One of the issues raised by local Native Americans is that the "Hiawatha" statue has no connection to Wisconsin tribes.
However, a closer look at this issue would prove otherwise.
The real-life Hiawatha lived from the year 1525 to 1595 and he was a member of both the Onondaga and Mohawk tribes. He was a mighty warrior, but more importantly, he was a co-founder of the Iroquois Confederacy which consisted of the Oneida, Seneca, Mohawk, Onondaga and Cayuga tribes.
Today, the Oneida Nation is one of the major tribes in Wisconsin. The fictional Hiawatha in Longfellow's poem is a member of the Ojibwa Nation, which is also one of the major tribes in Wisconsin. I would like to see the Hiawatha statue remain at Riverside Park. However, if this proves to be unacceptable to our local citizens, then I propose that the statue be renamed and rededicated to Blackhawk, the great Sac and Fox chief who led his people in a noble fight against the U.S. Army in 1832.
If this idea sounds acceptable to all parties concerned, then a plaque with his words: "I loved my home and I fought to keep it" should be attached to the statue. These words are taken from the historical marker on Hwy 35 south of La Crosse. I think all Americans would feel the same way as Blackhawk did if their homes were jeopardized in a similar manner.
Harry Turner, La Crosse