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St. Croix tribe, WisDOT partner on dual-language highway signs

By: Ethan Duran//May 30, 2023//

St. Croix tribe, WisDOT partner on dual-language highway signs

By: Ethan Duran//May 30, 2023//

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Gov. Tony Evers, Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Secretary Craig Thompson and leaders from the St. Croix tribe stand underneath a dual-language sign unveiled inside Burnett County. WisDOT has worked with five federally recognized Native Nations to install bilingual signs along tribal boundaries in Wisconsin. (Photo courtesy of the State of Wisconsin.)

Gov. Tony Evers, leadership of the St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) on Thursday revealed new dual-language signs in both Ojibwe and English on state highways to indicate tribal boundaries inside Burnett County. This is the fifth Native Nation the state has worked with as part of a WisDOT 2021 initiative to install dual-language signs for federally recognized nations.

The new signs feature the St. Croix tribal seal next to the tribe’s name in Ojibwe, “Metaawangaag,” pronounced Meh-ta-wan-gog, governor’s officials said. Metaawangaag is the traditional name for the reservation and means “sandy beach.” The English language version of the highway sign will be below the St. Croix tribe version, governor’s officials added.

Restoring the Ojibwe language is a priority for tribal leadership and having dual-language signs would help people living outside the community better understand, St. Croix Chairman William Reynolds said.

“Reversing the decline of our Ojibwe language has become one of tribal leadership’s most desired goals. The tribe has been working diligently to revitalize our language through educational efforts, cultural ceremonies, historic preservation and work assignments. In the prioritization of dual language signage, we demonstrate our desire to both speak and understand Ojibwe and the pride we have in our language. It is our hope the dual-language signs will also encourage non-tribal people living near or passing through our communities to have a better and kinder understanding of who we are as traditional Anishinaabe people,” Reynolds said in a statement.

In a statement, Evers said the work is “fostering a stronger sense of connection, informing visitors of our shared history and celebrating tribal heritage.”

The governor, tribal officials and WisDOT officials met in at the St. Croix Tribal Center in Webster to unveil the dual-language signs, governor’s officials noted.

These signs identify multiple tribal communities in Barron, Burnett, and Polk counties, WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson said.

WisDOT in 2021 kicked off an initiative to install dual-language signs in tribal locations and federally recognized nations. The St. Croix tribe is the fifth in the state to install dual-language signs, along with the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, Oneida Nation, Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the Sokaogon Chippewa Community, Mole Lake Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, governor’s officials added. Wisconsin is home to 12 Native nations.


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