August 29, 2014

Potawatomi push back on Menominee casino

Supporters of a plan by the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin to open an off reservation casino in Kenosha are drawing heated opposition from the Forest County Potawatomi.

Potawatomi Spokesperson George Ermert says the area in question falls within Potawatomi ceded territory, which traditionally stretched from the tip of Door County down the Lake Michigan shore. “For one tribe to go on another tribe’s historical lands is a very, very big deal,” he says. In addition to arguing that the Menominee don’t have historical ties to the area, the Potawatomi question whether the project would create any new jobs.

The Potawatomi operate an off-reservation casino outside of Milwaukee, but Ermert says that casino was constructed at a time when there were far fewer Indian gaming facilities. The Potawatomi are calling the BIA’s decision to green light the Menominee proposal unprecedented. “From a national perspective, to not to into account the historical connections to the land is a big deal, and it’s going to have historical connections nationwide,” says Ermert.

Menominee tribal officials have told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the Potawatomi are the casino’s only source of opposition. Governor Scott Walker has not stated whether he will approve the application, but says one of his criteria for doing so is support from all 11 Wisconsin tribes.

Supporters of the Menominee $800 million proposal to put a casino in the idled Dairyland Greyhound Track have scheduled an 11:00 press conference at the state Capitol in Madison. They’ll be calling on Walker to approve the project, which they claim will create 3,300 new jobs and provide $19 million annually to local governments and schools, while helping one of the state’s poorest tribes to become more self-sufficient.