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UWSP officials at work on memorial for re-discovered indigenous burial ground

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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WAOW) -- Until this year, most people at UWSP didn't know about the Native Americans buried beneath their feet. One group is trying to change that.

University officials say they've always known the campus was built on Ho-Chunk land, and work to honor that. Recently, they've discovered part of campus is built on top of a Native American burial ground.

Iris Carufel is not only the coordinator of the Native American Center here on campus, she also attended school here, as did her grandmother. She said she was shocked to find this out.

"People that may have been related to some of our friends or families were buried here," Carufel said.

The site was previously discovered in the 1930s, but forgotten until recently.

Now Carufel and other officials are part of a group working to get the message out there.

"We have to reengage everyone in this community to also be aware of this knowledge."

Talks are now in the works to build a memorial on the site of the burial ground. Carufel said the memorial would be created by a Native American artist, and would be accompanied by a campus celebration once it is installed.

Bode Rasmussen, a freshman at UWSP, said he thinks a memorial is necessary.

"I think it's a good idea. I think it would be cool to do something for that if it's true," he said.

Carufel said this is just part of an ongoing campaign to make sure history isn't forgotten.

"There can be positive things that happen once we all collectively agree that [bad things] happened and then we can build a better future for our students, staff and faculty," she said.

Carufel said she hopes the monument will be completed within a year.

Natalie Sopyla

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