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Woven Portraits of Elders from Wisconsin's 12 Tribes



The Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland, WI, part of the Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest, will host ANCESTRAL WOMEN EXHIBIT - 'Woven Portraits of Elders from Wisconsin's 12 Tribes' June 7-October 1, 2017.


The Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center (NGLVC) is two miles west of Ashland, Wisconsin, on U.S. HWY 2. The NGLVC facility was established through efforts by the Friends of the Center, a grass roots, non-profit organization formed to support the goals of a new Center that combined elements of history, natural resources, and visitor information under one roof. The group lobbied the state and federal governments for nearly six years and obtained state and federal funds to build the Center. Construction began in 1995 and opened in May 1998. The Forest Service holds title to the facility and 180-acre grounds. Operation of the Center is through a unique federal, state, and local partnership. Federal, state, and local organizations align their missions to bring specialized services to visitors and communities. The Center's operating partners are the US Forest Service, National Park Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Wisconsin Historical Society, University of Wisconsin - Extension, and the Friends of the Center Alliance, Limited.



Area Women Chosen by Tribes Featured in Weaving Exhibit


Diana Miller and her grandmother, Che-mon Louis Amour, were chosen to represent the Menominee Indian Tribe. Diana was born and raised on the Menominee Reservation where she lived through the termination period, a time when the U.S. government attempted to end the status of Indian tribes as sovereign nations. She had one grandparent from Lac Courte Oreilles and one grandmother from Menominee, Che-mn Louis Armour.


Diana left Menominee to work in Appleton when she was 18 years old, eventually moving to Milwaukee and working for the Health Department. She attended UW-Milwaukee and Marquette University where she studied labor law and conflict resolution. Diana worked in outreach to the Native American community. She was a staff representative of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) in Madison from 1993 to 2008 and was the first American Indian woman on the union staff of AFSCME. She was also one of three American Indian women elected from Wisconsin to participate in the International Year of the Woman. Diana also dances at powwows and creates powwow regalia, and is very politically active, including service as a founder and vice-chairperson of the American Indian Caucus. She is also the chairperson of the Menominee County Democratic Party and a member of the 8th Congressional District Executive Board of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.


Born in the late 1800’s, Che-mon Louise Armour was an integral part of the Menominee Nation leadership and was known as a medicine woman. Che-mon travelled to Oshkosh for a celebration of Chief Oshkosh and the city of Oshkosh. There she is pictured with Menominee delegations, and she was the only woman among them. Diana never met Che-mon, as she died before Diana was born. The weaving of Che-mon Louis Armour is based on a historic photo. She was a strong leader and an applique’ artist who created her own patterns. Her granddaughter Diana carries on these traditions.


Bernice Davids Miller Pigeon, Nutkaskwa, “The Gatherer,” was selected to represent the Stockbridge-Munsee Band. Bernice was born on September 1, 1918, the oldest child of Elmer and Eureka Jourdan Davids. She was raised on Big Lake in the town of Red Springs near Gresham, Wisconsin, on a little farm, and often talked about picking berries, chasing cows, and swimming across Big Lake. In 1935, at age 16, she married Arvid E. Miller, and they had 10 children.


Bernice always had a curiosity about many things. She always had books around the house to satisfy this curiosity. She was especially interested in gardening, medicinal herbs, birds, trees, native plants, even weeds. When she and Arvid traveled, she would have a bucket and shovel in the trunk of the car in case she saw an interesting plant she could dig up and take home. She was known for her big garden of perennial flowers, and often invited others to take home a flower they liked. She loved nature and was known as “The Gatherer.”


Bernice was also was very interested in Mohican tribal history and was always gathering information about the Tribe. She was the founder of the tribal historical library and museum in memory of Arvid, whose papers were the basis of the tribal archive. She became the Tribal Historian and continued to work on adding to the collections until her death in July of 2005. She and Arvid left behind over 200 descendants.


Dr. Lillie Rosa Minoka-Hill, Youdagent, “She who carries aid,” was selected to represent the Oneida Tribe. Dr. Lillie Rosa Minoka-Hill became the second female Native American doctor in the United States in 1902. Born a Mohawk Indian in 1876, she married Charles Hill, an Oneida Indian, and moved with him back to Oneida, Wisconsin, where he had built a house on a farm.


Dr. Hill practiced medicine but didn’t have a Wisconsin license, so she practiced informally in her kitchen. She practiced in an “inconspicuous way” – she gave without demanding payment. The doctor on the Oneida reservation left to serve in World War I, and so more and more people came to her. Influenza was rampant and she and her six children became sick, too. Charles contracted appendicitis and died in 1916, leaving Rosa to raise their small children, run the farm, and doctor all those who came to her. In this era, Native people were denied access to hospitals and health education – child mortality was three times the national average. Dr. Hill learned herbal remedies from Oneida medicine men and women and incorporated those skills into her kitchen clinic for 40 years. She made house calls, taught preventative medicine, and accepted food as payment for her services.


Though she had a heart attack in 1946 that left her blind in one eye, she continued practicing from her home. In 1949, she received the "Doctor of the Year" award from the American Medical Association. That same year she was named “Indian of the Year” in Chicago. Perhaps most importantly to her, that year she was also adopted as a tribal member of the Oneida and given a new name – Youdagent – “she who carries aid.” Dr. Hill died in 1952, and two years later, the Oneida church community erected a monument in memory of Rosa. The inscription reads, “Physician, Good Samaritan, and friend of People of all religions in this community, erected in her memory by the Indians and white people.” It includes, “I was sick and you visited me.”