Red Cliff, WisDOT Unveil State's First Dual-Language Tribal Boundary Sign

Official ‘Gaa-Miskwaabikaang’ sign signifies motorists are entering sovereign territory

November 3, 2021 – The Red Cliff Band and Wisconsin Department of Transportation held an unveiling ceremony to announce Wisconsin’s first dual-language road sign signifying tribal boundaries. The official WisDOT road sign features the word “Gaa-Miskwaabikaang” – the traditional Ojibwemowin name for the Red Cliff Reservation which means “the place where there is red rock cliffs.”

The unveiling kicks off an initiative around the state to include dual-language signage for all tribal communities. This sign informs motorists that not only are they in the Red Cliff community, but they’re also entering a sovereign territory with a rich history, culture, and ancestry.

“This is an historic day within our community, and to be recognized with Wisconsin’s first dual-language Tribal boundary sign is a tremendous honor,” said Red Cliff Chairman Christopher Boyd. “It’s important to recognize former Red Cliff Chairmen Bryan Bainbridge and Richard Peterson as this endeavor has been in the making for several years. Howah.”

Red Cliff Vice-Chairman Nathan Gordon has been at the forefront of this process since 2018 when Red Cliff administration proposed the idea to WisDOT staff.

“It is great to see this finally coming to light during this historic time for Red Cliff and other Tribal Nations across Wisconsin,” said Gordon. “It shows the Tribes and WisDOT building a stronger relationship while moving forward together.”

The Federal Highway Administration’s Glenn Fulkerson said WisDOT and other state agencies have a responsibility and are committed to this government-to-government relationship that respects tribal sovereignty and self-determination.

“Any time of year is a good time to think about how we can deepen and broaden the impact of these relationships,” said Fulkerson. “With November being an opportunity to observe Native American Heritage, we also thought the timing here was perfect.”

The ceremony featured comments from Dr. James Pete, Red Cliff Elder and Cultural Advisor; WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson; Red Cliff Chairman Christopher Boyd; Red Cliff’s Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Marvin Defoe; and FHWA Administrator Glenn Fulkerson. “Always Thundering” drum group also performed opening and closing Honor Songs as part of the ceremony.

The Red Cliff Tribal Council would like to say Chi-Miigwech to WisDOT for working with Red Cliff on this initiative to continue progressing towards honoring tribal sovereignty, and to all who played a role in making this happen.