Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers Monday celebrated the newest set of dual-language highway signs unveiled for placement on state highways as part of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s (WisDOT) Dual-Language Sign Program.
The new signs indicate the Forest County Potawatomi Community’s Tribal boundaries and two creeks in both the Potawatomi and English languages.
“I am thrilled to witness the unveiling of the dual language signs on the highway,” said Forest County Potawatomi Chairman James Crawford.
“This marks a significant step in preserving our Potawatomi language and heritage and reflects our commitment to embracing and sharing our culture with all people,” Crawford said.
“I am so glad to see these new signs added to our roadways so that motorists can have a greater awareness of and appreciation for Forest County Potawatomi language, heritage, and land,” said Evers.
“This program, and our ongoing efforts to help bolster Indigenous language and cultural preservation, is a testament to our work as a state to strengthen our government-to-government relationships with the Native Nations,” Evers added.
The sign unveiling took place earlier Monday at the Forest County Potawatomi Community Center in Crandon and expands on a statewide dual-language sign initiative launched by WisDOT in 2021 to collaborate with Native Nations in Wisconsin to install road signs on Tribal lands in both English and Indigenous languages, officials said.
According to Evers, the Forest County Potawatomi Community is the sixth Tribe in Wisconsin to install dual-language signs, along with the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, Oneida Nation, Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin, and the Sokaogon Chippewa Community, Mole Lake Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
“We are honored to join the Forest County Potawatomi Community and offer these dual-language signs on their Tribal lands,” said WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson.
“Our partnerships with the Native Nations of Wisconsin are deeper than putting up highway signs. We are proud of the longstanding commitment to foster meaningful partnerships focused on our future by providing great care and consideration to our past,” Thompson added.
The new Tribal boundary signs feature the Forest County Potawatomi Tribal seal next to the Tribe’s name, “Bodwéwadmik.” Pronounced Bo-dwa-wah-meek, Bodwéwadmik is the traditional name for the reservation, which means “Keeper of the Fire.” The English language version of the highway sign is located beneath the Forest County Potawatomi Tribe version, officials said.
Evers noted Wisconsin is home to 12 Native Nations, including the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Forest County Potawatomi, Ho-Chunk Nation, Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, Oneida Nation, Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Sokaogon Chippewa Community, Mole Lake Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin, Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians, and Brothertown Indian Nation. Federally recognized Tribes are invited to learn more about the dual-language sign program and apply at the WisDOT website.