MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The leader of a northeastern Wisconsin tribe delivered a list of grievances to lawmakers during state tribes’ annual legislative address Tuesday, touching on election bills, climate change, discrimination and a lack of infrastructure.
Shannon Holsey, president of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians, delivered the State of the Tribes speech to a joint legislative session in the state Assembly chambers.
She said democracy itself is at stake, saying the tribes have seen a force that would “shatter our nation rather than share it” and that effort very nearly succeeded. She didn’t elaborate, leaving it unclear if she was referring to former President Donald Trump’s refusal to accept that Joe Biden defeated him in 2020 or the Jan. 6 insurrection at the nation’s capital.
Holsey criticized Republican-authored bills moving through the state Senate that would tweak Wisconsin election laws, saying they would make voting harder and rob people of their voices.
She then pivoted to climate change, praising Democratic Gov. Tony Evers for establishing a task force to address the issue. The tribes are especially worried about plans to reroute an Enbridge oil pipeline around the Bad River Band of Lake Superior’s reservation, she said. A spill could pollute scores of tributaries leading to the Great Lakes, poisoning drinking water for millions of people, Holsey said.
She also called for keeping protections for wolves, calling the animal a brother. A federal judge this month restored protections for wolves across much of the continental United States.
Holsey went on to complain about the use of American Indian names and likenesses in sports, calling their use “dehumanizing and objectifying.”
“Imagine the outcry if there was a team called the Colonizers,” Holsey said.
She also called for expanded internet access throughout the state, saying she’s hopeful that the federal infrastructure bill will provide funding to finally make that happen.