Thursday, August 30, 2018

Intertribal Nursery Council 2018 Annual Meeting

By Adam LeMieux-SDI Phenology Research/Learning Path Intern

This summer I took an unexpected trip that helped open my eyes to the fun of working with plants and the dangers of climate change and wildfires. For the last few years, I have been a natural resources student at CMN. I finished my last class in May. That was also the time that I started an internship with the Sustainable Development Institute. I held off on doing an internship until after all my classes were completed because i thought that it would get in the way of studying for my classes. It was not until after I started the internship that I learned that the staff at SDI does everything that they can to work with a students school and work schedules. Now I wish i had signed up for an internship a couple years earlier. 

One day, about a month into my internship, I was called into my bosses office. It usually is not a good thing when one gets called into the bosses office. I instantly started trying to figure out what I did wrong. She surprised me by asking if I wanted to take a trip to Boise, Idaho to attend the Intertribal Nursery Council (INC) annual meeting. I was told that I would be going with  Menominee community member Jeff Grignon. I thought about it for about half a second before stating that I would love to go. I had a feeling that it would be a good learning experience. I had heard Jeff talk about traditional Menominee plant knowledge before and was interested in getting to know him better.

I was nervous when the day came to go on the trip. I had no idea what to expect when I got to Boise. I was running late so I ended up meeting and introducing myself to Jeff when I got on the plane. When our flight landed, I was shocked by the dry heat in Idaho. I had always thought that Idaho was all trees and mountains with temperatures that are similar to Wisconsin. I felt like I was in a desert when I stepped outside of the airport. It was like no environment that I have ever been in. The presentations didn’t start until the next day, but since I was tired from the flight, I decided to just relax in my room and go to bed early.

The next morning I woke up and got ready for the day. After getting ready, I went outside for a moment to admire the beautiful scenery that was near our hotel. Then I went into the meeting room and listened to the opening presentations. The meeting started with a welcome from Jeremy Pinto, the chairperson of INC, and a traditional prayer that was given by Ted Howard, the tribal chairman of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes. There was a plethora of information given by the presenters. I learned about a variety of things from the reintroduction of salmon into streams to hoop houses and wildfire recovery. After the morning presentations we took a lunch break then got ready for our first bus trip.

We all loaded up the bus for a ride to Table Rock which is just outside of Boise. This was the location of a wildfire that had occurred a few years ago. There, we met Martha Brabec from the Table Rock Restoration Project. She told us about the wildfire and the restoration efforts that have taken place. We then got back on the bus and took a ride to the Lucky Peak Nursery which is run by the US Forestry Service. There we were taught about how they run their greenhouses and we were shown the machinery that they use to separate and collect their seeds. When we were finished there, we went back to the hotel to end the day. Once again, it was a long day so I just stayed in my room and watched some tv.
The next day had a similar start as the day before. We went to the meeting room and listened to more presentations. I learned even more about such things as monarch butterflies and their migration habits, bee farms, and alternatives to pesticides. When the presentations were done, we boarded a bus and started our trip to the Duck Valley Indian Reservation, which is located on the border of Idaho and Nevada. On our way to the reservation we stopped at Bruneau Sand Dune State Park. There we saw the largest stationary sand dune in the world. It was a beautiful place that I would love to visit again in the future. 

Before we arrived at the reservation, we were told that they had just had a wildfire in the area only a few days earlier. It was shocking to see the entire hillside blackened from the fire. That sight gave me a new perspective on how dangerous wildfires can be. The grass and brush had burned to within a few feet of some of the peoples houses. I was grateful to our hosts since I knew they were still busy dealing with the aftermath of the fire. We toured their hoop houses and greenhouses. There we learned that much of the food that is grown is given back to the tribe. When the tour was done we were fed a traditional Shoshone-Paiute meal. The main course of the meal was elk. I had never eaten elk and was looking forward to trying it. I was not disappointed. Elk might be the best tasting meat that i have ever eaten. I just hope it does not take another 38 years for me to have it again. We then thanked our hosts and the woman that had prepared the meal for us. That was a meal that I will remember for a long time. When we boarded the bus again, I was not looking forward to the long ride back to the hotel, but it did not seem to take too long because I spent most of the time visiting with some people that I had met the day before.

The final day of the meeting was shorter than the other two. On that day, there was only a few hours of presentations. Those presentations mainly focused on climate change and  fighting the effects of drought. Once again they were all very informative presentations. The meeting was concluded around noon and Jeff and I checked out of the hotel and took the shuttle to the airport for the long flight home. This flight was not as bad because Jeff and I knew each other better and the conversation was easier. Plus, there was someone from the conference on the flight with us. It was late when we finally landed in Green Bay. By then I was ready to get home to my own bed.

