The Kwewag Indigenous Culture Church
The Kwewag Indigenous Culture Church is a registered 501(c)3 Nonprofit Organization
Indigenous cultures are spirit based. The culture and traditions cannot be
separated from the spiritual connection. Where there is one, there is always the other, in all that we do.
The story begins in August 2022 upon returning home from visiting the Away From Home exhibit. I openly expressed myself on facebook.
You can see/read the actual post here.
This led to the construction of my own exhibit storyboard that debuted at Indian Trails Campground the last weekend in August. I was on such a mission I created this exhibit inside of 3 weeks. My first sneak peek was revealed online here.
After the event weekend I shared a video clip of a Native friend and his daughter visiting my exhibit for the first time. I shared that here.
My husband then helped me to set up the exhibit in my yard after our stormy event weekend so I could get a video for our online followers. This turned into 2 video clips that can be found here: Part 1
After the debut I began plans to expand this exhibit, make it nicer for other types of events where we weren't held to "1800's period correct" restrictions. Our debut earned us a few table donations for the expansion and a few other small donations to contribute. I was feeling encouraged when I reached out to the library management staff. When I searched the website for who to contact, that was the group I came up with. Not sure if there was someone specific in that list, I sent it to all of them.
I waited patiently for a reply and took the time as a good indication they were reviewing the materials & information I had offered. I was encouraged and hopeful, as I could find no logical reason for them to turn me down other than the timing. I did take the time to check the library calendar to check for other special exhibits during the month of November but didn't see any. Because my exhibit can be set up in a few hours I had hoped this would resolve shorter timing accommodations but we never had that conversation. Next in the timeline is the response I received from Karin this week.
This response brought a wash of emotions here. You see, as a Native American female in Wisconsin, USA, I am used to this. I am used to being disregarded, ignored, and made to feel insignificant, or sometimes told outright that I am. It's not a great way to live. However, I contained my emotions and continued working the process. I reached out next to Diana Pardue, hoping to possibly find an ally who would/could help. It's a great thing I wasn't holding my breath.
I received a response the next day
As you can read here, I was promptly dismissed.
By this time my frustration had turned into anger. I was no longer just offended, I was sincerely angry and ready for yet another fight to be allowed to speak my own truth, to represent my people, to teach my culture, and introduce the world to the REAL people. By the time I finished reading this email from Ms Pardue for the 4th time, I went back to facebook to continue to share our story. To make it make sense I put the whole thing out there. My life is an educational adventure for my followers so their responses were also immediate and offended as they were watching this play out. I invited them, as I always do, to share their feelings freely, not just with me but also with Karin and Diana.
In doing this facebook posting I was able to quell my anger while I was forced to review the entire situation rather than reacting out of simple anger in the moment. I was also allowed to see how others viewed the situation. I then went back to email and immediately responded to Ms Pardue's email.
My email is a clear view of my emotional state at this time. I received an auto responder from her email stating she is out of the office until Monday so I expect to hear back from her next week.
As I sent this email I was understanding that while connected, I actually had 2 separate battles in front of me. With a deep breath and firm in my decision to proceed the only way I knew how, I made the call to the Manitowoc City Hall and inquired about how to file a discrimination complaint against the public library. It was still early enough in the day to not drag this out. I have been watching the calendar as this has all played out, as we near November 1st.
My call to the city hall led me to you and our wonderful conversation on the phone.
I am hopeful tonight as I put this together for you that a fast and easy solution can be found in all of this. As I explained on the phone, I am not unreasonable and I am not bitter and hardened to a point where I cannot understand that misunderstandings happen and can potentially be resolved in a less aggressive way. I prefer that because put simply, it's a lot less work! The catch is in how to get anyone to listen in the first place, as you can see where my attempts led before I reached you. It is common for people to dismiss me and never give me a 2nd thought and while wishing to resolve this situation, I also wish to teach a lesson that will stay with everyone going forward: This never should have happened in the first place. This was completely avoidable.
