Action needed to prove casino vote just about gaming

By Bert Zipperer
March 4, 2004
Capital Times

I have read and heard numerous perspectives on our recent referendum in the past days. Many area residents, newspapers and elected officials maintain that the "no" vote on the Ho-Chunk casino was a clear vote against gambling- and not a vote against the Ho-Chunk.

If that is true and Dane County is really against gambling, the following actions, which speak louder than words, should soon be a reality:

  • Legislation will be proposed to end all promotions for our state lottery, including the dancing cows (and more) in various television commercials, by our local state legislators. While the lottery is currently protected by our constitution, it doesn't need to be promoted on television and it doesn't need to be advertised by Joe Camel's bovine cousins.

  • All taverns in Dane County that have gambling machines will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. These gambling machines are clearly illegal, each and every one of them, and we don't want gambling here in Dane County.

  • Front page news stories boosting another exciting "gazillion-dollar" Powerball drawing tonight will be a thing of the past - and the winners of these jackpots will not be glamorized by local media. Additionally, local newspapers will stop printing the daily winning lottery numbers, so as not to promote gambling.

  • Local officials will dedicate themselves to achieving progressively based, fair taxation to fund all public needs. Voters will refuse to support candidates and elected officials who have not worked for fair taxation, based on the ability of individuals and businesses to pay.

Today we have extensive gambling in Dane County, as well as state-sanctioned promotion of gambling, and we need to oppose all of it if we are to be consistent. Anything less will indicate hypocrisy and lead reasonable people to believe that perhaps the Ho-Chunk were singled out for unusual and negative treatment. Gambling is gambling is gambling, isn't it?

What about city and county relations with the Ho-Chunk Nation? When The Capital Times urged Mayor Dave Cieslewicz to "sit down and talk about how to renew relations" with the Ho-Chunk, what did they have in mind?

Why should the Ho-Chunk trust him now? Certainly the Ho-Chunk people know the child's verse, "Once burned, shame on you; twice burned, shame on me."

What the mayor now initiates will be especially important. May I suggest the following initiatives:

  • Our state capital city has no prominent cultural center for Wisconsin's first peoples. Offer land to construct a major American Indian center in downtown Madison. For example, the city's own Brayton parking lot is a major site, encompassing most of a city block. This would be a fabulous site for either a Ho-Chunk center or a cultural center for all Wisconsin's native nations - next door to the State Capitol.
  • Offer to construct and install Ho-Chunk-designed historical and educational displays in our park lands, in front of various prominent buildings or (in partnership with our school district) at each school in our city. Madison, which was Ho-Chunk land until 1832, needs to prominently note its historical foundations with the Ho-Chunk Nation. Effigy mounds in our city are already testimony from this area's first civilization. Now what shall we do today?

  • Immediately propose the renaming of Lake Monona's "Squaw Bay," since this word is acknowledged as one of the most vile and derogatory words used against American Indian women.

  • Urge all school districts in Dane County to rededicate their efforts to comply with Wisconsin's "Act 31" education requirements. Act 31 directs each school district to "as part of the social studies curriculum, include instruction in the history, culture and tribal sovereignty of the federally recognized American Indian tribes and bands located in this state at least twice in the elementary grades and at least once in the high school grades."

This mandate was put into place 12 years ago. Yet how many students can name the 11 federally recognized native nations in Wisconsin, or share details of each nation's history and culture? How many know what "tribal sovereignty" means in real terms? How many know the number of times the Ho-Chunk Nation has been "removed" from Wisconsin, or what the Ho-Chunk did to assure their continued residence in this, their ancestral homeland?

How many Dane County residents who voted in this referendum know this? And if few do, we need to clearly demand an answer to "why not?" How have our media failed us?

All of us in Dane County need to act now - otherwise reasonable people will be left wondering if the overwhelming vote against the referendum was really only about gambling.


Bert Zipperer, a former Madison alderman, was a candidate for mayor in 2003.




Ho-chunk Eyes Plan B: Growth Around Dejope

Development Got Plan Commission Approval Four Years Ago

Wisconsin State Journal :: FRONT :: A1
Thursday, February 19, 2004
Lesley Rogers Barrett County reporter

The Ho-Chunk Nation might revive plans to develop land around its DeJope Bingo Hall in the wake of Tuesday's casino referendum defeat.

