Lansing Mayor Virg Berner, under fire for what two Michigan tribes described as a string of anti-Indian slurs made at a recent fundraiser, has denied this week that the remarks combining profanity with references to "bows and arrows," and nicknaming a Native American opponent "Chief Chicken-Little," were inappropriate.
The Detroit Free Press reports:
The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi and the Saginaw Chippewas, who are opponents of a proposed casino in Lansing that would be operated by another tribe, said Bernero “repeatedly used profanity and racial slurs in describing the (casino) controversy.”
The tribes said Bernero referred to a bull’s-eye on his back and said that he was the target of “bows and arrows” for championing the casino proposal.
James Nye, a Lansing lobbyist for the Nottawaseppi and Saginaw Chippewas, who is a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, said he was told by several people attending the fund-raiser that Bernero singled him out as “Chief Chicken Little.”
Nye said the remarks, at a Thursday morning mayoral fund-raiser, were “inexcusable.”
“I’ve been in a lot of debates but never been personally attacked,” he said. “This is embarrassing … pretty disgusting.”
Bernero's weak response suggests that he believes these loaded terms were the only way to get his point across: "Nothing I said can fairly be construed as a racial slur … I make no apologies for using strong language against our opponents … but I do offer my heartfelt and sincere apology to any and all who were offended by my choice of words," he said in a statement.
Read more at the Detroit Free Press.