LAC DU FLAMBEAU - The sounds of heavy machinery churn and cut through the air above the heart of Lac du Flambeau this fall, but Bob Elm hears a different sound in his head.
"I grew up dancing and grew up singing," Elm said.
The Lac du Flambeau Construction company president spent his childhood summers performing in the old Indian Bowl amphitheater decades ago. Now, he's working to build a new arena.
"Watching that facility crumble and become decayed and now we're actually able to build a new facility, I'm very happy, very proud to be a part of this," Elm said.
Crews tore down the 60-year-old Indian Bowl in 2014. The site hosted cultural events, dances, and fireworks shows over the years. In October 2016, Elm's group of four carpenters-- all local workers--put in foundations for bathrooms, concession stands, and the 15,000-square-foot dance area. It's work that, so far, has gone smoothly.
"When it gets to be like 20 below zero, then we'll take some short breaks during that time, no doubt," Elm said with a laugh.
While construction work plugs on, fundraising has hit a bit of a freeze itself.
"We need a couple more million to suffice," said Living Arts and Culture Center Board Member Mildred "Tinker" Schuman.
Schuman says the tribe has raised enough to cover phase one, which costs about $1.6 million.
"That's from their heart when they give," Schuman said of donations and fundraisers. "So, whether it's $100 or less or more, it's all the same."
Adding more buildings, a roof, and a larger seating area will take another $2 million. It's a number Schuman is confident they can reach.
"[This is] something positive on our reservation that we can use here, utilize to give spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional feelings," Schuman said.
No matter what happens with fundraising, construction crews will need to be done with phase one by July 1, 2017.
"Part of performing our job to the utmost, highest we can, that's what we do all the time," Elm said before going back to work. "But being right here in the spotlight, in the middle of town, adds to the spotlight and importance of it."
A grand opening show is scheduled for July 4, 2017. If you'd like to donate, you can send checks to the Living Art Cultural Center at P.O. Box 1061, Lac du Flambeau, WI.
The tribe is also looking for photos and video from past visits to the old Indian Bowl. You can learn more via the link below.
Lac du Flambeau Indian Bowl Project