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Chevalier - Grignon - Manning - Chief Oshkosh Plaques (October 2021)Chief Oshkosh Monument Project Presentation: Becoming Neighbors with Legitimacy Arnold Chevalier, Dave Grignon, and Pascale Manning Image credit: Oshkosh Public Museum manningp@uwosh.eduContact: David Grignon (Menominee) – Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Menominee Indian Tribe Current Members of the Chief Oshkosh Monument Project Committee Pascale M. Manning – Assistant Professor of English, UWO Arnold Chevalier (Menominee) – Former Chair of the Wisconsin Humanities Council FIVE PLAQUES - FINALIZED LANGUAGE - WITH IMAGES INDICATING PLACEMENT 1) BIOGRAPHICAL PLAQUE (SOUTH SIDE, FACING THE STATUE): This statue commemorates Oshkosh (b. 1795), Chief of the Menominee Nation from 1827 until his death in 1858. It is largely in relation to the conflicts of settler colonialism that Oshkosh is remembered by history. From the War of 1812, in which Oshkosh fought alongside the British, to the Black Hawk War of 1832, where he sided with the Americans, to the numerous treaty negotiations he effected on behalf of the Menominee Nation, his tenure as Chief was shaped by proceedings enforced on Indigenous peoples by an organized settlement campaign. While the Menominee and Ho-Chunk Nations had by the nineteenth century a long history of coexisting in adjacent lands, reaching agreements through a principle of land sharing, Chief Oshkosh was forced to negotiate agreements with the U.S. government under a principle of Indigenous removal that saw the Menominee, like so many Indigenous nations in North America, forcibly displaced from and dispossessed of their traditional territories. But under his leadership, the Menominee successfully resisted a proposed total removal to lands in Minnesota, securing instead in 1854 a 276,480-acre parcel of land along the Oconto and Wolf Rivers. It is there, in what became the modern Menominee Reservation, that Oshkosh died in 1858. 201 words 2) STATESMAN PLAQUE (ON EAST SIDE OF THE STATUE) While seeking to prioritize the needs of the Menominee at a time of rapid change, Chief Oshkosh witnessed settlement on several fronts: by encroaching European and American traders and settlers seeking lands and means to extract natural resources in the Wisconsin Territory, but also by Indigenous nations displaced by the U.S. government (including the Oneida, Stockbridge-Munsee, and Brothertown, a.k.a the New York Tribes). With the passing of the Indian Removal Act in 1830, Chief Oshkosh was faced with the difficult task of protecting the rights of the Menominee against a federal government that perceived them as an obstacle to expansion. In the years leading up to and following the 1830 Removal Act and the 1848 formalization of Wisconsin’s status as a state, Oshkosh negotiated land cessions – including the 1831 Treaty of Washington, the 1836 Cedar Point treaty, the 1848 Lake Pow-aw-kan-nay treaty, and the 1854 Treaty of Wolf River –that ultimately amounted to more than 10,000,000 acres of land around Green Bay, the Fox River Valley, Wisconsin River, and lake Michigan. Oshkosh’s life was marked by the growing isolation of the Menominee as other local nations –the Sauk, Mesquakie, and Ho-Chunk –were removed from their traditional territories. But it is testament to his skill as a leader that, as part of a delegation sent to petition President Millard Fillmore to prevent the removal of the Menominee to 600,000 acres along the Crow Wing River in Minnesota, Oshkosh helped to persuade the President to allow the Menominee to remain and became the architect of two agreements that led to the formation of a reservation along the Oconto and Wolf Rivers, estimated by 1856 to be of some 235,000 acres. 278 words 2) STEWARD PLAQUE(ON WEST SIDE OF THE STATUE, OPPOSITE “STATESMAN” PLAQUE) Under the leadership of Chief Oshkosh the Menominee ultimately secured 235,523 acres of forested land along the Oconto and Wolf Rivers, and the practice of tree harvesting they enacted there has led the Menominee forest to become one of the world’s most historically significant examples of ecosystem preservation in a working forest. The sustainable forestry practices of the Menominee Nation are recognized internationally as signal examples of responsible land stewardship, and it is the blending of traditional methods and beliefs with evolving forestry practice that has enabled the Menominee to ensure longstanding sustainable yield and a balanced habitat in their forest. Chief Oshkosh himself is reputed to have offered instruction on a method of harvest that emphasizes regeneration and endurance: “Start with the rising sun and work toward the setting sun, but take only the mature trees, the sick trees, and the trees that have fallen. When you reach the end of the reservation, turn and cut from the setting sun to the rising sun, and the trees will last forever.” Regardless of the source of the instruction, the long-term productivity of the Menominee forest has been ensured as well as the health and diversity of its ecosystem. 198 words 3) LAND PLAQUE(ON NORTH SIDE, BEHIND OSHKOSH, FACING THE LAKE) Posoh –Welcome! You are standing on the ancestral lands of the Menominee, which stretch out around you as far as the eye can see and for millions of acres beyond to the west, north, east, and south. From this site you see Lake Winnebago, one of many shallow lakes in the region that once supported a thriving wild rice marsh. This crop formed an essential part of the traditional Menominee diet, which also included sturgeon, game, and both wild and cultivated plants and vegetables. (Indeed, the word “Menominee” is a form of the Algonquian word “Menōmaeh” (“wild rice”) or “Omaeqnomēnewak,” meaning “people of the wild rice.”) To the east lies the Fox River, a waterway that sweeps north, toward lake Michigan’s Green Bay, where it mingles with the water issuing from the sacred Menominee River, whose mouth lies on the western shore of the great bay. Menominee oral history tells of how Maec-awaetok (Great Spirit) created the first human by gifting the power of transformation to a bear at the mouth of the Menominee River, and how the Ancestral Bear in turn helped to build the Menominee tribe through the transformation first of Eagle, then Crane, then Wolf, and finally of Moose into the tribe’s earliest people. From them were borne the principle clans, family groups stretching from time immemorial to the period of Chief Oshkosh’s governance to the present and into the future. Chief Oshkosh, whose name means “The Claw,” was of the Bear Clan, and his devotion to his Clan’s duty to regulate civil affairs is apparent in the living legacy to his efforts to protect the interests of his people during a time of rapid change. 279 words 5) META-PLAQUE(ON THE SOUTH SIDE, BELOW THE ORIGINAL PLAQUE; THIS REVISION ASSUMES THAT AN IMAGE OF OSHKOSH WILL BE INCLUDED ON THE PLAQUE): As the image on this plaque demonstrates,the statue before you not only misrepresents the personal appearance of Chief Oshkosh himself but in doing so perpetuates white Euro-American stereotypes of Indigenous peoples as primitive and exotic.In reducing Chief Oshkosh’s many significant accomplishments to lending his name to this city,the original accompanying plaque serves as an example of the colonial tendency to reduce and erase Indigenous strengths and achievements.Taken as a whole,the existing monument serves as a troubling testament to the long history of misrepresentation and misunderstanding of Indigenous peoples and the living and present legacy of settler colonialism and serves as a reminder of how far we have yet to go to properly recognize the real contributions and presence of Indigenous peoples. 126 words