Two local businesses drop Native American names
The Winnebago is renamed The Bur Oak and Kickapoo Coffee becomes Wonderstate Coffee.
Two local businesses this week changed their names from appropriated names of Native American tribes.
On Tuesday, the owners of The Winnebago announced the the new name for their performance venue and cafe as “The Bur Oak.”
And on Thursday, Viroqua-based roasters Kickapoo Coffee rolled out their new name “Wonderstate Coffee.”
Changing the name of The Winnebago was originally scheduled to take place on Jan. 1, but licensing and contract issues caused delays. The onset of COVID-19 and its significant shock to the music industry also postponed any rebranding.
“Changing the name became a much bigger effort than we originally anticipated,” Bur Oak co-owner Jacob DeHaven says. “COVID has been one of the biggest challenges we have faced to date, but it gave us some valuable time to work through all the hurdles of following through with our commitment.”
Calls from community members to address the venue’s name began shortly after it opened in February 2019. “Winnebago” draws from the street name on which the venue is located. However, Winnebago is originally an Algonquin word “people of the filthy water,” a slur imposed on the Ho-Chunk people, from whom the the land, that is now Madison, was taken.
In contrast, “The Bur Oak” is an homage to the trees currently found throughout the Atwood neighborhood.
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We are amidst a season of great growth and understanding. Opening this venue has been a learning process the entire time as evidenced by our original name choice and the community dialogue that came afterwards enlightening us as to why that decision was in err. . It is fitting now that we continue the transition and officially announce a name change for the venue. . From now on we will be known as “The Bur Oak.” These great trees of our neighborhood shelter us and grow through all the seasons. We are inspired daily by their resilience and strength. They are old and wise and will be here when we are gone. . We hope our community roots continue to grow through presenting great music while also facilitating community interaction and positive action.
The owners of Kickapoo Coffee also made know the replacement of their problematic name.
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Coinciding with its rebrand, The Bur Oak will be launching a Social Justice Monday initiative, offering its space to local organizations and individuals who work on social justice issues.
“We see our contribution to the current movement being lending out our space and a microphone for people to express their ideas,” says part-owner Toffer Christensen.
The Bur Oak is set to resume shows on June 19, holding three shows a week with 25% capacity for the first month of operations.
Henry Michaels is an editorial intern for Madison Magazine.
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