Monday, April 2, 2018

Traditional Ecological Knowledge

What is TEK and how can it be used with Western Science?

This was a question posed to me within my first week of interning at SDI. Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) is the evolving knowledge of indigenous people that has been acquired for thousands of years. It is based on their direct contact with the environment. After reading many articles and resources about TEK, it is obvious that it can complement today’s Western Science.

The Sustainability Leadership Cohort is there to help students understand the two complementary methods and put them into action to better understand the environment around them. My goal is to mentor the students in gaining that better understanding, while also learning myself. Education is key to understanding the world around us and by using TEK, important cultural values and knowledge will not be lost to modern day techniques. I was amazed at the amount of resources available for teaching TEK in a modern day environment. Over the past few weeks, I have been introduced to the POSOH project and the curriculum that they put out. Why are more local schools not using these?

As an aspiring educator, I hope to be able to incorporate curriculum like this into my classroom. As I progress through my internship, I realize the importance for education geared towards the students who are in my classroom. In the case of this area, where we have multiple tribes and cultures, we need to incorporate more Traditional Ecological Knowledge. More students will have the opportunity to enjoy learning about science and can make more connections to their environment. After all, we are all tied to Mother Earth.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Posoh, my name is Marissa Vele and I am the Sustainability Leadership Cohort Education Mentor for the 2018 program year. I live in Wittenberg with my husband-Curtis, daughter-Leikyn, and my dog named Aries. I hold an Associate’s Degree in Business Management from NTC. Currently, I am working towards my Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood/Middle Education and I am in my third semester at CMN. My plan is to teach within the area and give back to my community. In the meantime, I work as a special education paraprofessional at the Shawano Middle School. I enjoy working with a variety of different students and helping them succeed. I look forward to this internship because I can gain more experience working with students and gain more knowledge about SDI and what they do. I am grateful for this opportunity and look forward to the many experiences that I will have.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

FALCON 2017 – First American Land-Grant Consortium Conference and Poster Presentation, Washington D.C.

Dolly Potts, Agricultural Research Intern
Nov. 9, 2017

I traveled to Washington, D.C. on November 10 for my first First Americans Land-Grant Consortium (FALCON) conference to present my poster and presentation on traditional gardening and gathering. My trip proved to be a reminiscent and new experience for me. The last time I was in Washington D.C. was in 1978 with AIM (American Indian Movement) Longest Walk. The recent passing of long-time AIM activist, Dennis Banks made the trip very special. The walk was to make the country aware of the many broken treaties and the bad conditions on Indian reservations. Natives walked across the United States starting at Alcatraz in the San Francisco to Washington D.C. Everyone joined the walk from reservations along the route, I joined in Kansas. I visited some of the sites the group camped around while waiting for government officials to meet with us in 1978. The meeting never happened and the increased security in the nation's capital on this trip made me aware of how much things have changed.





The conference was great; we visited with a number of students who were involved in agricultural projects like ours. One of the groups was raising Bear Island Flint corn. Another had transitioned to raised beds and wanted to know more about the amendments we used in our garden. Everyone was very interested in how our project blended the traditional aspect with the scientific aspect. One of the participants talked about gathering as an important part of native culture. She gathered sixteen plants that were edible or had medicinal properties around the outside of the hotel. Remember, we were in downtown Washington, D.C.! She then proceeded to make a tea out of a few of the plants and it was delicious.






I left the conference proud of the College of Menominee Nation Sustainable Development Institute agricultural project growing Bear Island Flint Corn. I was very proud of the fact that the project has successfully blended indigenous science with western science. I am most proud of the fact that the project has brought back food that was grown and found in the ancient Menominee garden beds. The project has revitalized gathering practices and shared them with Menominee youth. This work has been a good step toward food sovereignty for the Menominee community.




Thursday, September 14, 2017

Update on Bear Island Flint Corn Research Plot

Dolly Potts, Agricultural Research Intern
Sept. 13, 2017


Fall is on the way and just around the corner is the harvest of the traditional agricultural research plot. Adam and I have been checking the plot at least three times a week. The stalks are drying and we get a peek at the kernels every now and then. Mostly when we find a cob the raccoons have taken down and chewed on. So our tally of raccoons has grown to eight. Thanks to Don Reiter, with the Environmental Services for live trapping the bandits and releasing them elsewhere. The damage was minimal with the raccoons getting twelve to fourteen ears.

Today we measured the moisture of the corn using a moisture reader a farmer would use. Adam picked a cob out of the plot to measure. The corn registered at 42% moisture content. We will pick the plot at 15% moisture content. The corn is shrinking and drying out on the stalks. A few of the ears are still green. They were planted later to fill in the spots that did not germinate. Adam, Rebecca and I have been discussing the harvest and working on the procedures for the testing. I braided a few of the cobs and hope to do some traditional harvesting braiding the corn.  In the meantime, Adam and I have been assembling the soil lab at SDI. I will write another blog about this project  soon.  


Tomorrow Adam, Rebecca and I leave for Minnesota to attend a Food Summit and Native American Nutrition conference. My poster on Traditional Gardening and Gathering Practices was accepted for a scholarship to the events. We are hoping to learn more about the traditional practices used to grow and harvest crops.  Our posters are on display in the atrium at CMN for viewing along with the rest of the summer interns’ projects. 

