UW-Madison: Panel to explore fight for tribal sovereignty in Wisconsin
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CONTACT: Steve Kantrowitz, 608-263-1844, firstname.lastname@example.org
MADISON - For most of the last century, the state of Wisconsin ignored the treaty rights of native people that were reserved in the 1800s and earlier. Traditional ways of hunting, fishing and gathering were prevented or discouraged, and tribes' complaints about harassment went unresolved. All of this changed in the 1980s, when U.S. federal courts stepped in to protect and sustain the rights of native people in the ceded territories of Wisconsin.
Or did it? A public panel sponsored by the Center for the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison asks whether the rights of Wisconsin's native people are respected or routinely trampled, and explores how tribes assert sovereignty through grass-roots organizing, organizational alliances, and legal challenges to such contentious proposals as the recently-deferred mining bill and new wolf-hunting legislation.
On Thursday, May 3, faculty members Patty Loew of the Department of Life Sciences Communication, Richard Monette of the Law School, Larry Nesper of the Department of Anthropology, and Rand Valentine of the Department of Linguistics will discuss challenges to the sovereign rights, health, safety and culture of Wisconsin's native people in "Whose Land? The Fight for Tribal Sovereignty and Stewardship in Wisconsin," at 7 p.m. at the Hillel Foundation, 611 Langdon St. This is the final event in the Center for the Humanities' 2011-2012 Humanities NOW series, which brings thoughtful, interdisciplinary examination of current topics through the expertise of UW-Madison faculty.
Loew, an enrolled member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe (the tribe that fought Assembly Bill 426, the so-called "open-pit mining bill"), is the author of "Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal" and other works, as well as an award-winning filmmaker whose documentaries include "No Word for Goodbye," "Nation Within a Nation" and "Way of the Warrior." Loew has called attention to the importance of wild rice, or "manoomin," to native culture, claiming "every battle over land and every treaty ...negotiated was about retaining their rights to care for the water and harvest the wild rice."
Monette is a law school professor and director for the Great Lakes Indian Law Center, as well as a past chairman and chief executive officer of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians in North Dakota. He served as a staff attorney with the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, as the director of the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and is a past president of the National Native American Bar Association. Monette specializes in drafting provisions for constitutions and codes for Indian tribes, and teaches in the areas of torts, water law and federal Indian law.
Nesper is the author of "The Walleye War: The Struggle for Ojibwe Spearfishing and Treaty Rights." He is the co-author of three reports for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission regarding potential cultural effects of the mine proposed by Exxon in Crandon, Wis., in the 1990s and the proposed use of sulfuric acid in the mine works at White Pine in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Nesper also co-authored a report for the Bureau of Land Management and Lac du Flambeau Tribe on a historic off-reservation wild ricing camp. His current research focuses on tribal courts and state-tribal relations.
Valentine is an expert in the Ojibwe language, usually referred to as Chippewa in American treaties. He studies and writes about Ojibwe oral tradition and has served as an expert linguistic witness for several major treaty litigations involving Ojibwe people, such as the 1836 Treaty with the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians in Michigan, and the Treaties of 1855 and 1864 with the Chippewa Indians of Saginaw, Swan Creek and Black River, also in Michigan. He is presently working on cases involving the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Wisconsin and the Chippewas of Nawosh in Ontario.
Gene Purcell, executive director of the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board, will moderate. Purcell has guest-hosted several shows for the Ideas Network's Joy Cardin on this issue. The event is free and open to the public.