Menominee Chair slams school mascot law changes in State of the - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Menominee Chair slams school mascot law changes in State of the Tribes address

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Laurie Boivin has been Chair of the Menominee Nation for less than a week, but she didn't shy away from some tough topics when delivering the annual State of the Tribes address to the legislature Thursday.

After complimenting legislators and the Governor for collaborating with the state's Native American tribes on several issues over the past year, Boivin then scolded them for making it harder to force public schools to change their indian mascots, logos or nicknames.

"Opponents of the new law will tell you that this fair and equitable standard applied for school districts actually promotes discrimination, pupil harassment and stereotyping of our Native American culture and heritage," said Boivin.

The state representative who authored those changes told 27 News he believes its time to move on.

"I think there was satisfaction among people, including Native Americans that contacted my office, and were in support of what we did and realize its a very challenging and difficult issue," said Rep. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater).

Under the old law, a single complaint would trigger an investigation into a race-based nickname, mascot or logo by the Department of Public Instruction.  Now, a person must collect signatures from ten percent of a school district's population and then file a petition.

But another challenging and difficult issue Boivin did not address is her tribes' proposal for an $800 million off-reservation casino in Kenosha, which would be managed by Hard Rock International.

"That's not what we should be talking about, it is the issues of all our tribes, the mutual issues and so, I didn't think it was appropriate," explained Boivin.

But its an issue all of the tribes represented on Thursday are still talking about, as they wait for Governor Scott Walker to reach a decision he originally said he would make by last fall.

"We followed along with the standard that was supposed to be delivered on October 22nd of 2013, and somewhere along the line, well, on October 23rd consensus was off the table.  It is now under a different criteria," said Jon Greendeer, President of the Ho-Chunk Nation, which opposes the Menominee's casino proposal.

The Governor originally said a new casino could not result in any new net gaming increase in Wisconsin and would have to have support from all of Wisconsin's tribes.

Meanwhile, Boivin says the Menominee Nation respects the fact that Governor Walker is doing his due diligence in trying to make the best decision possible.
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