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Standing Tall for Justice

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A peace tree was commemorated on October 18, 2021, Indigenous People’s Day, to honor the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two Spirits (MMIWG2S) of Wisconsin. Indigenous People’s Day celebrates Indigenous culture while also educating on the historical inaccuracies that have come along with Columbus Day. This event brought together many people from the Fox Valley and surrounding communities, showing support for the local Native communities of Wisconsin. The peace tree is a white pine from the Menominee Forest, generously donated by the Menominee people. This tree stands tall in our community and was planted adjacent to Ellen Kort Peace Park near the banks of the Fox River below downtown Appleton. This tree serves as a reminder of how we can better treat each other and the land.

The event was live-streamed and recorded. If you missed the live event, you can watch the recording on Facebook here.

Along with honoring this tree, this event was a chance to come together and look for ways to do better. Governor Tony Evers was in attendance and mentioned how he signed an Executive Order that “formally recognizes and apologizes for the tragedies inflicted upon Native American communities at the hands of state and federal government.” This formal recognition should have happened long ago, but it is good that is progress being made.

Another speaker was Kristin Welch, a member of the Menominee Nation and Executive Director of Waking Women Healing Institute. This organization is so important because it provides support and healing for MMIWG2S families and survivors of gender-based violence. Kristin’s organization honors MMIWG2S individuals just like the peace tree. Both provide support for Indigenous communities and move us into a more unified and peaceful community.

Something from this event that really stuck with me came from Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes. He stated, “We should never tolerate the oppression just to celebrate the resilience.” Hopefully this is a narrative that we move away from as we become more educated and moved to act. With the planting of the peace tree, we are going in that direction.

Kayla Nessmann
ESTHER Communications Coordinator

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