‘We’re going to keep it going’Matt Ohman, executive director of Siouxland Human Investment Partnership, a nonprofit in Sioux City, Iowa, that LaMere had worked with for nearly a decade, said LaMere was pivotal in bringing together leaders from many nonprofit and government agencies to help improve the lives of Native people in Sioux City.
Among those he built relationships with were Iowa Department of Human Services leaders, whom LaMere had heavily criticized following the deaths of several Native children in non-Native foster homes over 16 years ago.
“There was a lot of anger,” Ohman said about the deaths of the Native children. “It’s a testament to Frank because he used that to really develop a relationship with the Department of Human Services here, and now they are some of the biggest allies to the Native people.”
LaMere’s latest effort involved seeking Indian Health Service funds to build a detox center or halfway house for Native men in Sioux City. He and Ohman had traveled several times to Washington, D.C., to try to convince Congressional leaders, including Rep. Steve King of Iowa, to support efforts to fund the project.
Ohman said language has been included in the Interior appropriations bill now being considered by Congress to provide funding for treatment programs for Native people in Sioux City.
Last Tuesday, Ohman and other representatives from his organization visited with LaMere in his hospital room in Omaha.“His body had been through so much, but he was in good spirits,” he said.
“His biggest concern was, ‘I’ve got so many things going on right now, there’s so much work to do and here I am.’”
“I just assured him, ‘Hey, we’re not going to let the momentum die on any of these things while you’re recuperating. We’re going to keep it going and make sure all of this stuff keeps moving forward.’”
Republished with permission from Indianz.com.