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Yesterday in La Crosse

Hiawatha got a reprieve, 20 years ago

Brad Williams

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The Big Indian statue was removed from La Crosse’s Riverside Park during the summer of 2020, but there was an effort to take it down in 2000.  Some native American residents of the area thought Hiawatha was stereotyped and offensive, and wanted it removed from the park.  The concrete man had been designed by local artist and teacher Anthony Zimmerhakl, and it was installed along the riverfront in October of 1961.  The eventual decision of a special study committee that year was to keep the statue.  

A future president appeared at the La Crosse Center that October.  George W. Bush campaigned La Crosse a few weeks before the election.  Bush would come to La Crosse three times during his administration…once at Logan High School, once at Loggers Stadium in Copeland Park, and once at Onalaska’s Omni Center.  The two main candidates for vice president in 2000, Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman, made separate stops in La Crosse during the last week of the campaign.  

That October, the La Crosse Community Theatre began a series of live radio dramas on WIZM, featuring local actors performing in front of an audience.  The first live show, airing the Saturday night before Halloween, was the H.G. Wells story “The Invisible Man.”  Later broadcasts included “Dracula,” “Frankenstein,” and “The War of the Worlds.”  The first of those live radio shows happened in October 2000, yesterday in La Crosse.    

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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