Veteran’s Museum teams up with Smithsonian to showcase Indigenous veterans’ stories

Wisconsin Veterans Museum to re-open in July

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Veterans Museum announced Thursday a new collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution that will highlight stories from Wisconsin’s Indigenous veterans who’ve served in the U.S. military.

Throughout the course of the year-long “Fostering Critical Conversations with Our Communities” pilot program, Wisconsin Veterans Museum staff members will work with eight other organizations chosen by the Smithsonian to develop deeper relationships with their local communities and help facilitate conversations about Wisconsin’s Indigenous nations.

Members from each organization will work closely with each other to develop and implement a plan to expand conversations about Indigenous veterans who served in the U.S. military.

“We know there are more stories to tell of our Indigenous nations in the state, and we need to do better to understand the people, recognize their service, and preserve their stories. With that understanding, two years ago the staff added as a strategic priority outreach and relationship development with underrepresented populations in our community. We are honored and excited to begin this project to tell the full spectrum of stories of Wisconsin’s veterans,” said Museum Director Chris Kolakowski.

Wisconsin Veterans Museum officials said this program will also help the organization amplify voices of Black, Latinx, Asian, LGBTQ+, and the women’s veterans community throughout the state.

“Encouraging and supporting these kinds of essential conversations that bridge and connect communities and strengthen connections between people is key to our strategic goals,” said Myriam Springuel, Director of SITES and Smithsonian Affiliations.

Members of each organization will go through monthly trainings that address community understanding; learning about trauma, healing and memorialization; building relationships; understanding an organization’s impacts; and more. The trainings will be provided by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience and the Smithsonian.