The DNR has named a liaison between the agency and the Wisconsin Native American tribes. The move comes after growing concerns about the tribal-state relationship.
Some native American leaders are upset with the Walker administration over issues including wolf hunting and the proposed taconite mine. So the state has asked Shelly Allness to leave her tribal liason post in the tourism department and take the same role at the DNR, where she earlier worked in the water management program. The DNR would not make Allness available for an interview, and one of her new bosses, Kurt Thiede, downplayed any past problems with the tribes. "What we're really trying to do here with the central coordinator role is to make sure that communications are coming to a central location, that we're very cognizant of the follow-up needed on a variety of issues. I think it's a different way of trying to address our tribal communications, more than anything."
Journalist Paul DeMain, of IndianCountryTV.com, says he's glad to hear that Shelley Allness has experience working with the tribes. But according to what he's heard from tribal leaders, Allness will have her hands full. "She steps into a hotbed, compared to 10-15 years ago, when it seemed to me there were people who understood the co-management, and I stress that again, co-management of the resources. Resources that have been reserved both for Ojibwe people and the public."
DiMayne says the DNR is going to have to get a better handle on government-to-government protocols and relationships.