Now, as this moves forward I will continue to acknowledge that you, kind sir, are but 1 person on a board of directors and do not control the final outcome by your wishes alone. I do not wish to illicit threats, however I must make note here that should this continue to be a problem in spite of our combined efforts to find a reasonable resolution, I am still prepared to go forward with my discrimination complaint if necessary. I don't think any further explanation for the "why" is necessary at this point so I will not dwell there. I hope that can be avoided.
I have 1 more link to share with you before I finish. My church, The KICC (The Kwewag Indigenous Culture Church) is an enigma to the general public right now. We are still new and not yet well known. More important is that we are unique and unlike any other church that has ever existed in the US. Because the word "church" has caused so much controversy, I took the time to sit through an interview to help explain it all. It is a lengthy video but well worth watching. You can find this video here.
I am happy to report that Ms Pardue is currently working with me to track down the appropriate person/people responsible for the exhibit so it can be addressed directly with The Heard Museum & Endowment of the Arts.
Unfortunately I cannot report the same with the Manitowoc Public Library. After a wait of nearly 3 weeks I sent another email and received this email today from Mr Able.
As I read his email today the emotions once again flooded forth. His proposed solution is to allow this other interpretation of our family's truths, my family's truth and experiences to stand while we are buried in a diversity program on their website?
I ask the world around me right now, how different would all our lives be if the Nazis were allowed to dictate the truth and narrative of the Jews all these years? If theirs was the only story you were allowed to hear in your public library and beyond? Then I ask how this is really any different??
So this is where we are folks. I have spoken with my attorney and have the go ahead to be heard as far and wide as I can be, with as much help and as many voices as are willing to join me. I ask now for yours as we begin to plan our first protest prayer vigil outside of this library. They aren't hearing me so please help me to get their attention and make them understand, inspire them to do the right thing.
11/18/22 Update can be found HERE
In summary: A phone call between Dawn & Karin, the executive director and Karen Hansen, the program manager took place to discuss "other options" as suggested by Karin. When asked the procedure for having an exhibit hosted as we saw over the summer, Karen Hansen was included in the call and briefly explained that an exhibit must hold interest to the library and their programs, then goes to the board of directors for a vote. Our exhibit was denied. That was it.
When asked repeatedly for any explanation about why our exhibit was denied so possible modifications could be considered by the KICC team, both women danced around the question without providing an answer until Karin spoke up and stated bluntly that neither of them was going to answer my question.
After multiple requests for a meeting between the KICC board of directors and the library board of directors I was finally told Karin would submit the request to the library president, Chris Able, who decides what does/does not appear on their agenda. As of 11/27/22 the KICC is still waiting for a response to learn IF we will be granted this meeting, and if so, when.
I will continue to bring updates here to this page and will announce all plans for protest rallies and vigils on our website home page. Please scroll to the top of this page and click to get involved and show you support!
To date we have received 0 response from the MPL about our request to be put on their agenda. I (Dawn) attended their December 2022 public board meeting and spoke during public comments where I was informed they are not allowed to interact with anyone during the public comments and they are not allowed to discuss anything that isn't on their agenda. With their refusal to respond to emails they have made it impossible to get any response from them about anything at this point.
The video recording of this meeting can be found HERE
While not visible on the video, the physical response from some of these people while I spoke was disrespectful and rude. You can read about it on my facebook post.
The MPL's December board meeting can be seen below.
There was no contact made until the MPL January board meeting which I again attended. This time I was joined by Co-founder of The KICC, Dr Delia Ross and a member of the public. This time I was prepared and the reaction was very different. The video speaks for itself.
They did, however, do the same thing to Delia this month that they did to me the last. I will be back February 27, 2023 at 5pm CST, as promised and I invite the public to join me. Bring your family stories, bring your own... help me to educate these people about the TRUTH of the Native American boarding schools and the harm they still continue to cause today!
Until next month...