The Black River Falls-based tribe wanted to open a casino at DeJope on Madison's Southeast Side, but voters turned down a referendum by a nearly 2-1 ratio.

Now the tribe is out at least $1 million in campaign costs and still has to come up with a $30 million payment to the state this year under a statewide compact signed last April.

To recoup at least some of the money, Ho-Chunk Nation attorney Michelle Greendeer said, the tribe might move forward with proposals approved four years ago by the Madison Plan Commission. Those plans call for a restaurant, hotel and conference center, retail strip and small amphitheater on the nearly 50 acres owned by the tribe around DeJope.

"We stand by our July 2000 plans," Greendeer said. "The city of Madison can only benefit from our role of tourism."

Last month, other Ho-Chunk officials said those plans were shelved for at least five years.

The majority of the development would be on land that the tribe owns but that doesn't have federal-trust status. Trust land isn't subject to property taxes or city development oversight.

Ho-Chunk attorney Rebecca Weise said the tribe might also continue to look for another casino site in the state, but it will be difficult because a casino must be on trust land.

The tribe has been seeking a fourth casino site for more than 10 years. La Crosse voters defeated a Ho-Chunk casino referendum in 1995 and again in 2000.

Ho-Chunk leaders have said they won't try again in Madison.

The tribe, which has no reservation, has limited trust land, which has been used for casinos in Lake Delton, Nekoosa and Black River Falls, plus the DeJope Bingo Hall, which is built on 4.6 acres of trust land.

It's a long process to attain trust status for more land, so even if a community wanted a Ho-Chunk casino, the tribe would have to acquire land that could be deemed sovereign.

"We'll just keep going with our options now," Weise said.

The compact gives Gov. Jim Doyle the authority to approve a fourth site, but Doyle spokesman Josh Morby said finding a site will be up to the Ho-Chunk and the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.

If DeJope had become a casino, the tribe would have given Madison and Dane County about $3.5 million a year each from DeJope casino profits, which were expected to reach $100 million a year.

Ho-Chunk Legislator John Dall said the tribe will work on making its payment of $30 million to the state this year, despite the lack of DeJope revenues.

"We still have a gaming compact with the state of Wisconsin. That's what we have to throw our focus into now," Dall said. "We don't have to worry about the $7 million anymore. Neither does Dane County or Madison."




Unions blast Cieslewicz

They resent casino criticism

By Judith Davidoff,
The Capital Times
February 21, 2004

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz's campaign against a casino at the DeJope bingo hall in the final weeks before voters shot down the idea Tuesday has left a bitter taste with members of the building trades, who were strong supporters of the casino.

Scott Vaughn, executive director of the Building and Construction Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin, said the mayor refused to meet with him to discuss union support of the casino, showed bad faith in campaigning against the city's agreement with Ho-Chunk, and ignored the fact that the membership of the South Central Federation of Labor endorsed the casino by a 4 to 1 margin.

"We were really disappointed with this attitude toward labor," said Vaughn, whose group represents 14 different unions and about 5,000 members.

Mayoral spokesman Melanie Conklin said she does not remember seeing an appointment request from Vaughn, but was unable to confirm that late Friday. She did say that the mayor is booking appointments into March, but would normally make time for at least a phone interview if someone expressed urgency.

Conklin also said that she doesn't see a link between the mayor's opposition to the casino and either the trades council's diversity program or its attempt to secure good compensation for its members at DeJope.

"The mayor is not just the mayor of organized labor," she said. "He had to take a broad perspective, and when he weighed the benefits and costs of a casino he didn't feel this was good for the city."

Dane County residents voted 2 to 1 against turning the DeJope bingo hall into a casino.

Aside from the Ho-Chunk Nation, the strongest support for the casino came from area unions, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and some social service agencies.

Under the agreements negotiated by Ho-Chunk with the city and county, the city and the county each would have received about $3.5 million annually from casino revenues.

Some of these revenues, at least on the county side, would have been diverted to union members since the county had agreed to reopen union contracts if it received a new revenue source of more than $1 million.

Vaughn said Ho-Chunk had signed a project labor agreement agreeing to pay a minimum level of salary and benefits for future construction work at DeJope.

Santiago Rosas, executive director of the Construction Labor Management Council of Greater Wisconsin, and a City Council member, said his organization and Vaughn's group had also been working hard to recruit Ho-Chunk members into a labor-backed program aimed at increasing the diversity of women and minorities in the trades.

