A memorial marker will be placed on the UW-Stevens Point grounds to acknowledge indigenous people buried there many years ago. This historical aerial photo shows the campus in the 1950s. Photo courtesy UWSP.

STEVENS POINT – A memorial marker will be placed on the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point grounds to acknowledge indigenous people buried there many years ago.

UW-Stevens Point occupies the ancestral lands of the Ho-Chunk and Menominee people and recognizes this at the start of all meetings on the Stevens Point campus.

Recently, historic research showed the campus encompasses what was at one point a Native American camp and burial ground of the Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Ojibwe and Potawatomi. In the 1860s, scarlet fever devastated a diverse group of Native Americans who were living outside of Stevens Point after being forced out of their ancestral homelands by settlement. The deceased were buried on this site.

Stevens Point Normal School was built on the site, opening in 1894. In 1925, archaeologist Charles E. Brown recorded this indigenous village and burial ground.

The memorial marker is one of the first steps to acknowledge the Native burial grounds, said UW-Stevens Point Chancellor Bernie Patterson.  This marker will be in place while tribal historic preservation, campus and community representatives work together to create an appropriate permanent memorial to native ancestors.

“While these efforts are ongoing, the temporary marker will remain in place to respect the site and educate our communities of our shared history,” Patterson said. “The university is committed to establishing a permanent memorial that honors the Native American ancestors in a respectful and collaborative manner.”

A memorial marker was installed during a ceremony on Dec. 17, with representatives of the tribal nations and university speaking.

The public will be invited to visit the marker, located south of the Dreyfus University Center, after the pandemic subsides.

Karen Ann Hoffman of the Oneida Nation who lives in Stevens Point, and archeologist Ray Reser, retired from UW-Stevens Point, have led efforts to honor those in the mass burial site.

UW-Stevens Point is proud of a rich history with the Native community, having established one of the first Native American Centers in the UW System, said Al Thompson, vice chancellor for Student Affairs. “We look to strengthen our relationships with the 12 Native Nations in Wisconsin and create additional opportunities for our Native students to attend and succeed at UW-Stevens Point.”

The newly formed School of Humanities and Global Studies is working with tribes, faculty and students to interpret this history and install a permanent exhibit in UW-Stevens Point’s Museum of Natural History. A tentative opening date for this exhibit is 2023.

Source: UW-Stevens Point