The biennial budget passed earlier this year set aside $11 million in tribal gaming revenues to be used as grant money for tribes.
The Department of Administration requested the Joint Finance Committee to award $1 million from this fund to each of the 11 federally recognized tribes in Wisconsin, which will be used to pay for expenses not related to gaming.
Instead, the Republican-controlled committee voted to award $1 million to 9 of the 11 tribes, while reserving $2 million in supplemental program revenue appropriations.
The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa were excluded.
The committee did not explain why it excluded those two tribes when voting on funding.
In joint letters sent to the JFC presidents and Governor Evers, the tribe’s elected leaders called it a “discriminatory act.”
“Our tribal members, who are also Wisconsin residents, deserve an explanation as to why they are being singled out for such discriminatory treatment,” the letter said.
It calls on the state to “remediate the situation” and awards $1 million dollars each to the Bad River and Lac du Flambeau tribes, with the same amount awarded to other tribes in the state.
Lac du Flambeau Tribal Chairman John Johnson Sr. also sent a separate letter to tribes receiving funding.
In it, Johnson speculates that his tribe was not given funding as a response to the tribe’s ongoing dispute with the city of Lac du Flambeau over private landowners and the road easement.
He calls on other tribes to either reject the funding or accept them under “vocal protest against unequal treatment”.
The Lac du Flambeau Tribe is in Senator Mary Felzkowski’s district.
He is also on the Joint Finance Committee.
WXPR emailed a staff member for comment. We’ll update you if we hear back.