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Assemblyman Backs Away from Plan to Withdraw Funding for Indian Cultural Center

Earlier this spring, state Rep. Dean Kaufert said he wanted to withhold a state grant -- earmarked for a cultural center -- from the Lac du Flambeau Chippewa tribe, because the state’s Chippewa bands planned to increase their spearfishing take.

The tribes announced they intended to raise their walleye spearfishing goals by 5,300 fish. As a result, the state Department of Natural Resources said it would have to tighten bag limits for other anglers. The DNR said nearly 200 lakes in northern Wisconsin would have a one-Walleye limit.

Kaufert, a Republican from Neenah, is the vice chairman of the State Building Commission. After the Chippewa announcement, he proposed that the commission rescind the grant. He argued the bag limits would hurt tourism. Now, he has backed away from the proposal, saying a cold spring resulted in low spearfishing totals. He believes the DNR will raise bag limits as a result. Kaufert added that he’s encouraged by a plan Gov. Walker announced Wednesday, to boost the walleye population.

The Lac du Flambeau tribe intends to use the $250,000 grant to help renovate and combine several facilities:

  • The Indian Bowl, an outdoor amphitheater where the tribe holds regular powwows
  • The George W. Brown Jr. Ojibwe Art and Cultural museum
  • The Woodland Indian Art Center

The combined facility would be referred to as the Lac du Flambeau Multicultural Native Arts Center. The tribe says the center will offer exhibitions, art workshops and educational programming, and “leverage the cultural and artistic assets of the community” for increased economic development and tourism.

Ann-Elise Henzl became News Director in September 2017.