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Neenah lawmaker may seek to withdraw funding for Indian cultural center

by
State Rep. Dean Kaufert (R-Neenah)
State Rep. Dean Kaufert (R-Neenah)

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - A Republican lawmaker says he might ask to withdraw state funding for a new Indian cultural center, after six Chippewa tribes said they would spear a near-record number of walleye this spring.

The Lac du Flambeau tribe was planning to get a quarter-million dollars for the new center. But Neenah Representative Dean Kaufert said that tribe and others are violating a 1997 agreement to limit their daily harvests, in exchange for the ability to sell state recreational licenses.

Kaufert says he’ll bring up the grant funding at next month’s meeting of the State Building Commission.

Officials say the Lac du Flambeau will lose $84,000 from the state, plus license revenues, if they go ahead with their plan to spear 59,000 fish.

The tribes have a right to the fish, under treaties that are centuries old. But the DNR said the tribes are going against an agreement not to stifle the sport anglers’ harvests once their season begins in May.

The tribes say they need to fish to feed their families.

It also comes at a time of increasing tensions between the state and the tribes over Wisconsin’s wolf hunt from a year ago, and the relaxing of standards for a proposed new mine upstream from the Bad River reservation.

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