Second Monday in October
I am descended from European immigrants to the “New World.” From the mid-1600s through the 1800s, they came to North America from over a half-dozen European lands. Like Jonathan M. Clark, Mary Turck Clark, and their nineteenth-century Mequon neighbors, I’m here because my ancestors left Old World homes, families, and communities behind and made difficult voyages to America. There is much to admire in their individual stories of migration and settlement in a new nation. There are aspects of their lives that are less than exemplary, too. Discovering and sharing their stories is, for me, one of the most interesting aspects of studying history.
But stories of European immigration are only one part of the history of our continent and our nation. It’s essential we remember that when Europeans began to “discover” the Americas in the late-1400s, there were already large numbers other peoples already here. Their ancestors made the trip here much earlier; it is currently believed that Paleo-Indians migrated to the Americas at least 15,000, and possibly as many as 30,000 years ago. Today’s map is a tribute to—and a call to remember—the many peoples, cultures and communities that existed in the future United States prior to European colonization:
Sturtevant, William C, and U.S Geological Survey. National atlas. Indian tribes, cultures & languages: United States. Reston, Va.: Interior, Geological Survey, 1967. Map. https://www.loc.gov/item/95682185/
In the early-1800s, descendants of these original indigenous peoples—including the Menominee, Ojibwe (Chippewa), Potawatomi, and Ho-Chunk (Winnebago)—were still living in what would become the State of Wisconsin. The Clarks, Turcks, Bonniwells, and other Mequon settlers knew them, and appear to have maintained neighborly relations with them for many years. These indigenous Americans and their families had survived centuries of European diseases and forced relocation. Now, almost two hundred years later, their descendants still live in Wisconsin, something that European-Americans often forget.
Today is the second Monday in October. It’s a good day to remember, and honor, the original Americans.
UPDATED: October 11, 2020, to include Gov. Evers’s proclamation from 2019. Click images to enlarge and read in new windows, or click here to open a pdf of the complete document.