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Next History Speaks event covers Skunk Hill

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The Marathon County Historical Society presents “Skunk Hill: A native Ceremonial Community in Wisconsin,” another topic in its History Speaks series, at 2 p.m. May 11 at the Woodson History Center, 410 McIndoe St., Wausau.

Participants may bring their native artifacts for an identification session beginning at 1 p.m., ahead of the talk.

Rising above the countryside of Wood County, Wisconsin, Powers Bluff is a large outcrop of quartzite rock that resisted the glaciers that flattened the surrounding countryside. It is an appropriate symbol for the native people who once lived on its slopes, quietly resisting social forces that would have crushed and eroded their culture. A large band of Potawatomi from the Kansas Prairie Band Potawatomi reservation, established the village of Tah-qua-kik or Skunk Hill in 1905 on the 300-foot-high bluff.

In  this presentation, archeologist Robert Birmingham traces the story of this community, detailing the role it played in preserving Native culture through a harsh period of U.S. Indian policy from the 1880s to 1930s. The story’s central focus is the Drum Dance, also known as the Dream Dance or Big Drum, a pan-tribal cultural revitalization movement that swept the Upper Midwest during the Great Suppression, emphasizing Native values and rejecting the vices of the white world. Though the community disbanded by the 1930s, the site, now on the National Register of Historic Places with two dance circles still visible on the grounds, stands as testimony to the efforts of its members to resist cultural assimilation.

There is no admission fee; however, donations are appreciated.  Registration is not required.

For more information, call the Marathon County Historical Society at 715-842-5750.

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