Members of the Menominee Tribe marched through Waupaca County Saturday on their way to Madison.
They are protesting Gov. Scott Walker’s decision to reject the tribe’s proposed casino project in Kenosha.
The Menominee began their journey in Keshena and plan to walk 156 miles to Madison, with stops in Manawa and Waupaca.
They braved wind chills of -17 degrees Saturday morning as they marched along State Highway 22 through Manawa.
Vyron Dixon, with the Menominee Tribal Legislature, told the Waupaca County Post, that the march “is trying to get the governor to come back to the table and review our compact together.”
The Menominee have proposed an $800 million casino and hotel project that would be managed by Hard Rock International, which is owned by the Seminole Tribe in Florida.
Dixon said the casino would create 10,000 jobs and boost Wisconsin’s economy.
Walker said the state, under a 2005 gaming compact, would have to reimburse the Potawatomi for any revenues their casino lost due to the Menominee’s Kenosha casino. He said the losses could be in the hundreds of millions.
The tribe has pledged to contribute $1.7 billion from the Kenosha casino’s proceeds to the state, including $220 million toward a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks.
“We’re combating frostbite and pushing through because the casino means an opportunity for 9,000 tribal members to come out of poverty,” Dixon said.
The Menominee Reservation is virtually identical with the boundaries of Menominee County.
With a per capita income of only $10,625, Menominee County is the poorest county is Wisconsin. It ranks as the 38th poorest county in the nation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
According to the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Menominee County has the highest percentage of children in poverty and the highest unemployment rate of the state’s 72 counties.
“The casino would give the Menominee people and the state of Wisconsin access to a better future,” Dixon said.