Kenosha Casino: Clash Between Tribes, Part Two

Menominee County, Wisconsin -    A decade of debate over a proposed Kenosha casino has led to a clash between tribes.  But as I discovered during a recent trip to their north woods homeland, it's also brought into focus the ancestral past, present day needs and hopes for the future of the Menominee Indian Tribe and Forest County Potawatomi Community.  "If this project is not approved, it will be devastating for us" said Laurie Boivin, Menominee Tribal Chairperson.   Shane Dixon is Acting Director of Menominee Tribal Housing which has rehabbed dozens of single family homes on the reservation.  He says the supply simply cannot keep up with the growing demand for decent, affordable housing.  "The waiting list is quite extensive.  We just don't have the money to build." 

The Menominee Tribe estimates the casino project will create 10 thousand 600 jobs over the next decade from Kenosha to Keshena.  "The Governor said he wanted to create jobs, we think we can help him with this project," said Menominee Tribal Legislator Gary Besaw.  However, the Forest County Potawatomi Attorney General Jeff Crawford says the gaming market in the midwest is saturated.  "That project is specifically designed to take money out of Milwaukee." 

I asked Besaw if a successful Hard Rock entertainment complex would come at the expense of the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino in Milwaukee.   "If we were just going in as slots in a box, then it may not have been viable.  But because it's a Hard Rock, because it's an entertainment destination center, we believe we're growing the area," Besaw said.

With a February 19th deadline looming for Governor Walker to make a decision, the eyes of both Indian nations are watching, and all of Wisconsin is waiting to see if this clash leads to a consensus, or a litany of lawsuits between longtime tribal neighbors.


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