Menominee Cultural Museum keeps history alive

KESHENA, Wis. - The displays at the Menominee Cultural Museum are numerous, and yet each one is unique.

Many of them were once held by Menominee families and assed down through generations. They're now at the museum for all to see.

"There's stories with each one of these pieces you see here in this museum, that go a long, long way to talk about what's important to the families and the tribe," Menominee Tribal Chairperson Douglas Cox said.

The eye goes first to a large carving.

"It's known as the Great Bear," Cox said.

It details the tribe's creation.

"The bear came out of the river, the mouth of the Menominee River." Cox said. "The bear would move up the river and establish the Menominee people."

The carving, done by a Menominee artist, represents that story. Other displays tell different tales.

"You can see here it's a lake sturgeon display," Cox said.

It's a fish that the Menominee people depended on for food and tools.

"Lake Sturgeon to the Menominee people is a really important fish in our history," Cox said.

Without the museum, the story of lake sturgeon and other parts of culture couldn't be so well-told.

"That's how we sustain our history and our culture - comes through our stories, our legend, and our language," Cox said. "All of that is part of our museum."

Across the grounds, the tribe's history continues to unfold at the logging museum.

"This is actually material from those days - you can see the plates, the cups," Cox said. "There's over 20,000 pieces in this collection. It's the largest collection in the United States of its kind."

The display is similar to how it would be many years ago.

"Amazing stuff that really puts a whole new meaning to the community and our tribal membership," Cox said.

It all makes for a physical connection to the past - set to be preserved well into the future.
 

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