On Thursday, Oct. 14, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire – Barron County in Rice Lake will host two programs honoring Indigenous people: a “Thursdays at the U” presentation, followed by an Indigenous Peoples Celebration. Both events are free and open to the public.

Dr. Renee Gralewicz, an enrolled member of and Peacemaker for the Brothertown Indian Nation and a descendant of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans, will present “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives” as part of the “Thursdays at the U” series from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in the Blue Hills Lecture Hall, Room 234 of Ritzinger Hall.

Homicide is the third leading cause of death among American Indian and Alaska Native women between the ages of 10 and 24. According to a 2016 report from the National Institute of Justice , 84% of American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence in their lifetime, more than half of whom have experienced sexual violence. In 2016, the National Crime Information Center reported nearly 6,000 cases of missing American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls, but the U.S. Department of Justice was tracking only about 100 cases.

Gralewicz contends that these types of violence suffered by Indigenous women are not accidental; they happen by design. She will share a short history of U.S.-Indigenous relationships and how components of those continue to affect lives in the present. The presentation will conclude with a discussion of actions currently underway by both grassroots organizations and the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force, of which she is a member.

Gralewicz’s journey started in Milwaukee, but a tour with the U.S. Army led her to sites and cultures around the globe. She retired as a major, earned a Ph.D. in anthropology and was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to conduct research with Canadian First Nations. After retiring from more than 20 years of university teaching, Gralewicz’s interests are now centered on issues related to missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit peoples.

At the conclusion of the “Thursdays at the U” program, an Indigenous Peoples Celebration will take place from 1:30-3 p.m. in the UW-Eau Claire – Barron County Commons. The event will include a celebration of the permanent display of the 12 Tribal Nation flags of Wisconsin, Native refreshments and drumming by a Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School group.

After a tobacco smudging, the following featured speakers will share their perspectives: Paul DeMain, CEO of Indian Country Communications, editor of News From Indian Country and a member of the Oneida Nation; Jon Fritz, vice president of the UW-Eau Claire – Barron County Student Government Association, president of the Veterans Club and a descendent of Navajo and Apache grandparents; and Edmund Manydeeds, an Eau Claire attorney, UW System Board of Regents president and member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The event will conclude with an introduction of each flag.

Please note: At all UW-Eau Claire campuses, everyone is required to wear a mask indoors, including presenters.

The “Thursdays at the U” series is supported by the UW-Eau Claire – Barron County Foundation. For more information about the series, contact Dr. Linda Tollefsrud, professor emeritus of psychology, UW Colleges, at tollefla@uwec.edu.

For more information about the Indigenous Peoples Celebration, contact Ali Liffrig, UW-Eau Claire – Barron County’s international program coordinator and interim student life and events coordinator, at liffriga@uwec.edu.