INDIGENOUS…

If you ever say there’s nothing to do where you live, I can only say you’re not looking very hard. If we living here in the middle of nowhere, The End of the Rainbow Valley, can keep busy every night, you can too.

A couple of weeks ago Beer by Bike Brigade offered its second Free Community Conversation entitled “Let’s Learn about Indigenous Culture” at Turtle Stack Brewery. The initial part of the evening was to meet and greet, giving an informal opportunity to meet local residents who were indigenous. In addition, paper and pencils donned each table for attendees to write out questions to aid our speaker in the direction of her presentation. Suggestions such regarding how they live, if they are all traditional/ what is traditional? Any questions one might have /have been afraid to ask? “

Elizabeth Digby-Britten ~ Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe ~ Bear Clan was our moderator and her mother was not Native American but her father was and she identified herself as Native American who had dedicated her life to self education and to share that knowledge as much as she could about ‘her’ people and the harm inflicted upon them since colonization.

As is customary in the Coulee Region , the program began giving recognition and thanks to the land where we reside as Ho Chunk/ Winnebago, People of the Sacred Voice of the Pines, Chippewa, Ashinabe. The terminology Native American was actually created by an Italian. What name should we use ? ‘Indigenous’, Indigenous peoples.

We heard about the insulting mascot issues and misrepresentation of the original residents of our land. The oversized large statue misnamed Hiawatha ‘Indian’ will be moved from Riverside Park and rehomed to the donor’s land. Its clothing, a mishmash of different tribes and skin color not true will now sit on private, not public land. “Appreciation is appropriation.”

The question what we can do to help ‘right the wrong’ dominated the evening. To be an ally includes speaking up when wrong is witnessed/spoken. Our mission must be to learn more about the tribes and to become familiar of local resources. The 3 Rivers House was within blocks next to our main Library. There are groups advocating for Water is Life campaigns and the Wisconsin Nation for Peace and Justice (WNPJ).

The jurisdiction supposedly given to native land is a double edge sword. Why because true justice cannot happen even if the indigenous peoples investigate a crime and solve it and it involves a non resident, county officials (white fire and police) do not delve out equal and just punishment.

Less one 1% left of Indigenous people in Wisconsin, we must be allies. We must recognize the wrongs that have been done and continue. We must work hard to right these wrongs.

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