MADISON, Wis. — On the first day of Native American Heritage Month, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Ben Wikler and Second Vice Chair Tricia Zunker released the following statements:
Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Ben Wikler:
“This Native American Heritage Month, let’s honor the life and legacy of trailblazing Indigenous leader Ada Deer, whom Wisconsin lost this year. Ada was an unparalleled leader in the fight for Indigenous sovereignty and human rights for all peoples, and her legacy will live on for generations to come.
“Ada led the fight to restore federal recognition of the Menominee Nation, marking a turning point in the national fight against the federal government’s policy of terminating tribal recognition nationwide. She went on to become the Menominee Nation’s first woman chair, and was later appointed by President Clinton to become the first Native American woman to lead the Bureau of Indian Affairs. At the BIA, she signed off on federal recognition of hundreds of Alaskan Native villages, among many other achievements. This work was just one aspect of her extraordinary legacy in politics, activism, academia, and as a social worker, all chronicled in her aptly-titled memoir, Making a Difference: My Fight for Native Rights and Social Justice.
“Ada embodied the resilience and determination of Wisconsin’s Indigenous tribes that we see reflected in the countless people she touched throughout her life. She was tremendously proud of her heritage, and this month we are proud to honor Native American Heritage Month and recommit to the struggle for sovereignty, opportunity, and justice for all Native Americans.”
Democratic Party of Wisconsin Second Vice Chair Tricia Zunker:
“Every November, we recognize Native American Heritage Month and celebrate the rich cultures, diverse histories, and unending resilience of Indigenous Peoples, both in Wisconsin and across the country. From the Ojibwe bands to the Oneida, Potawatomi, Stockbridge-Munsee and my own tribe, Ho-Chunk Nation, Wisconsin’s 12 Native Nations have distinct histories, and legacies that are fundamental to the American story.
“While we honor Native Peoples this month, we must also recognize the ongoing challenges facing our communities, and devote ourselves to action, not only to address pervasive educational inequity and to protect our burial grounds, water, and environment, but to solve the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and persons, address the disproportionate rates of incarceration, poverty, substance abuse, and suicide in Indigenous communities and heal intergenerational historical trauma.
“Native rights are human rights, and this month we will celebrate our history and vow to continue learning from the past to ensure a better future for all Indigenous Peoples.”