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DANE COUNTY BOARD TAKES FIRST STEP TO SUPPORT “SQUAW BAY” NAME CHANGE

September 19, 2019
Sharon Corrigan, County Board Chair - 608.333.2285
County Board

Thursday 7 p.m. meeting includes memorial to former Supervisor Crawford-Gray

 

In a move to show proper respect and celebrate the ancestral lands of the Ho-Chunk Nation, the Dane County Board is considering a resolution in support of changing the name of the southeast corner of Lake Monona from Squaw Bay to Wicawak Bay.

 

The name change is among the items before the Board at its regular meeting in Room 201 of the City-County Building at 201 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in downtown Madison. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. and is open to the public.

 

The proposed name “Wicawak” is the word for muskrat in the Ho-Chunk language. The Ho-Chunk, formerly known as the Wisconsin Winnebago tribe, were known to excel as fur trappers when the lands surrounding the Madison chain of lakes were populated by native peoples. The muskrat, one animal often trapped, remains highly-revered and celebrated by the Ho-Chunk Nation.

 

In 2005, the Ho-Chunk Nation Traditional Court recommended renaming Squaw Bay and have recently renewed that request, prompting action from the Dane County Board to begin the process.

 

"This name change honors and celebrates the historical significance of the Ho-Chunk Nation in Dane County and Wisconsin,” says County Board Supervisor Tanya Buckingham (District 24, Monona). “It's high time we removed the outdated and inappropriate reference to this beautiful section of Lake Monona."

 

If approved by the Board, a request will be sent to the Dane County Department of Planning and Development to make an application to the Wisconsin Geographic Names Council by Oct. 1, 2019 to officially change the name of Squaw Bay to Wicawak Bay.

 

Also Thursday night, the Dane County Board will pay its respects to former Supervisor Eyvonne Crawford-Gray, the first African-American woman elected to the Board in 1990.

 

Crawford-Gray, who passed away on May 3 at age 63, was admired as a mother, activist, entrepreneur, neighbor and politician. She owned a restaurant and catering business in south Madison for over 20 years.

 

In addition to serving on the Dane County Board, Crawford-Gray held several positions with the State of Wisconsin, most with the Department of Public Instruction as an Education Specialist. She also served the community in many ways including as a member of the Allied Drive Neighborhood Center, the League of Women Voters, the Madison Community Block Grant Commission, the Madison Police Advisory Board and on the Education Committee for St. James School.

 

“It is befitting to recognize the legacy of a trailblazer who paved the way for so many people,” says Supervisor Sheila Stubbs (District 23, Madison). “She had passion for social justice, she made history by being elected to County Board and created first-time job opportunities for teens and adults through her catering business. I will always remember you and the love you gave.”

 

Finally, the Board will consider funding and final approvals for the “Valor on Washington,” an affordable housing project from Gorman & Company on county-owned land on the 1300 block of East Washington Avenue.

 

The county purchased the former Messner building in November 2015 with intentions of establishing a day resource center for the community’s homeless population. That plan ended when the county purchased a building at 615 E. Washington Ave. where the center is currently located. 

 

In September 2017, the county issued a request for proposals to redevelop the Messner site as a mixed-use affordable housing project. The RFP provided that the site would be leased to the developer at a nominal cost for a period of 99 years.

 

Gorman & Company was selected to partner with the county on the project and has since been awarded tax credit financing from the state of Wisconsin and affordable housing development funds from both the city of Madison and Dane County. The project features a mix of 59 affordable and market-rate units in a six story building. Some units will be specifically targeted for veteran families and others will be aimed at people with housing vouchers with support services provided by Lutheran Social Services, which also has an ownership interest. 

 

The Valor on Washington includes a partnership with Dryhootch to provide veteran services. Dryhootch is a nonprofit organization, formed with the mission of creating safe, comfortable places where veterans can gather informally in a drug- and alcohol-free environment.