Hennepin team members honored during ceremony returning sacred land
Two weeks ago, two members of our Hennepin Healthcare team – Lindsey King and her mother Laura King (shown 1st and 2nd above along with Governor Evers, Brian and Patty Brunette, and Lindsey’s son Matthew Marzolf) —took a walk with the governor of Wisconsin across sacred land that had been torn from their ancestors and that Lindsey’s great-grandfather spent his life fighting to reclaim. It was the end of a long journey, more than 100 years in the making, to return sacred burial grounds to the Anishinaabe people.
Ambulatory Float Pool nurse Lindsey and her mother, Laura, who is part of Hennepin Healthcare’s laboratory team, were honored guests at a ceremony where the City of Superior, Wisconsin formally returned land located at Wisconsin Point to the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. An event that would have been a dream realized for William “Bill” Burnette, Lindsey’s great-grandfather (shown right with his wife Veronica).
In the early 1900s, US Steel relocated almost 200 bodies from this sacred burial site to the local St. Francis Cemetery to make room for the infrastructure they were planning to build. However, in the end, US Steel never ended up building on the land.
“My great-grandfather and great-grandmother worked alongside different leaders within the community trying to get that land back in the hands of Fond Du Lac, but he was not successful before his death.”
Bill, who was Chairman of the Superior Indian Organization passed away in 1989 and is honored at the burial site with a sign that reads, “As I travel I hope I leave beautiful footsteps behind me.”
“I have been going up to that to that area for my entire life, and it’s just a special place, not only for myself but for my family, to my grandfather,” says Lindsey. “It touched my heart when I heard that this [land] was being gifted back. It felt like my grandfather’s life work of attempting to bring reconciliation between the community of Superior, Wisconsin and the Fond du Lac band of the Anishinaabe finally came to completion.”
On August 18, 2022, a signing took place at Black Bear Casino where the land was formally returned to the Fond du Lac nation. The governors of Minnesota and Wisconsin, Secretaries of State, Senators, the mayor of Superior, and many council leaders attended alongside the families who worked for generations for this outcome.
Later that same day after the signing, Lindsey and her family were asked to walk the governor of Wisconsin to the sacred grounds at Wisconsin Point. “We had the opportunity to speak with the governor about not allowing history to repeat itself for the negative so that the next generation can follow in our footsteps towards reconciliation.”
When describing her feelings on the day of the ceremony, Lindsey says she and her family were ecstatic.
“You got to see different people come together for one purpose. People got to express their hurts but also their joy of seeing it finally completed…there is this place of unity and justice, this place of trust being built again – a place of healing and a place of reconciliation. You got to see history made and you got to see new, beautiful footsteps being laid for our next generation to follow.”