Photo by WJFW Newswatch 12
Gov. Evers issues apology on Indigenous Peoples' Day
Story By Lilly Zoller
Local News Published 10/11/2021 4:34PM, Last Updated 10/12/2021 5:41PM
Northwoods - Native American history in the United States is one of violence and persecution.
"The trauma that happened to the people, they still relive it today through some of our elders, and through our teachings we learn how to cope with this," said President John D. Johnson Sr. of Lac Du Flambeau. "Like I said, you know, the past can't be changed but it can be talked about so it doesn't happen again in the future."
This was what Gov. Tony Evers spent the morning of Indigenous Peoples' Day doing. He also signed an executive order to formally acknowledge and apologize for Wisconsin's "historical role" in boarding schools.
"It's estimated that thousands of Native American kids in Wisconsin were forced to attend one of these schools, leaving generations of trauma inflicted on Native families and communities and a loss of language, culture and identity," Evers said.
There were at least 10 of these schools throughout Wisconsin. Native children were also sent out of state where they were forced to assimilate to White culture.
"As a state, we bear the responsibility for acknowledging the trauma and pain inflicted on tribal communities then and today, and we have a moral responsibility to not only investigate the truth but pursue a more just and equitable relationship with native nations," said Evers.
The executive order seeks to formally recognize and apologize for the atrocities done to Native Americans at the hands of state and federal governments. It also welcomes the Department of Interior to investigate the boarding schools that once operated in Wisconsin.
"It made me really feel good inside knowing that our culture is still gonna be looked at in the future for our Native American kids," Johnson said.
Supporters say the work isn't done yet. This is just the start of moving forward.
"Looking to the future, I'm hoping that other governors across the U.S. will do the same and recognize, you know, what had happened was a tragedy and we need to fix it for the future," Johnson said.