City celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day ahead of Chief Oshkosh signing meeting


OSHKOSH – Mayor Lori Palmeri will mark Indigenous Peoples Day at the Chief Oshkosh monument, ahead of next week’s discussions to update the statue’s panel to include a more accurate depiction of former Chief Menominee.

“The indigenous peoples of the city of Oshkosh are an important and valued part of our community,” Palmeri said in a statement. “It is a small gesture to genuinely encourage contemporary citizens to learn more about our common past, while taking into account the lands we inhabit today.”

Palmeri will declare Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday, with a proclamation read Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Chief Oshkosh monument in Menominee Park. The ceremony will also be shared on Sunday and Monday on the city’s social media pages.

The holiday coincides with Federal Columbus Day, named after explorer Christopher Columbus, although the latter has become controversial in recent years. In 2019, Governor Tony Evers has appointed the second Monday in October like Indigenous Peoples Day in Wisconsin. Palmeri first proclaimed Indigenous Peoples Day in Oshkosh during his first term as mayor in October 2019.

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The proclamation recognizes the contributions of the Native Americans of Wisconsin, particularly the Menominee and Ho-Chunk nations who inhabited ancestral lands in and around present-day Oshkosh, and the trauma they faced when transferred to reservations and forced to assimilate into European ways of life.

“Although Christopher Columbus is celebrated for the scientific work of finding an ocean route to the Americas, he did not ‘discover’ new lands,” the proclamation states. “These lands have already been discovered and inhabited by indigenous peoples. “

The proclamation coincides with a meeting of the Monuments Commission on Wednesday to discuss the Chief Oshkosh Monument Project with project members, including Menominee tribal representatives. This project proposes to add five plaques to the monument that include more biography of Chief Oshkosh, who was born in 1795 and served as Chief of the Menominee Nation from 1827 until his death in 1858.

One plaque design includes an actual portrait of Chief Oshkosh, which is quite different from the statue in Menominee Park.

“The statue in front of you not only distorts the personal appearance of Chief Oshkosh himself, but in so doing, perpetuates white Euro-American stereotypes that indigenous peoples are primitive and exotic,” the plaque suggested. “By reducing Chief Oshkosh’s many significant accomplishments to the naming of this city, the original plaque that accompanies it serves as an example of the colonial tendency to reduce and erase Indigenous strengths and achievements.

Discussions have been ongoing about updating the statue since 2015, Palmeri said. These were dissolved until last year, when Palmeri said the city’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee had taken it over.

The Monuments Board will meet at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday in Room 404 of Oshkosh City Hall, 215 Church Ave.

Those who can’t read Palmeri’s proclamation live at 4 p.m. Sunday can search “#IndigenousinOshkosh” on Facebook to find the show.

Contact Katy Macek at [email protected] or 920-426-6658. Follow her on Twitter @KatherineMacek.

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