Rebecca Kemble and Orman Waukau share a warm embrace late in the evening of the public hearing on mining on January 11. Members of the Menominee tribe were kept waiting nine hours before they were allowed to testify.
The hearing was held at the Hurley Inn, Hurley, Wisconsin — a venue not large enough to accommodate the crowds that showed up to testify. Overflow rooms were equipped with speakers, but the speakers weren’t amplified enough for anyone to hear the testimony. The Inn shut down their restaurant for the day, so no food, water or coffee were available to attendees during the thirteen hour hearing. The soda vending machines located around the lobby of the Inn were ‘Out of Order.’
According to Rebecca Kemble, when it finally came time for Orman Waukau, Jr., member of the Menominee Tribal Council to testify late in the night, the Chair of the Assembly Jobs Committee, Republican Rep. “Mary ‘Bang Bang’ Williams tried to cut off Orman a couple of times, saying he didn’t fill in a slip.” After Menominee Legislative Secretary Rebecca Alegria insisted that they had filled in slips, Orman “just started talking, with Williams interrupting, saying, ‘Who are you? What is your name?’ Orman replied, “Menominee tribal legislator. I’m a tribal elder. I would like to say that tomorrow I will make an offering of tobacco and I was told by my elders to not just do it for those that support us, but I do it for your families, for those that are on opposite sides, that we must pray together, so tomorrow I will make that offering to my brothers and sisters to the north of us.”