ONEIDA NATION, Wis. (WFRV) – Many communities had lowered their flags to half-staff after the passing of former Oneida Nation Chairman Rick Hill.
Hobart, the village that resides within Oneida Nation, did not.
It was a story many in the area had taken notice of and one we here at Local 5 reported on. At the time of the report, the Village of Hobart didn’t have a statement on the matter.
However, on December 20, the village broke their silence.
In a Facebook post, Hobart Village President Rich Heidel says Governor Evers’ request to lower flags to half-staff out of respect for Chairman Hill was a violation of the United States Flag Code:
Although the Village understands and respects the gesture, the Governor’s order is in violation of the United States Flag Code, 42 U.S. § 7. Pursuant to that federal law, a governor may order an American flag to be flown at half-staff only for the death of an official of the state, or for a member of the Armed Forces or a first responder, who is killed in the line of duty.
Village President Heidel says the Governor’s order put them in a difficult position. The Facebook post continued:
The Village’s decision to follow the United States Flag Code, rather than the improper executive order, is based upon the need to adhere to federal law and to reserve the flying of a flag at half-staff to the very unique and limited circumstances stated within that law.
On December 24, Norbert Hill, brother of Chairman Hill, responded to what he refers to as the Village of Hobart’s apology.
Hill says the apology is flimsy and phony. He also calls for a leadership change in Hobart:
The U.S. flag is a powerful symbol which stands for a shared history, pride, and principals. Hanging the flag at half-mast signals respect and mourning for leading citizens. Not hanging the flag in blatant disregard to a Governor’s order reveals a petty refusal to recognize one of Wisconsin’s prominent citizens. This obstinate reaction is childish and hurtful. Not flying the flag at half-mast does not lower the esteem for Rick Hill by one iota. It does diminish the integrity and decency of the Village of Hobart’s leadership by a considerable margin.
Hobart’s flimsy and phony apology does not advance community relations. A leadership change is needed in Hobart.
The Village of Hobart began the Facebook post referred to above by expressing its deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Rick Hill and said they join others in paying him the respect he deserves. The village also said Chairman Hill was an accomplished and respected leader of the Oneida Nation.