By GILMAN HALSTED
After a private meeting with Governor Scott Walker Tuesday, the leaders of eight of Wisconsin's eleven tribes say they are united in opposing the Republican version of a new iron ore mining bill.
The meeting at the Ho-Chunk Casino in Baraboo was closed to the media, and Governor Walker was not available for comment after it was over. But Ho-Chunk Tribal President Jon Greendeer says he and other leaders made it clear to the governor they will not support the new mining bill: both because it threatens the environment and undermines tribal sovereignty. “There are some inherent and intrinsic elements of this law that actually do erode tribal sovereignty. It vacates any type of dialog of consultation and if someone were to think this bill was about mining they might be a little misguided, because it's about water, it's about life, it's about generations.”
Greendeer says the tribes are ready to partner with the governor on creating jobs, but not at the expense of the environment. Lac du Flambeau Tribal Chairman Tom Maulson says the tribes will stand firm in opposition to the mining bill and the proposed iron ore mine in Iron and Ashland Counties. But he praised the governor for being willing to talk directly with the tribes about it, “He identified that he'd have an open mind to talk with some of our professional people that deal with mines to tell him how bad mining is, and hopefully we take that up. I mean if he's willing to do that, let's us go to the table and see what we can do. ”
Committees in both the Senate and Assembly take up the mining bill today in Madison. The Republican leadership and the governor have said they hope to pass it soon so that a permitting process for the proposed mine near the town of Mellen can get underway. If it is approved, the Bad River tribe has threatened to challenge the law on constitutional grounds.