Virg Bernero (The Detroit Free Press)

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. 

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