Going on that trip was a great learning experience and I had a great time. Boise is a beautiful city and the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes were extremely welcoming and friendly. As was everyone at the conference. I would like to thank Chris Caldwell, Rebecca Edler, and all the staff at the Sustainable Development Institute for giving me the opportunity to represent them at the meeting. It was a trip that I will always remember.

Intertribal Nursery Council 2018 Annual Meeting

Written by: Jeff Grignon, Menominee Tribal Member
July 24-26, 2018

We touched down and stepped together into the wildfire haze and 100 degree heat of Idaho, for myself it was the type of warmth felt when visiting family you haven't seen in years. The Intertribal Nursery Council (INC) has had a ten year history with College of Menominee Nation (CMN) and the Menominee people. With their knowledge and inspiration through the years, the seeds of a greenhouse establishment on Menominee were planted. 

The conference was introduced by Jeremy Pinto, USDA Forest Service Greenhouse Manager, Moscow ID. The tireless outreach work Jeremy preforms to promote nursery/greenhouse establishment and operation on tribal lands across the country is reflected in the growing diversity of tribes represented at the conference. In 2012, the INC traveled to the CMN, to perform a workshop on greenhouse establishment here on Menominee.

The morning presentations were of restoration projects as varied as salmon habitat restoration to vegetation recovery in wildfire affected areas. Like Menominee, invasive plants are of great concern. For the dry western soils, cheat grass is a dominant invasive, crowding out native plants and increasing the intensity and spread of wildfire. In the afternoon, we visited Table Rock and the wildfire restoration project just outside the city limits.

Day two started with Tom Landis, Native Plant Nursery Consulting, Medford OR. Tom contributed to the 2012 Greenhouse workshop at CMN, he also co-authored the seven volume USDA Forest service Greenhouse establishment manual. I often remind Tom that he is the rock star of the nursery world. In his semi-retirement years, Tom promotes the establishment of Monarch butterfly habitat areas. Pollinator restoration continued to be highlighted with special recognition of the preservation of native bee species. In the afternoon, all participants were treated like family and invited to share a traditional dinner provided by host tribe, The Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of Owyhee, NV.

Day three presentations focused on the different online tools now available to nursery managers, the need for redefining seed zones across the country and grant opportunities.  In the final remarks, Jeremy expressed hope that Menominee would host this conference in the next couple of years.

On the flight home, thoughts turned to what makes this conference special. For Adam and myself, it is the commitment to bringing scientific knowledge and traditional knowledge together in the pursuit of restoring the damage we have caused to our natural environment. So, as we touched down into the warmth of family and familiar place, I received a text that CMN had been awarded a grant to establish a greenhouse on the campus.  Those seeds have now germinated.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Positive Youth Development Workshop

On Saturday, July 22, fellow SLC Mentor, Dolly Potts, and I attended the Positive Youth Development in Indian Country Workshop in Green Bay. This workshop was put on by Susan and Dan Ninham. The purpose of this workshop was to encourage and develop programs and strategies that reduce risks and strengthen Native American children. Educators, administrators, counselors, college students and others working with youth were encouraged to attend.

Each speaker brought a wealth of knowledge to the room. The topics discussed were; the importance of spirituality, indigenous food systems as a culture based curriculum, talking circles, indigenous ways of being, mentoring programs, and engaging native youth through rigor and culture. I personally learned so much from this workshop and I was also reaffirmed about strategies that I am already using when working with youth.

After attending the workshop, we have implemented some of the strategies with our SLC group and are seeing positive reactions. I will also be bringing this knowledge back to my school year job at a local middle school to hopefully incorporate when interacting with the students. I am truly grateful to have attended this workshop and will not let the knowledge learned go to waste. 

Friday, July 27, 2018

Agricultural Research Workshop

July 16-18, 2018 – College of Menominee Nation Sustainable Development Institute

Dolly Potts

The conference was introduced by Rebecca Edler, Sustainability Coordinator who teamed the SLC (Sustainability Leadership Cohort) students with the SDI Interns. After introductions Harlan Pygman, presented a basic overview of statistics. Harlan gave us terms and overviews of presenting data. We use these statistics in the research garden measuring the results of the amendments we use on our corn. After the break we toured the gardens at the SDI and had a tour of the soil lab. This was led by the interns to the project, Adam Schulz and Dolly Potts. Jamie Patton, Senior Outreach Specialist, University of Wisconsin Madison and Dr. Francisco Arriaga provided the afternoon presentation. Soil formation and morphology presented by Jamie and Francisco soil moisture, soil probe and using a penetrometer.

We spent day two at Menīkānaehkem where we would spend the morning of our day. Adam and fellow intern Jasmine Neosh cooked hominy, when done gave a cleaning and preserving presentation. The corn from the hominy making was gifted to Menīkānaehkem. Our tour was with Tony Brown who is the chairman of the Menīkānaehkem board.  He showed us the projects the group was doing and the dreams of the members. He gave a welcome and encouraged all of the students to return. We had lunch of the hominy made along with milkweed soup another traditional food.