Adam holding corn
Rebecca Edler holding the moisture reader
Bear Island Flint corn braided




Monday, August 14, 2017

Menominee Language Summit 2017


 Dolly Potts, Agricultural Research Intern
August 14, 2017

The Language Summit was the one of the first efforts to bring the Menominee community together to discuss how to bring back the Menominee language as a primary means to communicate. The summit helped me to understand the history and the issues facing the Menominee community. The summit also discussed the sustainability and climate resiliency of the Menominee Nation. I gained a better understanding of how Native nations have built into their language and culture the keys to being resilient.

The two current administrators and teachers of the Menominee language told us about the history of and the efforts revitalizing the Menominee language. I enjoyed hearing the early efforts and how the elders used humor to cover the mistakes that were made. There were funny stories told of mispronunciations and communication today as well as the past. I learned about the “old Menominee” language and how efforts sometimes get confused as the “new Menominee”. I agree with the presenters that all efforts are good efforts. I left with a good feeling that the teachers of the Menominee language have the most sincere intentions to insure the Menominee language is preserved. I learned that the current language revitalization efforts include young teachers. The presenters gave us information on the “Language Nest”, babies in a Menominee language immersion program. What a wonderful thought, babies speaking their first words in their native language.

After lunch we had small group discussions of the language and how we could use the language to communicate issues like climate change. The group I participated in was very excited about using the language to teach kids. The group discussed how there would need to be parental involvement for the program’s success.  On the question of climate change, the group felt that the Menominee language provided the answers to resiliency.


There was a good turnout of both the community and administration at the Summit. Chris Caldwell, SDI Director, called the Summit the first annual. I enjoyed the opportunity to learn and discuss issues that are occurring in Tribal Nations across the country. Efforts to pass the language to young people was gallantly communicated in this conference by the Menominee Nation.






Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Update on the Bear Island Flint Corn Agricultural Research Plots

Dolly Potts, Agricultural Research Intern
July 25, 2017

The sixteen plots of Bear Island Flint Corn planted at College of Menominee Nation Sustainable Development Institute are coming along very well. There are over a thousand corn plants currently growing in the plot. The area is a scientific research project to find how and what Traditional Menominee amendments to the soil will affect the yield of the corn. The amendments were discovered in ancient garden plots on the Menominee reservation. The gardens were studied by archeologists exploring the forest sites of Menominee ancestors.

The corn was planted June 2, 2017 with the full moon. A traditional meal was served before planting, a Traditionalist told the “Green Man” story, relating how the Menominee received the gift of corn. It took a weekend of rain and the first sprouts showed. We lovingly called them “babies”. The Sustainable Leadership Cohort (SLC) students took temperature and moisture readings on the plot. We attended a workshop where one of CMN’s English professors presented how to write a scientific research paper. The college mathematician professor analyzed and presented points of the collected data at the workshop. The students use the data collected for a research paper.  The PhD intern from Brown University helped the students to write the scientific research paper. Growing the corn has been a group effort. Rebecca, Adam and I really appreciate the help with our project.


After the Fourth of July break the “babies” turned into “teen-agers” this is the stage the corn is now. We have tassels (when the top of the corn develops) and the next stage is the ears growing. Our first amendments have been applied to the soil on June 23. Another two week round of temperature and moisture testing is being conducted. The second round of amendments will occur in the next two weeks. We have been weeding the corn and nature has taken care of the rest.  








Thursday, July 20, 2017

Indigenous Planning Summer Institute

June 5-9, 2017

Written by: Dolly Potts, Agricultural Research Intern

     My week attending IPSI was a week of learning and enjoying new friendships. We stayed at the Whispering Pines Resort on Shawano Lake in Wisconsin. Most of our time was spent in the woods and on field trips to various Menominee Reservation and Oneida Nation sites. We shared cooking duties and our group was broken into the Bears, Sturgeons, and Eagles.   

      Ted Jojola, Indigenous Design & Planning Institute, University of New Mexico did a lecture on Digital Video Story Training. He assigned each group to do a three minute video for the last day. The topic of our video was “What does Indigenous Sustainability mean to you?” I was in the Sturgeon group who broke into two groups. The group I was in did a Water is Life theme with women as the focus.  So for the rest of the retreat we focused on taking pictures of water. We also did interviews of two people talking about water and what it meant to them. I liked that our field trips took on a purpose for obtaining information for our video.

     Each evening we would build a fire by the lakeside and recount our days activities, make s’mores, or present our ‘where I’m from’ poem activity. Good thing my roommates had earplugs on the list of things to bring. By the time I hit the bunk, I was happily exhausted. Whether going into the forest or visiting the Turtle School everything we seen was truly awe-inspiring. Creator has blessed the Northwoods of Wisconsin with beauty and grace.

     The best thing about the week was meeting and spending time with others from all over the country. We all shared our love for being Native and our tribe’s customs and heritage. We all wanted to learn more and practice sustainability concepts where we lived. We all had something to share with each other. The friendship and fellowship of the week was one of a lifetime. I am so fortunate for the opportunity to participate. Thank you to College of Menominee Nation Sustainable Development Institute.

     The last day was bittersweet, everyone was looking forward to their presentation, going home to begin summer with loved ones and sharing what we learned to our communities. I will use what I learned and hope that others benefit from the teachings I gave. Following are just some of the shots of the Indigenous Planning Summer Institute (IPSI) of 2017 fun we had.