A long recognized national holiday has a new designation and purpose in Menomonie.
The second Monday in October will now be recognized as Indigenous People’s Day in Menomonie, replacing Columbus Day after a unanimous vote during Menomonie’s City Council meeting Monday night.
The change comes after a recent outpouring of community support for the often overlooked Native American population in Dunn County and around the United States, recognizing some of Christopher Columbus’ actions don’t represent the interests of the modern United States.
University of Wisconsin-Stout student Ariana Bourdon said the change will help move America forward and right a long overdue wrong.
“Indigenous People’s Day gives us awareness of an often overlooked group of people,” Bourdon said. “By continuing to acknowledge Columbus Day as a national holiday, we are constantly sending a message that we’re OK with that type of behavior he is infamous for.”
Menomonie resident Victoria Sanchez said the change is not trying to erase America’s history or rewrite it; rather, it is correcting history and conforming to the intent of the founders of the city who named Menomonie in honor of the tribe who originally settled the land.
“With this, we have an opportunity to honor the Menomonie tribe as well as this land,” Sanchez said. “You not only honor the native nation, but also the people who founded this town, as they were honoring the people who were there before them. This is one action which will change the trajectory of our future.”
Also Monday, the council approved an offer the city of Menomonie plans to make to acquire the Dunn County Government Center building and grounds at 800 Wilson Ave. The city is planning to purchase the building and grounds from the county for a total of $775,000 and the closing date is planned for Jan. 31. The action was approved with one no vote and an abstention from two of the council members.
Mayor Randy Knaack said the $775,000 price tag is a bargain and the council is right in moving the offer forward so the city can acquire the land and facilities as soon as possible.
“I think this is a good buy for the city,” Knaack said. “People I’ve talked to in the community are for it as well, so I believe it should move forward.”
The next Menomonie City Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, July 29.