The Winnebago to change name, owners apologize for appropriation of Native American culture

New name in effect Jan. 1, 2020
The Winnebago to change name, owners apologize for appropriation of Native American culture
Erica Krug
Co-owner Jacob DeHaven, manager Ashlee Miller and co-owner John DeHaven

The owners of The Winnebago announced Monday that they will be changing the name of their performance venue and cafe in Madison.

“For eight months, we have been welcoming people into a space with a name that isn’t ours to use, and we’re committed to righting this wrong,” the release says.

The release says they were trying to create a safe space that welcomed everyone and were intentional in booking, hiring and buying practices, but “didn’t put the same thought into naming our establishment.”

As first reported by Tone Madison, the problems with the name have been known since the venue first opened in February.

“The initial idea was to name it after where it is,” Co-owner John DeHaven says. “We are on Winnebago Street. We are an arts cafe. So the name was the Winnebago Arts Cafe.”

DeHaven says the venue has only been open for eight months, and according to a release he sent, “We have been intentional in our booking, hiring, and buying practices in an effort to satisfy this intention. Regretfully, we didn’t put the same thought into naming our establishment.”

DeHaven says feedback from the community and several employees pointed out that the name of the venue is inappropriate.

“It’s important that we are not taking ownership over things that are not ours. The name Winnebago is something I have no personal attachment to but that other people do. We’ve reached out to the Ho-Chunk nation, and we’d like their voice to be involved in this conversation more than ours.”

A spokesperson for the Ho-Chunk nation responded saying, “The Ho-Chunk nation is grateful that the venue recognized their naming was troublesome. We’ve been working on educating the community on the harms of stereotypes and race-based mascots … The venue was inspired to change their name, we support the effort and thank the venue for their consideration.”

The Winnebago to change name, owners apologize for appropriation of Native American culture

The release says this announcement is the start of the action they’re planning on taking to make this situation right.

“We would like to take this opportunity to formally apologize to The Ho-Chunk Nation, The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, and indigenous populations as a whole for our participation in the continuing appropriation of their cultures and names,” the release says.

The name change of The Winnebago will be in effect starting Jan. 1, 2020. DeHaven says he is meeting with the Alcohol License Review Committee on Nov. 20 to talk about the next steps to get the city and state to recognize the change.

“I hope that we are able to turn this mistake into something that’s positive for the community. If it’s something that can start a broader cultural conversation, I think that would be awesome,” DeHaven says.

If you would like to submit new name ideas to the owners, you can email them at info@thewinnebago.com, call them at 608-640-4380 or message them on Facebook.

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