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'Those are my ancestors': Native American artifacts discovered beneath Oshkosh park

'Those are my ancestors': Native American artifacts discovered beneath Oshkosh park
Posted at 3:56 AM, Oct 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-20 04:56:45-04
  • University of Wisconsin Milwaukee researchers identified evidence of a Native American settlement that dates from AD 900 to 1600 in Oshkosh, according to the City of Oshkosh
  • The discovery happened during reconstruction of Menominee Park’s Pratt Trail, which will now be delayed
  • UWM confirmed to Oshkosh that the historically significant village site has been preserved intact
  • Leaders from the Menominee and Ho-Chunk tribes visited the site
  • Video shows the site and representatives from both tribes discussing the significance of the find

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

This construction of a new trail here in Menominee Park in Oshkosh is on hold. Why is that? Well, UW Milwaukee archaeologists believe they've found something in the soil here that goes back way before the City of Oshkosh existed.

The UWM researchers say they've found evidence of a Native American city that dates back to sometime between the years 900 and 1600.

"The majority of the archaeological resources are covered with plastics, of course, to protect it from the environment and locals," said Bill Quackenbush, Ho-Chunk Nation Tribal Historic Preservation Officer.

Quackenbush has been to the site recently and says the city may have been from his tribe.

"It's ancestrally located right in the central area of our ancestral homelands," Quackenbush said. "That's where they say our creator placed us."

The Menominee tribe also lived on the west side of Lake Winnebago in the past.

"The park itself is named Menominee Park," said David Grignon, Menominee Nation Tribal Historic Preservation Officer. "So that tells me our people lived in that area."

And David, do the researchers know yet if the artifacts are from the Menominee or the Ho-Chunk?

"There's not enough evidence to determine affiliation," Grignon said.

Quackenbush says the project can enhance both Oshkosh and Native American culture and history.

"That roadway through that park, there's a trail system," Quackenbush said. "We often try to include and enhance educational opportunities that gives that City of Oshkosh, for example, an ability to tell a better tale of what that land encompasses."

The Ho-Chunk hope Oshkosh and the researchers take the history of the site as seriously the tribe does.

"As these archaeologists dig down through these layers of soils and take you back in time, those people are my ancestors," Quackenbush said. "They lived and died and they're buried there, amongst that area."

Menominee Park is still open during the archaeological work, but visitors are required to respect the restricted areas of the park.