Cieslewicz's stance on the casino read like a snub on both these fronts, Rosas said.

"The mayor really undermined not only the diversity initiatives, but also closed the door" on the union's attempts to secure high paying jobs for their members, he said.

Mark Herrmann, business representative for Local 695 of the Teamsters Union, and president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin, said Cieslewicz's opposition to the agreement he negotiated with Ho-Chunk sent a bad message.

"It's almost like the mayor was saying he was in favor of the money, but not the jobs," Herrmann said.

Vaughn said his door is still open to the mayor if Cieslewicz wishes to engage the building trades.

"He can come back and start working with us tomorrow," he said.

But, said Vaughn, if Cieslewicz continues to ignore the needs of the trades, "it makes it impossible for labor, and not just construction, to support him."




City, Ho-Chunk should partner


By Bert G. Zipperer
(2002 Madison pro-democracy mayoral candidate)
The Capital Times, 2-6-04

Since we have legally allowed Wisconsin to promote gambling (through the state lottery), we cannot deny it to our neighbors, the American Indian nations. It is their right, as members of a sovereign nation, to determine whether or not to pursue a casino.

Putting a casino at DeJope will not promote urban sprawl. The Ho-Chunk own about 45 acres that are "landlocked" by major highways on two sides and city land on the other two sides. This is one of the most limited developments on the edge of Madison, in terms of the land available to the Ho-Chunk.

Our city government and local businesses could partner with the Ho-Chunk in ways that would benefit everyone. Transportation links and joint business promotion should be on the public agenda, rather than the fear campaign about "social costs."

I do not believe the Ho-Chunk casino should be debated on how much financial gain is in it for the city or the county. Let's not assume a casino is an alternative for fair taxation at the local and state levels. We in Wisconsin need to institute fair, progressively based taxation in order to ensure high-quality public services for all Wisconsin residents.

Meanwhile, the Ho-Chunk have the right to make a decision about how to use their sovereign lands.

All of us in Dane County live on former Ho-Chunk lands that were involuntarily surrendered to the United States only 172 years ago - in 1832. Madison is on Ho-Chunk land. The Ho-Chunk are not encroaching on Madison lands.

I am disturbed that we fail to recognize our local Ho-Chunk heritage in Madison. After the casino is approved, perhaps we can learn to live as equals and as partners, benefiting from each other and learning to be good neighbors on this land - the original land of the Ho-Chunk Nation.

Bert Zipperer is a former Madison alderman and mayoral candidate.



Our editorial below is about the Feb. 17, 2004 Madison referendum on the expansion of DeJope Bingo into a casino. A version was printed as "Indian-bashing: A new pastime in 'tolerant" Dane County?" Wisconsin State Journal (Dec. 29)


Links for background:
PRO: Coalition for Fair Indian Gaming and Revenue Sharing Agreements
ANTI: No Dane Casino


New Challenges Loom to Native Sovereignty, Economic Equality

By Zoltan Grossman and Debra McNutt

From coast to coast, the new front� for the movement against Native American sovereignty is renewed opposition to Indian gaming. In New York state, anti-Indian groups have strongly opposed Oneida casinos that fund the tribe's land claims.� In California, Arnold Schwarzenegger used his opposition to Indian gaming compacts as a central plank in his campaign for governor. In Wisconsin, although tribal casinos have been largely accepted in the north, they are being challenged in Madison. Wherever it has surfaced in the country, the opposition to Indian casinos often exhibits a racial double standard, by focusing its efforts on Indian gaming, while ignoring or even supporting non-Indian gaming interests.

Under the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, tribes can have a level of gaming only within the same "class" as the state where it resides. Under this federal law, Wisconsin tribes can have Class III casinos only because the State has a Class III lottery.� But few activist groups or newspaper articles are focusing� on the omnipresent lottery, illegal video poker in taverns, or other�non-Indian gambling institutions.

The message is unmistakably clear: it is fine for the white majority to profit from gaming, but it is somehow scandalous for a minority group to benefit. �Implications of the double standard do not have to be directly stated, just as police do not have to make "racist"� comments when they selectively enforce drug laws along racial lines.

A few "anti-gambling" groups do strongly oppose gambling for moral or economic reasons, and focus consistently on all forms of gaming. But most groups (such as the� Tavern League and the Donald Trump Group) spend no energy or money on opposing non-Indian gambling, but only�challenge Indian casinos. Sincere anti-gambling citizens join such alliances, often unaware that they are allying with non-Indian gambling interests against Indian competitors.

