Campus News

Graffiti found on sacred fire circle outside Dejope Hall

Graffiti was found early Monday morning on a fire circle outside Dejope Residence Hall. 

Image By: Mara Matovich

Graffiti reading “Columbus Rules 1492” was found on a sacred fire circle at Dejope Residence Hall Monday morning, according to a letter from Vice Provost for Student Life Lori Berquam sent to members of Wunk Sheek, an indigenous student group on campus.

According to Berquam, the graffiti, written in red paint, has already been removed.

Berquam called the act unacceptable and encouraged members of the organization to contact the Dean of Students Office and University Health Services if they need help processing the events.

Minwewe Valliere, a member of Wunk Sheek, said there has been “a long history of racism for Native Americans.” Valliere said she thinks this history should be acknowledged by celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day.

“I feel victimized by the vandalism because they encouraged Columbus's actions such as genocide, the intentional spreading of disease and rape by saying ‘Columbus rules 1492,’” Valliere said. “The timing and location of the vandalism sends a painful message to not only me but all of the native students who attend the university.”

While Wunk Sheek originally planned to hold a potluck dinner Monday night to celebrate Indigenous People's Day, Mariah Skenandore, a co-president of the club, said the group now plans to talk during their event about the vandalism.

“In light of the situation and based on what happened today, I think that our people need time to mourn,” Skenandore said. “I don’t think people understand the impact this has on us.”

In addition to the vandalism at Dejope, black spray paint was found on a large mural dedicated to Native Americans painted on a water pumping station in Monona Monday morning.

UW-Madison released a statement condemning the “criminal act” at Dejope. According to the statement, the university is “committed to finding out who did this and holding them accountable.”

“UW-Madison strongly condemns this current act and the clear bigotry behind it, particularly on a day that is so significant to Native American peoples and the loss of their cultures,” the university statement said. “Know that we remain invested in creating a campus community where every person feels welcome and able to succeed.”

UWPD is investigating the incident, according to the statement.

Oct. 9, 2017 at 9:06 p.m.: This story was updated to include details about a vandalism in Monona, as well as UW-Madison’s statement.

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