Wisconsin must do more to honor native tribes, speaker says in State of the Tribes address The Badger Herald


In the State of the Tribes Address, the Chairman of the Mohican Indian Band of Stockbridge-Munsee addressed the Wisconsin Legislature on how they could better honor Native American culture, preserve the environment and protect democracy.

Wisconsin can do this by teaching more Native American history in school and working with Native Americans to preserve the environment and protect democracy, Stockbridge-Munsee President Shannon Holsey said.

“[The state of the tribes address] is an opportunity to examine the current state of our union and how we can collectively forge a better nation by examining ourselves and moving forward through the triumphs, tragedies of violence and inequalities involved in the evolution continues to forge a better union, educational foundation, environment, and healthy mindset,” Holsey said in a Wisconsin Examiner article.

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Indigenous tribes have contributed so much to the state of Wisconsin, Holsey said. They served in the military at high capacity and responded to the pandemic by caring for every member of their community, Holsey said.

The United States denied Native Americans the right to vote until 1924. Recent bills Republicans in Wisconsin have proposed to make it harder to vote are a continuation of that legacy, Holsey said.

“Legislation taking away the right to vote purports to be neutral,” Holsey said in the Wisconsin Examiner article. “However, in many cases it undermines the fundamental right to participate in our democracy. The loss of the right to vote is the loss of voice in the democratic process.

Wisconsin also needs to teach programs that show the true history of Native American-American relations, Holsey said.

Bills banning the teaching of critical race theory could ban teachers from teaching this difficult history, Holsey said.

“The policies of the United States, including genocide, ethnic cleansing, forced expulsions and brutal assimilation policies, have had a significant impact on our communities to this day,” Holsey said in the Wisconsin article. Examine. “But our discomfort with sharing this painful collective history pales in comparison to the lived experience of so many Indigenous people over the past 530 years.”

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It’s also important for the state to understand that the decisions it makes about the environment and climate change affect indigenous tribes, Holsey said.

For example, pipeline projects seriously harm Indigenous communities, Holsey said, referring to Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline that currently crosses the Bad River reservation. Enbridge is proposing to reroute the pipeline around the reservation, but activists say any spills from the pipeline will still affect the reservation’s watershed.

Lawmakers must consider Indigenous lands when building such infrastructure, Holsey said. Wisconsin also needs sustainable agricultural mechanisms and food markets that represent the state’s diversity, Holsey said.

“Failing to act quickly and letting the climate crisis run wild will continue to wreak havoc in Wisconsin and across the country,” Holsey said in the Wisconsin Examiner article. “Wisconsin’s climate is changing. These changes affect the stability of Wisconsin’s economic sectors, as well as human health and safety.


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