State lawmaker walks out during tribal speech - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

State lawmaker walks out during tribal speech

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Madison (WQOW)- Fishing and mining are front and center as lawmakers hear from a tribal leader Tuesday and not everyone liked what they heard.  A Republican from Waukesha walked out of the speech, upset over what was said. 

"We cannot cash in our natural resources for corporate profit," states Gordon Thayer, chairman of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Earlier this year, lawmakers approved new mining regulations which could help pave the way for a huge iron ore mine near a reservation in northern Wisconsin.  Thayer did not mince words about that topic.

"Make no mistake, the 11 tribes of Wisconsin oppose the proposed mine and its permitting process," he says.

The mining company has said the project could produce thousands of jobs not just in mining, but in trucking and housing as well.  The tribes are concerned about another potential impact.

"Our state is endowed with a lot of beautiful water," Thayer points out.  "I heard somebody say last night that you can't even eat the fish out of some of the lakes around here....and so that's a sad time."

Thayer says there's been a lack of communication between the tribes and the state and that needs to change.

"So I ask this distinguished body to consider this offer: When it comes time to make a difficult decision on resources and policies that impact us both, that we agree to meet," Thayer says.  "Sometimes we never agree, but we should never let outsiders make our rules for us."

Chairman Thayer also called on the DNR to stop spreading what he calls ‘propaganda' about spear-fishing.  Last month, the tribes announced they planned to dramatically increase their spear-fishing take in northern Wisconsin.  The DNR then decided to reduce the bag limit for non-tribal anglers to one walleye on almost 200 lakes.

Representative Bill Kramer from Waukesha said Thayer is talking out of both sides of his mouth.  He said Republicans approach the tribes about the new mining law, but said they refused to confer, saying only that they opposed the mine.

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