‘It happens in casinos every single day’: Lincoln Warhorse staff get human trafficking training

LINCOLN, Neb (KLKN) – Warhorse and its parent company, Ho-Chunk Inc., say they’re working to stop human trafficking before it begins.

This week, they held training sessions with over 100 employees who will eventually be working in their new hotels and casinos in Nebraska.

Rachael Johnson, director of government affairs for Ho-Chunk, said they want to work with members of the community to help their staff be better prepared to identify and stop trafficking.

“Because as much as we hate to think that it’s happening here in our communities, unfortunately it is,” she said. “It’s something that impacts a lot of individuals, and especially missing, murdered, and Indigenous individuals, and that’s something we take very seriously.”

One of the experts leading the training was Lynnette Grey Bull, who is also the founder of Not Our Native Daughters, an initiative focused on training and collaborating with communities to prevent trafficking.

“It’s important that tribal casinos and gaming and hotels get this type of training because it happens in casinos every single day, not just here in Nebraska, but nationwide,” she said. “Unfortunately, it’s part of the hospitality industry, and that’s why these types of trainings are imperative.”

SEE ALSO: Lincoln casino staff training to better identify, prevent sex trafficking

Grey Bull said when she started her organization, there was no one focused on helping Indigenous victims of trafficking and abuse. And being Native American herself, she wanted to change that with education for tribal communities.

“I am both Lakota and Northern Arapaho, but the statistics that hang over my head is I am the most stalked, raped, murdered and sexually assaulted out of every woman in this country,” she said.

From 2017 to 2021, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received at least 200 reports of trafficking in Nebraska each year.

Jannette Taylor, president and CEO of the Women’s Center for Advancement, said the organizations works with clients for up to five years on human trafficking cases because it can take so long to get someone out.

“The interstate runs right through the state of Nebraska, so it’s easy for someone to be trafficked in Chicago and taken from Chicago all the way to the west coast on I-80,” she said. “In Omaha, we have the College World Series, we have Berkshire Hathaway, we have all these big events where people from all over come to the city. And trafficking during that time, it just sort of sparks.”

Lindsey Shunkwiler with The Set Me Free Project said when it comes to preventing trafficking, being proactive is important.

“Unfortunately, only 1 to 2% of trafficked individuals are actually ever recovered,” she said. “So being aware of what human trafficking is and what it’s not can help prevent it from happening before it begins.”

Shunkwiler said traffickers will often build relationships and groom people both online and in person, and by the time they realize they’re being trafficked, it’s too late.

“It’s happening in Lincoln, it’s happening in our kids’ schools, it’s happening in our places of business,” she said. “And human trafficking doesn’t discriminate against age; it doesn’t discriminate against gender, race, social status. It can happen to anyone at any time.”

Victims of human trafficking are urged to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.

You can find more information on anti-trafficking efforts in Nebraska at the Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force’s website.

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