Whites are generally not criticized for gaining wealth from a lucrative industry. Yet somehow, Native Americans are expected to play by different rules, and not to lobby or contribute to politicians as white groups have done for decades. Gov. Schwarzenegger, for example, criticized his election opponents for accepting donations from Indian tribes.� The national anti-Indian network Citizens Equal Rights Alliance (CERA) criticizes our own governor for accepting tribal donations, contending that "Wisconsin's tribes are very happy with new governor James Doyle....the rest of the State of Wisconsin is wondering who owns the new governor?" Anti-gaming rhetoric around the country is marked by remarkably similar hysteria that "the Indians" are taking over�the state's politics or economy.

The face of anti-Indian prejudice has changed since�the treaty rights conflict of the late 1980s. Back then, Indian-bashing was directed against a "poor" minority, using the type of prejudice previously reserved for African Americans. In the 2000s, Indian-bashing is directed against a supposedly "rich" minority, using the type of prejudice previously reserved for Jews.� Like European Jews, Native Americans have developed particular financial industries because they have been denied control over land, and left with other few economic options open to them. And like the myth of the "Rich Jew," the myth of the "Rich Indian" implies that all tribal members are swimming in money.� The truth is that most tribes are heavily in debt, cutting budgets, and still being shaken down by state governments.

In the 1980s, Indians were bashed for being on welfare, now they are being bashed for getting off welfare. The tribes have also reduced welfare caseloads and funded programs for their neighboring communities. Tribes are now the largest employers (of Indians and non-Indians alike)� in at least eight Wisconsin counties, even employing some former anti-treaty protesters. Some Wisconsin communities are learning about the tribal economies, and learning from them. Previously hostile white "border towns" near the reservations (Shawano, Minocqua, Crandon, Hayward, Green Bay, etc.) now recognize the benefits of nearby casinos to their own communities. The reservations used to be dependent on these "border towns," but now the dependency is mutual.

In 1997, when Governor Thompson tried to blackmail the tribes into weakening their treaty rights and environmental regulations in return for gaming compacts, the tribes' Republican neighbors told him they needed the casino jobs and revenue sharing. In 2003, the neighbors of the Mole Lake Chippewa and Forest County Potawatomi were grateful that gaming revenue enabled these tribes to purchase the Crandon mine site, and end the environmental threat to the local tourism industry. This victory was made possible not only by money, but by the cultural resurgence of the tribes, their political sovereignty, and their willingness to work with their neighbors. Yet this positive use of gaming revenue was quickly followed by opposition to a proposed Ho-Chunk casino in Madison.

The Ho-Chunk Nation has also been involved in environmental protection (as in the Perrier and Badger Munitions fights), and for land reclamation and bison restoration. Yet many Wisconsin citizens seem to only think of "Ho-Chunk" as a casino, rather than an ancient culture with a long history of resistance to ethnic cleansing from our state. The forcibly removed Ho-Chunk walked back home,�only to become the poorest group in southern Wisconsin, with substandard housing and medical care. Revenue from three casinos has enabled the Ho-Chunk to finally develop their economy, yet the tribe has born the brunt of ridicule for its efforts.

A hallmark of anti-sovereignty groups around the country is to focus on what a tribe "might" do, rather than what a tribe has stated it will do. (In the case of DeJope, the Ho-Chunk have said that they will not offer an entertainment venue that competes with Madison venues.) Like in the spearfishing� dispute, anti-gaming hysteria in the media can all too easily spill over into Madison schools and affect Native kids.

A Wisconsin citizen can be�critical of gambling, but nonetheless support� the tribes' right to use their sovereignty to strive toward�economic equality.� In response to the renewed conflict between Indian and non-Indian communities, peace and justice activists can support cooperation� that protects the local environment and economy from corporate interests outside our state.

Zoltan Grossman and Debra McNutt are members of the Midwest Treaty Network in Eau Claire: http://www.treatyland.com.�McNutt is a longtime anti-racism and environmental organizer. Grossman is an Assistant Professor of Geography & American Indian Studies at U.W.-Eau Claire.

Zoltan Grossman and Debra McNutt are members of the Midwest Treaty Network in Eau Claire: http://www.treatyland.com McNutt is a longtime anti-racism and environmental organizer. Grossman is an assistant professor of Geography & American Indian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.



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