Home Local News Fitchburg mayor and Common Council to honor the late great Native American...

Fitchburg mayor and Common Council to honor the late great Native American trailblazer Ada Deer

Ada Deer

The Fitchburg Common Council will host a special recognition for one of its most famous citizens on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 7:30 p.m., when it honors the late Native American trailblazer Ada Deer.

Fitchburg alder Joe Maldonado, along with alder Randy Udell, will introduce a proclamation to honor Deer, who Maldonado describes as “an incredible force for justice, local advocacy and tribal sovereignty.” Deer passed away on Aug. 15 of this year.

Deer was a social worker, lecturer, and former candidate for Wisconsin Secretary of State and United States Congress. She was the first member of the Menominee Tribe to graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and went on to become the first Native American to obtain a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University. Deer was also the first woman to serve as assistant secretary for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and was a leading force in restoring federal recognition to the Menominee Nation.

“We’re going to read a proclamation to honor Ada Deer, a Fitchburg resident who made a huge impact on her tribe and on Native communities throughout the United States. But she was also really involved in local, state, and national politics,” Maldonado tells Madison365. “She was very keyed into what was happening in Fitchburg in the legislature and was just kind of always willing to help progressive candidates run for office.”

Maldonado adds that he really got to know Deer when he first ran for Fitchburg Common Council and she endorsed his campaign.

“We had some really great conversations and I learned a lot from her over time, so I’m working with Randy Udell to introduce a proclamation just to honor her memory and legacy because we’re definitely proud that she was a Fitchburg resident,” Maldonado says.

Maldonado adds that Deer would always recommend that he read her book, Making a Difference: My Fight for Native Rights and Social Justice, and that he was very impressed with what she wrote.

“The book is really good. It lays out her history from growing up to her advocacy for her tribe to her work as a social worker working in community centers. And then her political campaigns on a state and national level,” Maldonado says. “Ada Deer is just a phenomenal, amazing, accomplished woman and I’m really proud to have gotten to know her.”

At Tuesday night’s Fitchburg Common Council meeting, Fitchburg Mayor Julia Arata Fratta will also deliver a proclamation honoring Hispanic Heritage Month.  

“We would love to get as many residents of Fitchburg from the Latinx community, along with allies, to come and celebrate with us that night whether it be virtual or in-person,” Maldonado says. “Dane County is rapidly diversifying and Fitchburg is at the center of that … it’s our most diverse municipality in the county and Latinos are 13.2 percent of the population in Fitchburg. 

“That diversity and that representation makes our city really just so culturally rich and a great place to be and I really value living here for that,” he adds. “It really adds value to my life. I appreciate being a diverse community.”

Both the Ada Deer proclamation and the Hispanic Heritage Month proclamation will be read on Tuesday night’s Fitchburg Common Council meeting in the Frances Huntley-Cooper Council Chambers, Fitchburg City Hall, 5520 Lacy Road.