My family recently visited Indian Mounds Park in Rice Like, about 230 miles northwest of Madison in Barron County.
I was shocked when I realized a former Native American burial ground was now a city park. My children were also confused: Why would this not be sacred space? Would we not be outraged if we saw people bicycling through our cemetery, picnicking on a relative’s grave, fishing from the tomb of loved ones?
We were compelled to challenge the public to come forward and push for change. We can’t completely right our past wrongs, but the first steps are awareness and respect. We identify the injustices and we use our voices to lift up those who do not have a voice — especially Indigenous peoples.
My family stood at the perimeter of the holy ground and prayed a Jewish memorial prayer. But of course it was not enough. We left, each committing to work toward justice for Indigenous communities, opening our eyes wider to our beloved country’s substantial missteps. And now we challenge all of you to make things right.
Rabbi Avi S. Olitzky, St. Louis Park, Minnesota