Wisconsin Needs French
Evidence of Wisconsin’s rich French heritage can be seen simply by glancing at the map to the left (and the French place names here are just a sampling!). But, the contributions of French to Wisconsin are not limited to our geography nor to our history: French still maintains a strong presence here in Wisconsin and has a great deal to offer us in a number of ways. A key indication of the value we continue to place in our French ties is Milwaukee’s annual Bastille Day festival, a celebration unrivalled in the United States. Wisconsinites who study French can take pride in carrying forward a longstanding tradition while reaping the benefits of language study, so important in our changing world. They increase their cultural awareness, develop stronger cognitive and problem-solving skills, and learn to communicate more effectively. They are also able to connect meaningfully with a broad range of communities of French speakers, here in Wisconsin and abroad, thereby gaining the potential to help strengthen Wisconsin’s ties to its current (and future!) trading partners.
A few statistics concerning the importance of learning languages (and French in particular):
Currently about 4% of Wisconsinites are foreign-born, a number that is increasing, and about 6% of Wisconsin citizens (around 370,000) do not speak English at home. Wisconsin has nearly 6,000 speakers of French as a native language (with about 2,500 living in the city of Milwaukee). In keeping with the map above, it is not surprising that Wisconsin boasts many French family names and many Wisconsin families claim a French-speaking heritage as well. The 2003-2004 Wisconsin Blue Book (based on the 2000 census), reports the following ancestries:
French 205,975 Swiss 59,090 Belgian 57,808
And these numbers probably do not account for many people with French-Canadian ancestry.
Canada is by far Wisconsin’s largest trading partner: exports to Canada in 2003 reached $4,349,326,335, a significant portion going to Quebec, where 80% of the population speaks French as a native language. According to a report by Quebec’s Chamber of Commerce published in 2000, Wisconsin ranks fifth out of twelve states that make up Quebec’s important market with the Midwest. Among Wisconsin’s top 25 international trading partners, France ranked 7th in 2003, and when we take into account Wisconsin’s exports to other French-speaking destinations in Europe, the rank rises to 4th, ahead of China and just behind Mexico. Wisconsin also exports to many other French-speaking countries in other parts of the world. Senegal, for example, is a growing market for Wisconsin and an increasing number of Senegalese currently live in our state. In 2002, 3.6% of Wisconsin jobs were held in foreign-owned companies. A 2001 report by the US Dept. of Commerce (see link below) noted: “Wisconsin’s economy is export-dependent, with export sales of $2,024 for every state resident. Nearly 192,000 Wisconsin jobs depend on exports of manufactured goods. 5,780 companies—including 4,816 small and medium-sized businesses—export from Wisconsin.”
More detailed Wisconsin trade information can be found at the following sites:
Total U.S. Exports (Origin of Movement) via Wisconsin - Top 25 Countries Based on 2003 Dollar Value
Wisconsin's Benefits from Exports (US Dept. of Commerce)
More information on Wisconsin’s multiple connections to French can be found on an exciting and exceptional site:
Wisconsin's French Connections
PROMOTING FRENCH IN WISCONSIN:
ALLIANCE FRANÇAISE DE MILWAUKEE
1800 E. Capitol Drive
SHOREWOOD, WI 53211
Tel. (414) 964-3855
Fax (414) 964-5153
Director: Anne HERISSON-LEPLAE
ALLIANCE FRANCAISE DE GREATER MADISON
Elizabeth A. HULICK
633 North Frances Street
MADISON, WI 53703
Fax. 608-256-4222 E-mail:
Southeast Wisconsin Academic Alliance In French (an association of K-16+ teachers of French)
Wisconsin Association of Foreign Language Teachers
Margaret Schmidt Dess, President
Jean Mano, Secretary-Treasurer
P.O. Box 265
Franksville, WI 53126
FRENCH LANGUAGE LEARNING IN WISCONSIN
Wisconsin has many strong K-16+ language learning and teaching programs that benefit from the contributions of innovative, dynamic and dedicated French educators. The Wisconsin Association of Foreign Language Teachers (WAFLT) is one of the finest of its kind in the country and its annual conference attracts teachers from all over Wisconsin and from several Midwestern states. Wisconsin’s French heritage and reputation for excellence in French language instruction have led to Milwaukee being chosen to host the annual convention of the American Association of Teachers of French in 2006. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, with the help of able leadership and enthusiastic participation from skilled and committed instructors, has developed content area standards for foreign languages that serve as a model for other states. Immersion schools, including a successful French immersion school, were established in Milwaukee in the 1970’s and are nationally renowned. The two Alliance Française organizations in Wisconsin have very active memberships and contribute strongly to their communities. Despite the many successes of language education in Wisconsin, language programs are all too often in danger due to budget concerns. As we have seen, to maintain and improve the economic health of our state and to support the rich diversity of our communities, we must ensure that language programs flourish.
SOME FRENCH MEDIA IN WISCONSIN
TV5 from Dish Network and others: http://www.tv5.org/
French Focus / France Feelings (Madison, WI. MMDS, Ch. 19)
French Focus / France Feelings (Milwaukee, WI. MPS, Ch. 13)
Canapé: A TV Show on Current French Cultural Events (Madison, WI. MMDS, Ch. 19)
Canapé: A TV Show on Current French Cultural Events (Milwaukee, WI. MPS, Ch. 13)
Agenda Culturel Wisconsin (France-Amérique)
FRENCH MOMENTS IN WISCONSIN HISTORY
Although American Indians lived in the area of present-day Wisconsin for several thousand years before the arrival of the French – numbering about 20,000 when the French arrived – the written history of the state began with the accounts of French explorers.
A few important dates:
1634 - Jean Nicolet, a native of France who landed at Green Bay, was the first known European to reach Wisconsin. He was seeking Northwest Passage to China.
1654-59 - Pierre Esprit Radisson and Médart Chouart des Groseilliers: First of the fur traders in Wisconsin.
1660 - French trading post and Roman Catholic mission were established near present-day Ashland.
1661 - Father René Ménard: First missionary to Wisconsin Indians.
1665 - Father Claude Allouez founded mission at La Pointe.
1666 - Nicholas Perrot opened fur trade with Wisconsin Indians.
1672 - Father Allouez and Father Louis André built St. François Xavier mission at De Pere.
1673 – 1673- French explorer Louis Joliet and Jesuit priest Jacques Marquette travel the Fox-Wisconsin waterways connecting the Great Lakes with the Mississippi.
1678 - Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut (Duluth) explored western end of Lake Superior.
1685 - Perrot made Commandant of the West.
1690 - Perrot discovered lead mines in Wisconsin and Iowa.
1755 - Wisconsin Indians, under Charles Langlade, helped defeat British General Braddock.
1763 - Treaty of Paris.
1764 - Charles Langlade settled at Green Bay. First permanent settlement.
1774 - Quebec Act makes Wisconsin a part of Province of Quebec.
1781 - Traditional date of settlement at Prairie du Chien.
1783 - Second Treaty of Paris.
1795 – 1795- Jacques Vieau established trading posts at Kewaunee, Manitowoc and Sheboygan. Made headquarters at Milwaukee.
1818 - Solomon Juneau bought trading post of Jacques Vieau at Milwaukee.
1845 - Mormon settlement at Vorée (Burlington).
1846 – Solomon Juneau becomes the first Mayor of Milwaukee.
1918 - Alliance Française established in Milwaukee.
SITES FOR FINDING MORE
FRENCH MOMENTS IN WISCONSIN HISTORY:
Huguenot Society of Wisconsin
BELGIUM-ROOTS Project USA Wisconsin
French Canadian/Acadian Genealogists of Wisconsin
The French language in America (1885 article, in Wisconsin State Journal about Chippewa Falls)
Upper Wisconsin in History & Romance - No. 18 French Take Possession of Wisconsin
Mme Severin Recalls Early French People in Fond du Lac...
Documents philatéliques relatifs à Jean Nicolet
Odd Wisconsin Archive - When Wisconsin Was a Corner of New France
When Wisconsin Was New France (PortalWisconsin.org)
FORTIFICATIONS BUILT BY FRANCE (in Wisconsin)
Wisconsin Historical Society
Civilisation.ca - virtual museum of New France [search for "Wisconsin"]
Center for French Colonial Studies
Fur Trade (Turning Points in Wisconsin History)
AND OF COURSE, LET’S NOT
FORGET FRENCH FOOD!
French Restaurants in the Milwaukee Area:
Trocadero: café, bar, tabac
Bartolotta's Lake Park Bistro
Elliot's Bistro (2321 N. Murray Place)
Jacques’ French Cafe-Deli Market 1101 S 2nd St Milwaukee WI 53204 (414-672-1040)
PROMINENT PEOPLE IN WISCONSIN WHO SPEAK FRENCH
John Downey (Composer)
Jim Doyle (Wisconsin Governor)
Kurt Ollmann (Opera singer)
Robyn Pluer (Singer)
David Riemer (Former Budget Director, WI Department of Administration)
Daniel Sherman (Director, Center for 21st Century Studies, UW-Milwaukee)
Kevin Soucie (Former State legislator)
If you know of any prominent Wisconsinites who have studied French, or if you have any other information that you think would enhance this advocacy site, please send an e-mail message to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Merci!