At the Capitol Tuesday, the annual State of the Tribes address was delivered by former Menominee Tribal chair Gary Besaw. He said the state’s tribes will continue to stand up for Wisconsin’s natural resources.
Besaw told lawmakers that there are still a lot inaccuracies in how Wisconsin’s Native American Indians are portrayed and taught about in schools, calling that “yet another reason why we ask that race-based mascots must be removed from our public schools.”
Besaw also highlighted tribal concerns about resources like wetlands, and the state’s deer herd. “Our treaties, signed for ceding this beautiful land over, allows for certain rights forever, and the lack of an aggressive, common sense prevention and intervention plan regarding stopping CWD, puts our court affirmed treaty rights, as well as Wisconsin tourism and hunting in peril,” he said.
Last month, the Menominee tribe sued the federal government over an open-pit mine, which would be located close to the Menominee River in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Besaw said Wisconsin tribes are disappointed in Wisconsin’s inaction regarding the potential permit, as well as the repeal of Wisconsin’s so-called “mining moratorium” law.
Besaw said Wisconsin’s 11 tribes “are not Luddites,” but are compelled to stand up for the state’s natural resources. “We understand a certain amount of risk might be tolerated in exchange for certain minerals that help society. We get it,” he said. “But we aren’t allowed ethically to put our future babies’ world at high risk. We’re not allowed to.”