September 2010 – Cultural Landscape Tour

Academic Technology's picture
Aaron Bird BearJoin us September 23, 2010 11:30 - 1 pm on a campus walking tour with Aaron Bird Bear. Meet in front of Memorial Union. In the event of rain, look for signs posted at the Union and we'll meet indoors. Join us for a walking tour with Aaron Bird Bear (Mandan, Hidtasa & Dine’ Nations). This walking camps tour will demonstrate how place based learning can enrich teaching and engage students with course content. Join us in hearing and participating in the stories of the parallel developments of the state and university with consideration of the complex outcomes for American Indian people and nations of the Great Lakes. The evolving relationship between Indians and non-Indians can be seen in the development of campus buildings and landmarks over time. 05 minutes - welcome and topic introduction 50 minutes – walking tour and discussion at each of the five stops. Participants will have time to meet one another as we have about a 5 minute walk between each stop. 05 minutes for closing and announcements Planning to bring a group? Please RSVP. Join us in hearing and participating in a narrative sharing of the parallel developments of the state and university with consideration of the complex outcomes for American Indian people and nations of the Great Lakes. The evolving relationship between Indians and non-Indians can be seen in the development of campus buildings and landmarks over time. The tour will also visit Indigenous landmarks created between 700 and 2500 years ago. In interpreting the significance of the landmarks, the tour will provide an overview of American Indian history and federal Indian policy leading us to a greater awareness of modern Indigenous nations and peoples. Continuously inhabited since ice sheets receded 12,000 years ago, DeJope ("Four Lakes" in the Ho-Chunk language) has been the ancestral home of the Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Sauk and Fox, and Potawatomi Nations. The shores of Lake Mendota are now home to the University of Wisconsin – Madison, arguably one of the richest ancient archaeological landscapes of all campuses in the United States. The campus and the city of Madison exist in what was once the epicenter of the effigy mound building culture of the upper Midwest. Of the ~15,000 landscape features created prior to European arrival, close to 4,000 remain, with over thirty ancient Archaeological Sites known on current or former campus property. UW-Madison currently enrolls over 300 American Indian and Alaskan Native students. The Indigenous student body represents over 40 of the 564 American Indian and Alaskan Native Nations in the United States today, including students from the 11 Wisconsin Indian nations.
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davidmchugh's picture

Notes on the Tour: At the

Notes on the Tour: At the Memorial Union o This program was developed for Native American and Alaskan native students and Aaron reminded us that “We are guests of the Ho-chunk”. • “Despite this university’s somewhat imposing presence… there is a way to see the journey of this institution from a very, very exclusive institution complicit in some pretty horrific events happening in southern WI… to a place that is nurturing and developing American Indian leaders. And that is a big journey. How do we see the evolution of that relationship over time?” o At the old main entrance to the MU, the place new students begin their story at the UW, one of the first things seen is a representation of the peace pipe. It is on the door handles, the union symbol and the ceiling just inside. • The early classes of the UW would pass the pipe on to the next class in what was the stereotype of the time of an American Indian ceremony, complete with dressing up and dancing around a fire. • From the beginning of the UW’s history, the American Indian presence and long history has been felt. The often confused reaction to it started out negative but has changed greatly, and improved, over the years of this relationship.

Bascom Hill - Interrogating the Good and Great About Our University o “Our university is heralded as something good… ability to sustain and nourish democracy… development for the state intellectually, economically and it talks about cultural enrichment of citizens in general. The core mission to elevate the capacity of the state in many ways.” o The first building on campus… North Hall (“UW 1.0”) • It was the institution – the whole thing. Living and learning. • “When the university opened, we didn’t even have a student body that could go to college” – there was no real high school system at that point • In that period “Madison was only a city on paper, at least for European Americans… the Ho-Chunk have been living here for a long time, they have a bunch of development here.” • North Hall was built about 150 years ago, but it’s built on an effigy mound that is 5 to 15 times older. • North Hall is now a National Historic Landmark. o “This building reminds us who we were as a society at the time. Architecture, asthetics – what we felt was beautiful – what we could even accomplish.” • “But 150, because we’re such a thin new country – crazy experiment, democracy – we have to preserve the little marks that show how we’re advancing this incredible new idea… it’s sacred to our society, yet it is built upon and erased something that was sacred to other people before it. Something much older than it. So if the criteria is age… why preserve this and why the university was erasing the indigenous landscape that existed before?” • American Indian mounds were also leveled to build Bascom Hall and Humanities • It’s not all dark history though - there were people fighting to preserve the effigies and culture even back in the day. • “So we have these great iconic landmarks that tell us something about who we are, what we value, that describe us, but it’s erasing people that were here before.” • UW as a land-grant institution, having received 72 parcels of land which it used to lure more settlers here • Where did the land come from? o It was ceded by the Menominee and Ho-Chunk, who were then forced to leave. This was done under duress, after already being weakened by disease and economic factors.

