Oneida Nation stresses unity in ceremony following last weekend’s deadly shooting

3 people died and 1 person was injured in the tragic events at the Oneida Casino Complex
Updated: May. 8, 2021 at 6:05 PM CDT
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ONEIDA, Wis. (WBAY) - Saturday morning was a moment where the rich culture of the Oneida Nation was on full display to mourn those who were killed.

The sound of drum sounds serenaded the air and prayers pierced the scene as people were called to uplift each other.

“They always talk about the drum as the heartbeat of the earth,” Dennis Danforth said. He’s a member of Buffalo Creek Singers who played for the crowd.

“We sing in memorial, in memory, of the victims that had lost their lives and then more importantly for the families to heal,” Danforth said.

The overall message at a tobacco burning ceremony where dozens attended was to lean on family, friends, culture, faith and language to heal from last Saturday’s tragic events at the Oneida Casino Complex.

“We’re able to bring everybody together, bring together our minds, so that we can all move forward clear and we can see clearly now,” Oneida Nation Councilwoman Jennifer Webster said.

According to the Brown County Sheriff’s Office, a 62-year-old man shot and killed two employees and injured a third at Duck Creek Kitchen + Bar located inside the Radisson hotel.

Police later killed the gunman who was a former food and beverage manager of the restaurant outside the hotel.

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.

Oneida Nation Chairman Tehassi Hill thanked everyone in the community during Saturday’s pow wow for the support.

After being closed for a few days, Oneida Casino reopened on Wednesday. Chairman Hill acknowledged that some people will need more time to heal from the trauma.

“I think this is gonna be a long process. You know, everybody handles trauma a little bit different and so, we’re just trying to make sure that we have the resources available for the long haul as well,” Hill said.

This was the third tobacco burning ceremony the Oneida Nation has held and at the end a bald eagle flew above the crowd.

“The eagle holds a very significant part to our culture,” Hill said.

Vickie Jicha goes to church with some members of Oneida and took part in the ceremony to show her support.

“The eagle that showed up at the end, you can’t plan that. That was sent from someone so it ‘s all very special,” Jicha said.

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