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Lawmakers Push For Recognition Of Tribal ID Cards

Bill Would Allow Tribes To Use Tribal IDs For Voter Registration And More

Wisconsin state Capitol
Justin Kern (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Wisconsin lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow members of federally recognized tribes to use their tribal identification cards for voter registration and more.

The bill would allow tribal ID cards to be used to pick up medication at a pharmacy, as well as buy alcohol and tobacco products. State Sen. Jerry Petrowski, R-Marathon, said other states recognize tribal IDs as official forms of identification, including Idaho, Minnesota and Washington.

“I think this bill is reasonable and I would hope you all would support it,” said Petrowski in a Senate Committee hearing Thursday.

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Sokaogon Chippewa Tribal Chairman Chris McGeshick testified during the hearing that tribes issue ID cards so members can practice their rights to hunt, fish and gather under federal treaties.

“That identification card is valid for that, but we can’t utilize it for a number of other things,” said McGeshick. “But, yet in the state of Wisconsin, there’s so many different forms of identification that are accepted in the state that come from other states, other jurisdictions, other nations — just not tribal members.”

State Sen. Janet Bewley, D-Delta, said tribes identified the issue with tribal IDs during discussions on the State-Tribal Relations Committee.

“It’s an excellent thing to do, not only because it makes it more convenient for tribal members, but indeed it acknowledges tribal sovereignty and says that an ID issued by the government of a tribe is as valid as an ID issued by the state of Wisconsin,” she said.

Several tribes have voiced their support for the bill, including the Oneida, Menominee and Stockbridge-Munsee tribes.