ONEIDA - The Oneida Nation is supporting another area Native American tribe in building an off-reservation casino in Kenosha.
The Menominee Nation has federal approval to build the casino, but still needs the go ahead from Gov. Scott Walker.
The Menominee have partnered with Hard Rock International on the $800 million project. The private-corporate involvement has also raised questions about the project that includes a casino, hotel, and restaurant.
Thursday’s endorsement by the Oneida puts the project one step closer to meeting the governor's requirement of all state tribes approving of the plan.
“They are our closest neighbor,” said Edward Delgado, the Oneida Tribal Chairman, while talking about the Menominee. “They welcomed us here almost 200 years ago when we needed a place to go.”
Delgado says the decision came after studying casino revenues and where visitors come from.
He says if the Kenosha casino is built, the Oneida Tribe will have a role in banking services, marketing strategies, and future business associations.
“I always knew in my heart that Oneida would support us,” said Craig Corn, Menominee Tribal Chairman.
“This is a business relationship, it's not a revenue sharing relationship,” said Delgado. “It does not contain, like, a payout from the profits.”
Delgado says the Oneidas made their decision before meeting with Walker and other state tribal leaders on Wednesday.
Walker has said he will approve the project if the Kenosha community supports it, there's no net increase in gambling and the state's other ten tribes approve.
“I think he'll look at it in a different light after he reviews all the facts,” said Corn.
The Ho-Chunk Nation and Forest County Potawatomi remain opposed.
In a statement, Potawatomi Spokesman Ken Walsh says the Kenosha casino proposal still fails to meet the governor's criteria.
“I won't give up on the possibility that we can come to some agreement,” said Corn.
The governor has said he'll make a decision by Tuesday.
Either way, the chairmen of the Oneida and Menominee tribes say they will maintain a strong relationship going forward.
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