Proposal Incites Controversy
4:45 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

Federal Approval For Off-Reservation Casino Divides Tribes

The Forest County Potawatomi tribe is condemning another tribe’s proposal for an off reservation casino approved Friday by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs. 

The Menominee have an existing on-reservation in Keshena, WI.
The Menominee have an existing on-reservation in Keshena, WI.
Credit By Royalbroil (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Menominee tribe wants to build a gaming facility in Kenosha.  But Potawatomi Spokesperson George Ermert says the area falls within Potawatomi ceded territory. 

“Potawatomi historical lands have traditionally stretched from the tip of Door County, all along the shores of Lake Michigan.  So for one tribe to go on another tribe’s historical lands is a very very big deal.”

The Potawatomi tribe argues the Menominee don’t have historical ties to the area, and questions 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 Potawatami are calling the BIA’s decision unprecedented on a national level. 

“From a national perspective, to not take into account the historical connection to the land is a big deal, and it’s going to have big implications nationwide.”

The Menominee tribe could not be reached for comment, but tribal officials have told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 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 the criteria is support from Wisconsin’s 11 tribes.