The leader of one of eleven federally-recognized tribes in Wisconsin has delivered an annual State of the Tribes speech at the Capitol building in Madison.
The tribes are calling for more cooperation on health care, casino revenue, and protecting the environment.
Chuck Quirmbach of station WUWM reports.
Robert Van Zile is chairman of the Sokaogan Chippewa Community.
One thing he told Wisconsin’s governor and about 130 lawmakers is that tribes receive very limited funds from the federal Indian Health Services program.
Van Zile says that makes it tough to hire and keep health care providers.
“Wage pressure and difficulty recruiting medical talent. Rural areas are really hurting and hindering quality care, for patient care.”
Van Zile asks for a change in Wisconsin law that would allow nurse practitioners to work without supervision from physicians.
He also urges the state to help the tribes provide more mental health counseling, and to fight opioid addictions.
On gaming, Van Zile calls for more state regulation and consumer protection related to gambling machines at non-tribal taverns. He also asks for tribes to be able to keep more revenue from their casinos, and share less with the state—allowing tribes to invest in diversifying their economy.
“For our tribes to make strides toward economic self-sustainability, we must diversify our economic engines beyond casino revenue.”
Van Zile also requests that Wisconsin officials let tribes add their expertise to battling contamination from so-called forever chemicals known as PFAS that threaten many fish. He says the pollution may hurt the Wisconsin tradition of Friday night fish frys.
“Might just require a Mr. Yuk sign/sticker to prevent people from poisoning themselves.”
Wisconsin is sitting on growing state budget surplus. But Republicans controlling the legislature have warned that Democratic Governor Tony Evers is proposing too much spending.
How that battle plays out this spring could affect calls for more state-tribal cooperation.
Three Alaska Native mushers were the first to finish the Iditarod on Tuesday, as Rhonda McBride reports from our flagship station KNBA.
Ryan Redington (Inupiat) crossed the burled arch in Nome just after noon. He finished the 1,000-mile sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome in eight days, 21 hours, 12 minutes, and 58 seconds.
Pete Kaiser (Yup’ik) of Bethel came in about an hour and a half later, followed by Richie Diehl (Dena’ina Athabascan) of Aniak.
Another Alaska Native in the race, Mike Williams, Jr. (Yup’ik) of Akiak, is still out on the trail.
His father, Mike Williams, Sr. was in Nome for the finish.
Williams says he’s proud to see not just one, but three Native mushers at the top.
“It’s a joy. It’s something very special. One, two, three. And it says a lot that mushing is still alive in our communities.”
Williams has run the Iditarod 15 times. He says he entered his first race in 1992, because the number of Native mushers was in sharp decline, mainly because they could not afford to compete against a new class of well-financed, professional mushers.
Williams says the traditional use of dogs for hunting and trapping was key to survival and required a mastery of the land in one of the harshest environments on the planet.
He says the Iditarod is a reminder of the culture behind the sport, Williams has also run many Iditarods with Ryan Redington’s grandfather, Joe, who founded the race.
Although many members of the Redington family have competed in the race, Ryan is the first to claim the trophy, which bears the image of his late grandfather.
“He would be very proud, very proud that he accomplished something like this,” Williams said.
Williams says for Joe Redington, it was always a victory just to finish the race. Williams says he feels the same way about his son, who returned to the Iditarod this year, after taking a break from the sport.
Mike Williams, Jr. has been focused on training a team of young dogs and has about 150 miles to go before reaching Nome.
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