Menominee, Potawatomi Tribes At Odds Interpreting BIA Decision

Jan 12, 2015

The Menominee tribe says its proposal for a Kenosha casino is getting closer to reality, now that the Bureau of Indian Affairs has rejected an amendment between the state and the Forest County Potawatomi. 

But the Potawatomi say the state could still owe the tribe money if the Kenosha casino moves forward.  

The amendment would have put the state and the Menominee tribe on the hook to make up any Potawatomi losses as a result of a new casino in nearby Kenosha. 

Gary Besaw is Chair of the Menominee Kenosha Gaming Authority. 

He says the state has done all that is required, by following an arbitration process required in an earlier compact with the Potawatomi. 

“We believe this rejection lifts the restrictions placed on Governor Walker by the Doyle compact.  Now Governor Walker is free to make the best decision for Wisconsin.” 

Meanwhile the Potawatomi argue the earlier compact still stands and indicates any losses must be made up.  The tribe plans to sue the BIA. 

Potawatomi spokesperson George Ermert says even though the BIA struck down the specifics in the amendment, the earlier gaming compact still stands. 

“That agreement is still in place.  So the risk that the state would have to compensate the Potawatomi is not gone.”

Governor Walker must decide whether to approve the Kenosha casino by February 19th, even though the lawsuit will likely be unresolved.

Menominee legal experts say the BIA has never had a gaming compact decision overturned in court.