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USA News

WI Church camp changes name, claims it is first step toward "lifting up Indigenous voices."

by Premier Journalist

In Wisconsin, a United Church of Christ camp has changed its name in order to "lift up Indigenous voices" and own up to colonialism.

Camp Awesum, a summer ministry based in Green Lake, Wisconsin, announced that it would change its name to Daycholah Center. The facility will host a ceremony on October 11, also known as Indigenous Peoples' Day, to rededicate the camp and recognize the new name.

Daycholah is a references to the camp's lake and the ancestral homeland of the Menomonie, Ojibwa, and Ho-Chunk Nations.

"This new name recognizes that this land was and remains a sacred place for Native tribes," said Glenn Svetnicka, executive director of United Church Camps, Inc. 

Svetnicka said in a press statement that the camp's ministries have "a unique role and opportunity to restore the voice of Native Americans, acknowledge their stewardship of this sacred place, and begin a journey with this one small reparative step toward building strong, supportive and sustained positive relationships with our indigenous siblings."

The process of changing the camp's name started in 2019, the conference then spent the next three years in a process of "dialogue and listening to learn and better understand the impacts our history has had within our wider community." 

“In my experience and education growing up in southeast Wisconsin, the history of the Pilgrims, Puritans, idealized Thanksgivings, westward expansion, and the settling of this ‘new country’ were all spoken of positively from a European colonist perspective,” says James Schleif, a chaplain from UCCI. “As my life experience and education broadened, I learned that there is a quite different perspective from a Native American experience."

The renaming ceremony will be preceded by educational opportunities to understand Indigenous perspectives.

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