“Abe the Babe” - Lincoln’s statue on Bascom • Lt. Lincoln fought in the Blackhawk wars • “For me, as an American Indian, Lincoln is a very complicated figure. George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln. Andrew Jackson and George Washington were both famous Indian fighters, and that is part of their election campaign.” • At the close of the Civil War, Lincoln sends the (now large) national army to wrap up the Indian Wars • The largest public mass execution in US history was under his presidency, of Indian men in Minnesota • “So the stories we tell about who’s heroic, who holds us, what is good and what is great about our institution, that is something I think that other people have differing viewpoints of. But we often sell 1848 onward – Forward… This is the bleak starting point. It gets better.”

On Observatory Hill there are two effigy mounds, though they are partly cut off by sidewalks o There is a small fence separating the mounds from the sidewalk - just thin poles with a chain between them. It’s been there for ten years. This is, for Aaron, “the most tangible item we have about that Indian/non-Indian relationship.” • “It’s about how we value something that we didn’t use to, ten years ago. We’re trying to steward it in ways that are meaningful to everybody. But we still have to do what we have to do, and this gets torn up in the process [plowing the snow] every year.” o There was a massive concentration of Indian mounds in Dane county – about 1500 of the 15-20 thousand in the state • The Ho-Chunk tell us the very center of this concentration is where the capitol now stands • Why don’t we know about or memorialize this? o Another National Historic Landmark plaque is pointed out, this one for an effigy mound • The plaque itself is not actually altogether accurate, but it has been there so long, that it is now a historic item itself, and cannot be removed or updated. • The mound is of a “double-tailed water spirit”, but, due to a kink in one of its tails, it is unique – as far as we know. Thus the plaque. • “We’ve gone from ethnic cleansing to celebrating and protecting – which is an incredible journey. We teach Ojibwa language on campus, we have an Am. Indian studies program, we have an enlarging the Native student body. So it’s a very exciting journey, full of all sorts of still tensions and conflicts as any two socities will have with each other… We have at a new… unprecedented relationship with Indians and non-Indians that we have never seen in US society. The period we are in is unique and novel in that there is a lot of mutual accommodation going on that did not appear in periods before now.” • We won’t know more about these mounds unless an American Indian decides to do their PhD on it. The Ho-Chunk and Iowa nations know more, but they aren’t telling. • As we walk, Aaron points out Latin lettering on the side of a building • “I see a nation reaching all the way across the Atlantic, thousands of miles away, to give itself a semblance of identity and culture… We’re new, we have to define ourselves.”

Last stop – a Contemporary Expression of the Indigenous Population on Campus – A Tree o Of the 574 fed recognized nations, speaking 175 of the 300 languages spoken before Europeans, there are 300 some students here representing 40-50 nations represented • This is a very diverse community - different languages, religions, world views… o 1988 – American Indian community asked a Mohawk elder from the Tree of Peace Society to come here and plant this tree, which is a symbol of the Iroquois Confederacy • “The tree represents the confederacy itself, and the roots represent each individual nation in that confederacy. They are strong as one… each add to it, each nourish it in their own ways. Unified as a campus community we are strong. Divided we are not.” • “It is here for us, it is about us. • Use of high ground • Ancient effigy mound next to this modern pan-Indian expression (tree) o There’s a plaque near the tree. Part of the plaque contains a picture, which represents a creation/flood story • When the flood happened, “Everyone jumped on turtle’s back, trees on, eagles on top – trying to find new land. They can’t find any. They send muskrat down below to see if he can find any earth underwater. He does, but drowns in the process. But they know they can remake the world again.” • The plaque is to represent “How we view our place in the world, our worldview, where we can find comfort on our campus… A contemporary community in an ancient landscape, and the journey we’ve had along the way… We’re in a new place, a place of being with each other. And it’s an exciting place to be.”

catstephens's picture

More on our native

catstephens's picture

Thank you, Aaron !

Thank you, Aaron ! Thank you all for attending today. We will post our notes and pics from today here .. soon. Catherine
Aaron Bird Bear's picture

Hello all, I put up the

Hello all, I put up the wrong link--should work below--
Aaron Bird Bear's picture

Link to UW Cultural

Link to UW Cultural Landscapes: First Nations video (25min).
Nancy M Mithlo's picture

Wonderful opportunity Aaron!

Wonderful opportunity Aaron! May I share with my American Indian Art Class? 25 students.
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[...] us September 23rd, for

[...] us September 23rd, for a Cultural Landscape Tour with Aaron Bird [...]