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An initiative by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is honoring tribal communities with highway signs in both English and Native American languages.
The Sokaogon Chippewa Community in Mole Lake is the latest, as WXPR’s Katie Thoresen reports.
No matter where you go in the country or state, highway signs for places are fairly uniform. Giant green signs with big block letters in white mark the location letting you know what town or city you’re in.
A new sign recently installed in Mole Lake prominently reads Sokaogan Chippewa Community with the tribe’s seal beside it. But different from the vast majority of similar signs you find across the state, this one includes the tribe’s name in their own Ojibwemoin language.
“Zaaga’inganiin. It’s a spiritual, cultural light that was in the water. It’s part of our teaching and our migration stories, teachings that came about a long, long time ago.”
Sokaogon Chippewa Community Chairman Robert VanZile was proud to unveil the new sign in a ceremony alongside community members and officials from federal and state transportation offices.
“It’s very positive. It’s heartwarming to see these dual language signs come to life. It’s an ideal that should have happened a long time ago, but it’s happening today and that’s a good thing.”
The Sokaogon Chippewa Community is the fourth tribe in Wisconsin to install a dual-language sign.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation launched the initiative in 2021.
Wisconsin DOT Secretary Craig Thompson would like to work with all of the tribes within the state to get these signs up.
“It’s become a priority and bring back native languages. This is one way we could help and participate in that, but it’s also important for people in Wisconsin and people traveling through Wisconsin to know our history, know when they’re entering these sovereign nations, and to see it in the initial language. We think it’s important on all those fronts.”
And it is that sovereignty that VanZile hopes people will think of when they see that sign.
“I think it’s important to share our language, our culture, our identity, along with our sovereignty. When you have your language, your culture, and your identity you have sovereignty. That’s what we want to express to people.”
Tribal, state, and federal officials hailed the removal of four dams along the Klamath River near the California-Oregon line as a major step toward restoring a once-thriving watershed.
Christina Aanestad reports.
It was a decades long battle, but soon, removing four dams along the Klamath River will open up hundreds of miles of wild river habitat to salmon, a fish that is sacred to nearby Native American tribes.“My dream is to not only bring the salmon back, but bring back a way of life.”
Karuk Chair Russ Attebery was among the tribal, federal and state leaders who gathered to celebrate the largest dam removal project in the country.
Work begins next year, completion set for 2024. But Chair Attebery says more work will remain for decades to come.
Removal of the dams will also return California’s second largest river to a free flowing wild river for the first time in more than a century.
The Red Lake Nation in Minnesota is preparing for its community wellness gathering.
After a two-year hiatus, due to COVID-19, the gathering will kick off on January 9 at the Red Lake Nation College.
The goal is for people seeking solutions and opportunities to improve their quality of life, to foster success, and to overcome addictions, health issues, trauma, and grief.
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