI rather than in my mother’s home state of North Carolina because at that
time inter-racial marriage was illegal. Like many other families in our tribe my parents worked on
recognition together, my Mother on various committees and Dad on the Tribal Council as Vice-
Chairman. My parents worked on the historical exhibit that traveled around the state in 1982, as part of
the events celebrating the 150 th anniversary of the Brothertown Indians in Wisconsin. I was working at
Mount Senario College in those days and asked my boss, the college president, Dr. Robert Powless from
Oneida to be one of the speakers at the capital celebration for the Year of the Brothertown.
The re-recognition effort started in 1978 when the federal government established the recognition
process later renamed Federal Acknowledgement and was for me the beginning of my working on the
issue of recognition. During that time I was working in Indian education at the college level. Education
has always been important to the Brothertown people and my experience providing educational
opportunities to Indian students will help strengthen the Tribe’s educational outreach to the public as
well as to tribal members. Promoting the history, culture and contributions of the Brothertown Indians
to the broader community is extremely important.

For many years I was the co-owner of several family Businesses: specifically Car Washes, Fireworks
Sales, retail Swimming Pools and Spas sales and construction. Running a business is a real learning
experience as some of you may have already learned. Financial management is an essential part of the
Tribe’s continued success and impacts future grant opportunities, land acquisition and after restoration
the management of funds coming from the federal government to a federally recognized tribe. I’ve
dealt with many different kinds of financial issues as a program manager, a business owner, and a
partner in an Indian law firm.

I have had a wide range of experiences over the past 25 years involving Indian child welfare cases,
criminal defendants in tribal, state and federal court, Indian tribes and tribal agencies. These
experiences have helped prepare me to be the leader of the Brothertown Indian Nation at this
important time in history. I thank you for support and with your help we will build a stronger Indian
Nation and achieve restoration.


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