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Professor: State Will 'Drive a Wedge' Between Indian Nations Over Casino

Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin

Earlier this week, Governor Scott Walker called for a meeting with the leaders of Wisconsin’s 11 Indian tribes to discuss plans for a Menominee casino in Kenosha.

The plan includes a partnership with Hard Rock International to build an $800 million gaming complex at the site of the former Dairyland Greyhound Park.

The project is strongly opposed by the Potawatomi tribe. It says the project would take away business from its Milwaukee casino.

But UW-Madison professor Patty Loew says the Menominee is one of the most economically challenged tribes and view the casino plan as a means to provide for its people.

"This was a tribe that was improperly terminated in the 1950s and they are still trying to recover from termination," says Loew, author of the book Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal, which is now out in its second edition.

Yesterday, the Menominee released a statement indicating the Oneida Nation had consented to the plan, which requires the governor's approval to move forward. Gov. Walker has said he will not sign off on the Kenosha casino unless all tribes agree.

But Loew says the very idea of trying to get all Wisconsin Indian Nations to agree to the plan is "a very deliberate attempt to drive a wedge between the tribes."

"That wasn't going to happen, and I think everyone knew it wasn't going to happen, and I think it was a very disingenuous path to take," she says.

Loew is an enrolled member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe.