‘We celebrate every day’: Menominee Indian small business owners observe Native American Heritage Month

From the Local 5 Digital Desk

KESHENA, Wis. (WFRV) – A Menominee Indian convenience store is doing more than selling gas, they’re supporting their community.

November is Native American Heritage Month. It is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories while acknowledging the important contributions of Native people, according to the National Congress of American Indians.

Joseph and his wife, Camay Lyons, along with his sister, Kimberly Dickinson, are the owners of Wolf River Express on Highway 47 in Keshena. The Lyons and Dickinson are apart of the Menominee Tribe and have lived on the Menominee Indian Reservation their entire lives.

A family member who was considering selling the business offered them the store in 2009. The Menominee tribe, being a small, tight-knit community, has allowed Lyons and Dickinson to develop many loyal customers over the years. They know the majority of their customers by name. The Lyons say it’s a gratifying feeling being small business owners in their community.

“It is a proud feeling knowing that we were able to successfully be in business for 11 years now. It is a small community and there’s not a whole lot of opportunities for indigenous people in this area to have businesses open up, so I think it’s a great feeling and great example for other indigenous people in the area,” says Camay Lyons.

Rhonda Madosh, a customer and member of the Menominee tribe, chooses to support Native small business owners not only during Native American Heritage Month, but all year.

“We celebrate every single day. It’s just our life. It’s us. It’s a beautiful thing. You’ll realize, Native American people, they’ve been here forever and they’re gonna be here forever.”

Lori Kinepoway, a cashier at the store, thinks its important indigenous people are being recognized while giving others an opportunity to learn about their culture.

“I think it’s important to celebrate us because they tried to take us away and have us not exist anymore, yet we’re still here generations later and we’re always gonna be here.”

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