The Pilgrim Center in Green Lake has been renamed “Daycholah Center” in honor of the Ho-Chunk Native Americans who first inhabited Green Lake, Daycholah being the original Ho-Chunk name of Green Lake.
The name change to United Church Camps, Inc. (UCCI). The outdoor ministry site at Green Lake went into effect on Thursday, September 9. A re-inauguration ceremony is scheduled for Monday, October 11, which will include the unveiling of a flag pole displaying a Ho-Chunk flag in commemoration of the name change, as well as a meal featuring Native American dishes and an open house.
The new name aims to recognize that the land was and is a sacred place for indigenous tribes, while recognizing their stewardship and beginning a journey towards forming “positive and lasting relationships with our indigenous brothers and sisters,” according to an announcement. September 9 from (UCCI).
“The name change is an appropriate and necessary first step on our path to a future where all are welcome and included and have a voice,” said Judnard Henry, CEO of the Daycholah Center. “We will continue to grow as a sacred place of love, a sanctuary, a community of inclusion and belonging, a place to learn and to connect more deeply with God and all others.”
UCCI Executive Director Glenn Svetnicka said the idea to rename the Pilgrim Center arose after the 2019 Wisconsin Conference United Church of Christ annual meeting, which “repudiated the doctrine of discovery.” .
He said the doctrine allowed the genocide of Native Americans and the theft of native lands.
In the language of this repudiation, there was the word “reparations,” Svetnicka noted.
This word means different things to different people, but Svetnicka quoted Maya Angelou when describing UCCI’s point of view: “When you know better, you do better. “
During the conference, Svetnicka approached Larry Littlegeorge – who is a member of a church in Black River Falls, and pleaded for repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery – and asked him if Littlegeorge would be willing to come to the Pilgrim Center. to educate guests going through the facility. .
Littlegeorge replied, “Of course I’ll come when you change the name, because it’s not really welcoming to a Native American like me.”
“At that point, we knew better,” Svetnicka said. “This [renaming] Let’s try to do better, now that we know better.
After the conference, UCCI began a three-year process to listen to the Ho-Chunk community, learn and understand the effects of its history. The dialogue was led by the United Church of Christ Hocak at the Black River Falls Indian Mission and facilitated by the Alliance for Justice.
These discussions with a diverse group of stakeholders focused on the impact of words, particularly the word “pilgrim” in Pilgrim Center.
“As my life experience and education broadened, I learned that there was a very different perspective to a Native American experience,” said UCCI Chaplain James Schleif. . “Considering the Aboriginal perspective, we might have a better understanding of how a name like ‘pilgrim’ would be offensive. In some ways, the landing of Pilgrims and Puritans marked the end of their way of life.
While researching a new name for the Pilgrim Center, UCCI learned that Native Americans called Green Lake “Daycholah” and used a location along the south shore for various ceremonies and celebrations.
In fact, there are effigy mounds on the Pilgrim Center that provide evidence of the area’s “spiritual significance” to Native Americans.
“The Green Lake site has always had spiritual significance as a gathering place for the Ho-Chunk people centuries before Columbus landed on Turtle Island,” said Littlegeorge.
Likewise, Svetnicka added that renaming the Pilgrim Center to Daycholah Center is the first step in a long journey to recovery, which aims to give Ho-Chunk a place at the table during deliberations over the future of the site.
“The most important voices throughout this process have been the voices of the Ho-Chunk people – we have listened to them and taken their leadership and our decision is to restore their voice and recognize their stewardship of this land,” a- he declared. “With the grace of God, we must stand in solidarity with our Indigenous sisters and brothers, and although we think this is an important step, it is just that – a step. There is a long way ahead of us.