The installation of 11 Wisconsin sovereign tribal flags will be celebrated Monday, Oct. 8, at Indigenous People’s Day: Honoring Native Nations at University of Wisconsin-Stout.
The celebration takes place from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Terrace/Fireside Café in the Memorial Student Center. The flags will be displayed in the Overlook Lounge where international flags are located. Event sponsors are the Native American Student Organization, Multicultural Student Services and the Memorial Student Center.
Some of the flags were donated and others were purchased by NASO from funds provided by the Stout Student Association, said Synala Smith, NASO president and a junior majoring in business administration.
The tribal flags will be integrated within the international flags to signify the integration of indigenous peoples in society, Smith said. A display will explain the flags of the different native nations.
Wisconsin tribal flags will be displayed from:
- Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
- Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
- Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Tribe
- Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohicans
- Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin
- Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe Nation
- Oneida Nation of Wisconsin
- Sokaogon (Mole Lake) Chippewa Community
- St. Croix Chippewa Indians
- Forest County Potawatomi Community
- Ho-Chunk Nation
“I think it is exciting,” said Smith, of Oneida, a member of the Oneida Nation. “It just feels good to know we have allies and we are going to be represented. We are a people who have survived even though we’re invisible to society. To me, this is about raising awareness that we are here.”
Barb Miller, Multicultural Student Services director and a member of the Mohican Nation and of Menominee tribal descent, said most people she meets in Menomonie and Dunn County don’t know Menominee tribal people were indigenous to the area and still live in Wisconsin.
“I am also Mohican. Many think of the stereotypical book or movie, ‘Last of the Mohicans,’ but we are alive and well in Wisconsin,” Miller said. “Columbus did not discover this land; indigenous peoples have been thriving and contributing long before his invasion.
“There are 92 resilient native students at UW-Stout. Too often, indigenous peoples are minimized or excluded, but we continue to make a difference with students studying and graduating in art and design; business; business management; education and human services; information technology and communications; and science, engineering and math. Too often, when American Indian perspectives or images are included, representations are often inaccurate and not authentic,” Miller said.
During the celebration, UW System Native American Student Success Coordinator Sasanehsaeh Pyawasay is scheduled to speak. Pyawasay, a member of the Menominee Nation, started with the UW System in July. She is the principal resource for areas of strategic importance related to the educational success of Native American students within the UW System.
A tribal leader with the Menominee Nation and a UW-Stout alumnus, Larry Waukau, also will speak at the celebration on Menominee history. There will be hand drummers and singers who will acknowledge the flags being displayed.
Smith said other flags from other sovereign tribes will be added if students contact NASO and the organization is able to obtain a flag.
As part of Indigenous People’s Day, there will be a scavenger hunt to help raise awareness about the day. Whiteboards, with clues, will be set up from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday outside the Involvement Center at the student center.
Indigenous People’s Day is a holiday that began as a counter-celebration to the U.S. federal holiday of Columbus Day, which honors European explorer Christopher Columbus. Indigenous People’s Day is intended to celebrate Native Americans and commemorate their shared history and culture.
Multicultural Student Services is committed to inclusive excellence to enhance equity, diversity and inclusivity. UW-Stout’s growing undergraduate American minority student population is at 11.2 percent with 851 undergraduate minority students and 166 graduate minority students.
UW-Stout is Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University, with a focus on applied learning, collaboration with business and industry, and career outcomes.
Wisconsin sovereign tribal flags are being installed in the UW-Stout Memorial Student Center./UW-Stout photos by Brett T. Roseman
Eleven Wisconsin sovereign tribal flags will be displayed with international flags in the student center.