The second part of day two was spent with Dr. David Overstreet the archaeologist for the Menominee tribe. Dr. Overstreet gave us a tour of the agricultural beds in the forest and the garden at the museum. Solomon Jim was one of the Menominee traditionalist who had and maintained garden beds in the reservation forest.  The agricultural beds in the forest were carbon dated to 750 A.D. very ancient. Dr. Overstreet and interns from SDI are excavating the beds.  While sifting through they found what may be corn kernels.

Day three was spent at UW-Madison Research Station. There we toured the fruit fields of apples and cherries. At the facility is the United States Potato Gene Bank, Max Martin is the director. He was very surprised to learn there is a road here on the Menominee reservation with his name. He was even more surprised Cat saw a bear with a potato in his mouth running across the road! At the bank is housed the seeds and sprouts of varieties of potatoes. It was very interesting learning the process involved with maintaining a potato gene bank. At the facility is a Master Gardener garden with the most beautiful flowers and plants presented in a breath-taking display. Our tour of this garden was too short! Another fun part of our day was picking cherries from an orchard. The final part was visiting the Door Peninsula Winery for an agricultural processing tour.

Indigenous Planning Summer Institute

June 13, 2018

Written by: Marissa Vele

We started off the Indigenous Planning Summer Institute (IPSI) on June 4, at Whispering Pines. This is were all interns and others involved with our projects got together to kick off the summer. We began the morning by having Luke Besaw give a prayer on the shores of the traditional wild ricing grounds of the Menominee. After the prayer, Gary Besaw spoke to our group and reminded all of us to, “do things in a good way”. That is an important message to think about as we all go our separate ways this summer as we work on our projects.

The projects we are working on will impact and reflect our community and those around it, so we must try to do things in a good way. Throughout the week, we were able to listen to a variety of speakers that talked about topics ranging from indigenous planning to plants in the forest. We were also able to visit Stockbridge Munsee  to see their gardens and museum, as well as taking a trip into the Menominee Forest. It was a great week long experience to get to know the fellow interns and their projects better. I am excited to see what the summer will bring!

IPSI (Indigenous Planning Summer Institute) 2018

June 11, 2018

Written by Dolly Potts

The Summer Institute was more of a local type this year. New was the Visualizing Forest Future, using virtual reality technology. This is the second year for Adam and I to do the research plot of Bear Island Flint corn. There are new people on the Plant Phenology both at the two sites and the Learning Path. Everyone is looking forward to a fun and exciting summer. If you are in the area stop by for a visit.

Monday, July 23, 2018

July SLC Update

The SLC has been in full swing and we are nearing the end of our summer program. July 16th kicked off a two-day Agricultural Workshop that was sponsored by SDI. All SLC students and SDI summer interns were invited to the workshop.  On our first day we learned about the importance of statistics and research followed by introductions on soil, soil types, and ways of measuring soil. We then headed into the Agricultural Research Plot at SDI to take a look at the Bear Island Flint Corn. This is the second year of that project to revitalize the traditional corn that the Menominee had. Workshop participants also got a look at the Agricultural Research Lab inside SDI and learned about the different soil tests that can be done to help members of the community.

Day two had us traveling to Menīkānaehkem where we learned more about the organization and their plans for the community. Their mission is to help rebuild the community and focus on wellness through various activities such as teaching lodges and feasts. We also got to see the Bear Island Flint Corn from last year being made into hominy. The seeds from last year's corn was shared with Menīkānaehkem and planted, so we were able to see the growing corn when we visited. For lunch we all received a treat of hull corn soup that came from the Bear Island Flint Corn. After lunch we headed out to the Culture Museum to see Dr. Overstreet and learn more about the demonstration garden he started there. This garden is not cultivated with any modern day tools as they are trying to be as historically accurate as possible. After the museum, we actually got to go out to one of the sites Dr. Overstreet, SDI interns, and SLC students are working on. There we learned more about the raised garden beds and research behind it. It is fascinating to see this work being done right in our backyards! The mosquitoes were vicious and we all truly appreciate the whole team of people that are out there working to learn more about the traditional practices and food of the Menominee. Everyone that went into the woods safely made it out, some with more bites than others.

For the SLC students the week was just getting started. The next two days students were working with elementary teachers from Menominee Tribal School to develop lessons to implement at an upcoming STEM family night in the fall. The students have various lessons ranging from corn to stars and are very excited to put their lessons into action. They now have some understanding on how to incorporate STEAM ideas into their cultural ways of knowing. Overall, our week went very well and we are looking forward to the last exciting weeks of the summer.