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Native Memorial Mural

Ancestors Buried Below Us

The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point commissioned a Native artist in 2022 to create an outdoor memorial to commemorate the Native Americans buried on campus grounds before UW-Stevens Point was established. Following a series of land transfers, the Stevens Point Normal School was built on the site and opened in 1894. Christopher Sweet, a contemporary artist and member of the Ho-Chunk and White Earth Ojibwe tribes, honors the Ho-Chunk, Potawatomi, Ojibwe and Menominee tribes, all of whom were victims of the scarlet fever outbreak in the 1860s, in this mural through images and words representing each. A poem written by Denise Sweet, former Wisconsin poet laureate and cousin to Sweet, accompanies the work as well. This piece portrays ancestors with raised hands symbolizing themselves lifting up future generations.

Sweet was selected out of several submissions by a committee that included members of multiple Native tribes. He holds a deep understanding of Native American experience, voice and history in Wisconsin. His goal for the mural was to have people feel the ancestors’ encouraging spirit of resilience and support and for future generations of Indigenous students to thrive.

The memorial stands between the Communication Arts Center and Dreyfus University Center near the iris fountain on campus.