Door Community Auditorium has rescheduled a planned series of talks about First Nations in response to the increase in COVID-19 infections in the area.
The series will open Feb. 12 with Margaret Rose Ellis, Yotsi’nahkwa’talihahte; and Mirac Ellis, Shako’tsyuntha, speaking about the Oneidas. Originally from New York State, the Oneidas came to Wisconsin through “a tale full of deceit and corruption,” the program note read.
“However, Oneidas have managed to take their situation and make the best of it,” the note continued. “In an effort to show the beauty that Oneida people have created for their community, we will share a brief historical timeline before we get into some of our traditional teachings and ways of being on this earth, both in ancient times and today.”
Cari Lewis, executive director of Door Community Auditorium, said the program grew out of discussions with Destination Door County and the Friends of Gibraltar.
“Our conversation meandered to a shared interest in knowing more about the history of the region prior to the 1850s and the arrival of European settlers,” she said.
Although the county has several historical societies preserving buildings and artifacts from the mid-19th century on, history of the time before that isn’t as well known, Lewis said.
In her search for resources, she learned that UW-Green Bay has a First Nations Program led by Lisa Poupart.
“First Nations Studies is committed to the study of First Nations culture, philosophy, history, language and the social, economic and political status of indigenous people and their communities,” according to the university’s website.
UW-Green Bay (UW-GB) has about 170 Native American students on campus and employs some tribal elders in residence to explain oral traditions and other aspects of the culture. About half of UW-GB students take at least one course in First Nations before they graduate.
“Even though we had partnered with UW-GB in 2019 and 2020, it was news to me that they have a First Nations Program,” Lewis said. Poupart “took the lead in identifying four speakers or speaker teams to represent four tribes that have called Door County and neighboring lands home: Ho-Chunk, Oneida, Potawatomi and Menominee.”
The Feb. 19 talk will be “Potawatomi Nation through Time,” presented by Joseph Daniels Sr. and Starla Lulling.
On March 5, the topic will be “Ancient Roots: Connecting Our Shared Histories” by Pitaepanuhkiw (Benjamin) and Waqnahwew (Lucy) Grignon, who have been reconnecting to their cultural inheritance through the land, plants and wildlife on their ancestral homelands.
The March 12 presentation will explore “Ho-Chunk History Past, Present and Future” with William Quackenbush, tribal historic preservation officer and Cultural Resources Division manager for the Ho-Chunk Nation.
The series of talks was suspended last year because of COVID-19. The 2022 series will continue the more informal format introduced a few years ago, but with safe seating in the auditorium. The doors will open at 9:30 am for coffee and conversation. The first segment of the talk will run approximately 10-10:45 am, followed by a 20-minute break. The second segment and Q&A will run approximately 11:05 am – 12 pm.
In addition to the partnership with UW-GB, Door Community Auditorium is linking with local organizations to present this program.
“Door County Civility Project has been our partner in presenting Door County Talks since 2019,” Lewis said. “We were happy that they were on board to join us again as the series went dormant in 2021. The Ridges contacted us upon learning of our slated talks. They, too, were exploring similar topics this year and just held a very successful event.”
Lewis said COVID-19 has challenged the auditorium’s programming.
“We’re approaching the two-year anniversary of a cycle of rescheduling events, sometimes twice or thrice,” she said. In response, Lewis said she and the auditorium staff have tried to stay current on safety protocols and new technologies so they can continue meeting, working and offering online cultural programming.
“I thought by the fall – and certainly by now – we’d be focusing more on programming and less on protocols and calendar chess,” she said. “We just really want to be able to do what we do best: bring people together for performances, lectures, exhibits and movies.”
Visitors should check dcauditorium.org to see any changes in schedules and pandemic protocols. Proof of vaccination is required to attend in-person events.
Recordings will be available at dcauditorium.org after the events take place. Participation is free, but advance registration is required to attend the in-person talks. Register at dcauditorium.org, or call the box office at 920.868.2728.
The first Door County Talks event will be held Feb. 12, 10 am, when Margaret Rose Ellis (Yotsi’nahkwa’talihahte) and Mirac Ellis (Shako’tsyuntha) will present “Oneidas of Wisconsin.”