By Taylor Hale, Stevens Point News
PORTAGE COUNTY – Community members gathered to celebrate Native American history during Indigenous Peoples’ Day at UW-Stevens Point on Oct. 14.
The celebration included a procession, speakers, and the placement of 12 permanent flags in the Dreyfus University Center. The 12 flags represent the 12 tribes of Wisconsin.
State Representative Katrina Shankland announced a statewide proclamation during the gathering, declaring the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples Day. Governor Tony Evers signed the declaration.
“I am excited that the governor recognized today as indigenous peoples day,” said Shankland. “It’s really important to recognize that we are all on indigenous land. They have been marginalized and have had to fight for rights others have been granted — even though it’s their land to begin with.”
Stevens Point Mayor Mike Wiza wrote a proclamation declaring Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the city in 2017. The new state proclamation is intended to celebrate indigenous history while promoting the well-being and growth of Native communities.
UWSP Native American Center Coordinator Iris Carufel spearheaded the installation of the 12 tribal flags. She is a UWSP alumnus with a passion for sharing indigenous culture.
“This was something that I wanted to do since I was a sophomore at UWSP,” Carufel said. “I graduated in 2015, but I used to go around to other colleges and see the tribal flags in their hall of nations. I wanted to have something like that here.”
State and university leaders were in attendance at the event.
Carufel is excited to see the state government further its aid of indigenous people. She considers the new flags and proclamation as a continued step in Native support.
The 12 tribes represented by the flags are: Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa; Forest County Potawatomi; Ho-Chunk Nation; Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa; Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa; Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin; Oneida Nation; Red Cli Band of Lake Superior Chippewa; Mole Lake (Sokaogon Chippewa Community) Band of Lake Superior Chippewa; Saint Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin; Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians; and Brothertown Indian Nation. Brothertown Indian Nation, however, is not a federal or ocially state-recognized American Indian nation.