Loading

25°F

28°F

26°F

30°F

24°F

28°F

26°F

31°F

24°F

28°F

31°F

26°F
NEWS STORIES

"Our people are hurting": Challenges on Menominee Reservation explain tribe's push for Kenosha casinoSubmitted: 07/21/2014

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer
bmeyer@wjfw.com


KESHENA - Most things on the Menominee Indian Reservation seem to have a waiting list.

The tribal daycare center?

Waiting list.

"We could help more parents if we had the staffing ability," says Department of Early Childhood Services Director Penny Escalante. "Right now, we don't have that staffing ability, so we have 90 people on the waiting list."

The tribal clinic?

Too much waiting, not enough care.

"It would sure be nice to have more resources to work with," says Jerry Waukau, the Tribal Health Administrator.

"We just are one of the poorest of the poor," Laurie Boivin puts it bluntly.

She's the Menominee Tribal Chairwoman.

"We are the oldest indigenous tribe to what is now the state of Wisconsin," Boivin says proudly.

The tribe has been in what's now Wisconsin for around 12,000 years.

But the Menominee have struggled since Congress took action to "terminate", or end the special relationship with, the tribe in 1954.

They got federal recognition back 19 years later, but it has never been the same.

"We have people that we turn away every day that we simply don't have enough money to service," Boivin regrets.

Menominee County has the highest poverty in the state, the worst health, and nearly the worst unemployment.

The tribe's reservation makes up the entire county.

If the tribe simply had a way to make more money, members say, it could alleviate those problems and give members a more stable life.

"We need help. This type of money coming in will help in those ways and a myriad of other ways," says Gary Besaw.

Besaw's talking about the huge amount of revenue the tribe could get from a proposed off-reservation casino in Kenosha.

"With Kenosha, we see this as a godsend as far as employment, jobs, and the boost to the economy," says Besaw, the Menominee Kenosha Gaming Authority Chairman.

The decision of whether that casino will be allowed rests with one person - the Governor.

Governor Walker asked for, and got, an extension until February 19, 2015, to make that decision.

The Forest County Potawatomi strongly oppose the plan.

As part of their opposition, they fear it could hurt the success of their Milwaukee hotel and casino.

But the Menominee feel their concerns are just as pressing.

"We have 145-family waiting list, which doesn't move a whole lot," says Shane Dixon Sr., the Tribal Housing Acting Director.

That waiting list theme is true for housing, too.

"People need immediate housing, and we just don't have it. (We're forced to tell them), we're sorry, we can't help you at this minute," Dixon says.

More money could also help the Menominee improve their worst-in-the-state health ranking.

"We can't give you all of the stuff you want," Waukau says of the care his clinic can give. "We'll give you life-threatening stuff, we'll give you maybe some testing, but it's not everything."

The majority of money for tribal programs now comes from the tribe's small-to-medium-size casino on their reservation in Keshena.

"We don't generate enough income, because we're a rural casino, to meet the tribal needs," says Jim Reiter, the General Manager of the Menominee Casino Resort.

The Menominee are in a tough spot.

It's a tough spot leaders at places like the daycare center, tribal housing, and the clinic think Kenosha casino money could help solve.

"Yes, at the end of the day, it comes down to funding," Boivin says.

"We need the casino," Besaw adds.

"Our people are hurting here," Waukau says. "I think our job as leaders is to take away the hurt."

The Menominee people hope the Governor will side with them.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS

Play Video

EAGLE RIVER - It's a process that sugar harvester Yukon Jack knows and loves. Jack's been harvesting sap for about 20 years.
He makes 30 to 40 gallons of maple syrup a year.

"I used to hate March and April, and when I started making maple syrup, I can't wait for March and April to come," said Jack.

Jack doesn't tap the trees at the same time each year, but instead waits for the right weather conditions.

+ Read More

Play Video

MADISON - More people nationwide use ridesharing smartphone apps like Uber to get around.

Those apps match people who need a ride with certified drivers who use their own cars.

The popularity of the apps has led some Wisconsin lawmakers to propose legislation that creates statewide rules and regulations.

+ Read More

Play Video

VILAS COUNTY - Voters can still cast their absentee ballots in person this week for the upcoming April 7 election. Voters have until 5 p.m. on Friday, April 3 to go to their municipal clerk's office to vote.

+ Read More

Play Video

PRESQUE ISLE - The art of violin making dates back hundreds of years, and Brian Derber is carrying on the tradition. He wanted to go into furniture making, but fell into instrument design after taking a class in college. In 1999, he opened his own school. It's the only violin making school in Wisconsin.

"The program itself is modeled after a German school of violin making," said New World School of Violin Making Owner Brian Derber. "Students have to fulfill a certain requirement before they can apply to graduate. So the minimum time they are with me is three years."

Students start out by making the body of a violin in their first year. As they progress, they add the scroll and varnish, which can take months for students to finish. Nearing the end of their stay, they can even try to make a cello.

"In the time that I have with students in the school here, I can only give them so much, and then it's time for them to go someplace else and get more knowledge," said Derber.

+ Read More

Play Video

MERRILL - The Household Abuse Victims Emergency Network (HAVEN) provides shelter and services for sexual assault and domestic violence victims in Lincoln County.

But more and more, HAVEN is looking for ways to help clients with another issue - addiction.

Since about 2012, the number of clients with addictions has shot up.

Addictions to heroin, meth, and prescription drugs seem to be the most common.

+ Read More

Play Video

MERRILL - Ron Kautz prepares taxes for more than 800 clients every year from his office in Merrill.

This year, he's watching for something new while filling out their returns.

Kautz needs to know if they have health insurance.

This is the first cycle in which the federal government taxes people for not having health insurance.

+ Read More

Play Video

TOMAH - A hearing today will look into complaints that patients at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Tomah received too many narcotic drugs.

A pair of U.S. House and Senate committees will hold a joint field hearing today in Tomah.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 




Click Here