A small Wisconsin town took the name of a Seminole Indian Chief, but chooses myth over history to portray him

Osceola, painted by George Catlin. (Image: Wikipedia.)

My wife, I and two friends traveled to Osceola, Wisconsin last weekend to take 90-minute train ride to enjoy the fall colors.

The eye-opener for me was the “Chief Osceola” statue in the center of the town of about 2,500 that still seems stuck in the 1950s.

The statue has the stereotypical Plains Indian look, a half-naked man with an eagle-feather headdress, nothing like what Osceola actually looked like. It’s more town mascot than honoring the town’s namesake.

I’ll admit that there are many more pressing issues for indigenous peoples than one more offensive statue. There’s the loss of traditional indigenous languages, environmental threats to wild rice, homelessness, crude oil pipelines and more.

I still feel compelled to write about the statue and how it’s interpreted.

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Talk and Reception for HMS’ ‘Challenging Public Art’ Exhibit Sunday at Noon

“Challenging Public Art” will run through une 30.

Healing Minnesota Stories is having a talk and reception for its traveling art exhibit “Challenging Public Art” this Sunday, noon – 1 p.m. at the First Unitarian Society, 900 Mt Curve Ave, Minneapolis.

The exhibit highlights racist art in public spaces and offers alternative student art as one path forward.

Jim Bear Jacobs, Healing Minnesota Stories founder and Director of Racial Justice for the Minnesota Council of Churches, will speak on the exhibit. The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments served. Please join us if you can.

The exhibit will stay through June 30. Please contact scottrussell@usfamily.net if you are interested in hosting a showing.

Work Proceeds to Create Counter Narratives to Racist Murals in St. Paul

End-of-Year Deadline Set to Complete Work

A community Task Force created by the Ramsey County Historical Society has begun work to change the art — and the racist  narratives it promotes — in the chambers shared by the St. Paul City Council and Ramsey County Courthouse.

The Task Force held its first meeting more than a month ago and but some basic details still are in the works. For instance, the names of Task Force members have not been released as the list is not yet final.

The Task Force expects to complete its work by November or December, according to an update from Chad Roberts, the Historical Society’s executive director. Continue reading