MILWAUKEE, Wis – Today, people from tribes across the state came to the Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center for a mural unveiling and healing event hosted by Wisconsin Native Vote, a program of Wisconsin Conservation Voices.
Milwaukee is home to the largest concentration of Native people in the state, with a diverse population from tribes around Wisconsin and the country. The significance of this gathering is profound – bringing together a diverse group of Native populations to heal together, honor their traditions, and celebrate their freedom to vote.
On the mural, artist Christopher Sweet (Ho-Chunk/Ojibwe), painted imagery of land, water, and a jingle dress dancer, which signify the need for healing and protecting the seventh generation. The seven individuals holding hands in the air show unity, diversity, achievement, and the seven generations.
The event featured prayers, drummers, jingle dress dancers, and speakers who created an engaging communal space for attendees to celebrate and honor their right to vote.
Special thanks to the Potawatomi Business Development Corporation for its assistance in construction of the mural.
Marlon WhiteEagle, President of Ho-Chunk Nation, spoke at the event and said, “Ho-Chunk is translated to ‘People of the Sacred Voice.’ The Ho-Chunk Nation is proud to be collaborating with Wisconsin Native Vote to not only ensure the voices of our tribal members are heard, but also the voices of all our Indigenous brothers and sisters. Our ancestors fought for our right to vote, and casting your ballot is a way to honor them.”
Chairman Steve Ninham (Oneida), Chair of the Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center Board of Directors had this to say during his speech, “The many people who built the Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center understood the need for healing. Our communities need healing and love. That is why we are here today. Together we can vote for our health, vote for fair access to healthcare, vote for healing, and vote for the seven generations.”
Anne Egan-Waukau (Menominee), Urban Native Vote Organizer of Wisconsin Native Vote shared these words, “Christopher Sweet’s spirit is in his mural. Let his creation heal us and inspire us to vote for our future on November 8. I remember walking into my polling place years ago and being told by the poll worker that Indians don’t vote. At Wisconsin Native Vote, we work to ensure that will never happen again – and that Native people feel comfortable and proud to cast their vote.”
Photos for use can be found here. Photo credit to Wisconsin Conservation Voices.