By Shereen Siewert

Efforts are underway to recognize the original inhabitants of Marathon County, after the Diversity Commission passed a resolution last week that would designate the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

In addition to passing the Diversity Commission, the proposal was approved May 21 by the Extension, Education and Economic Standing Committee and is subject to full board approval. The issue will be presented May 23 at 7 p.m. at the County Board Educational meeting, which will include a time for public comment.

The full board will vote on the measure on Tuesday, May 28. Wisconsin comprises 11 federally-recognized tribal nations.

“The Menominee, Ojibwa (Chippewa), Potawatomi, Ho-Chunk (Winnebago), are among the original inhabitants of Wisconsin,” the resolution states. “They lived off the land, farming, hunting and gathering, and maintained strong family ties and cultural traditions within their respective tribes.”

The proposal also directs the county administrator to include education about the history and culture of Indigenous Peoples in the County’s Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day On in-service education, so that county employees can be more informed about diverse peoples and cultures.

Tricia Zunker, who is a Ho-Chunk Nation associate justice and was recently appointed president of the Wausau School Board, said she plans to speak at the May 23 meeting in support of the effort.

Zunker said she has been fundraising for the inaugural Indigenous Peoples’ Day pow wow, which will be held Oct. 12 and 13 at Wausau West High School.