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. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Mapping with Dr. Overstreet

Dolly Potts, Agricultural Research Intern
June 28, 2017

A group of the agricultural research Interns and the student Interns from SLC (Sustainability Leadership Cohort) attended a workshop with Dr. Overstreet, archeologist with Menominee tribe. He went over mapping archeological sites on the Menominee Reservation. Dr. Overstreet gave us a brief overview of the description of a square mile of land as determined by the US Quadrangle Scale. He gave us a brief history of the mapping of the Menominee Reservation and early archeological exploration. Armed with a map of the Chief Oshkosh Settlement we went into the woods to use our map reading skills. We looked for sites of ancient storage pits and cellars. Dr. Overstreet said some of the sites were house structures.

We were accompanied by Jeff Grignon, woodsman with the MTE (Menominee Tribal Enterprises). Jeff is an expert and historian of the Menominee Forest. One of Jeff’s jobs is to relocate markers and sites that were involved in the 2007 blowdown in the forest. Jeff gave us the history of the site we investigated along with information elders had given him. He is an excellent resource when going into the Menominee Forest like he says, “I live here”.

After coming out of the woods with the same number of people we went in with, we headed to the Menominee Museum garden. Dr. Overstreet has reconstructed a Menominee settlement pre-contact. He is growing a garden with Bear Island Flint corn like the plot at SDI. He is reconstructing a bark house structure after his first attempt caved in. Dr. Overstreet is using pre-contact implements to put in and maintain his garden. So everything went in with digging sticks and bone scapula hoes. Dr. Overstreet is using the mound technique with his plants. Each plant is planted on a mound with a furrow between each row. This is the way gardens were planted in ancient gardens of the Menominee.

The trip into the beautiful Menominee Forest was energizing and spiritually fulfilling. It was so green and enchanting. As fellow intern Adam says, “It was like the energy of people who lived there was still feeding the forest.” We were so grateful for the efforts and time of Dr. Overstreet and Jeff Grignon as our guides. 

Field Trip to sites of the Back 40 in Michigan

Dolly Potts, Agricultural Intern
June 21, 2017

On June, 20, I took a trip to the Back 40 Mine sites that are in controversy with Aquila Resources Inc. I accompanied a group with Dr. Overstreet who did the research for the sites. He is a consultant to the Menominee tribe. The trip included seeing a dance ring, mound site and garden beds that are part of the contested area. Aquila is trying to acquire ownership of the land where the sites are located. The garden beds are part of a village that the Menominee inhabited before moving to their current location.

Dr. Overstreet spoke at length about the Backlund Mounds and village area where several burial mounds have been located and mapped. The mounds were excavated by a Dr. Spaulding in the mid-1950s. Another mound group was on Michigan state land. Spaulding was required to submit reports of his findings to the state DNR. Rather than submit reports Spaulding used the Backlund site which was privately owned. More than a dozen individuals were recovered and are currently housed at the Archaeological Museum at the University of Michigan. After 1956 the area became a pine plantation. The site is now owned by Aquila whose current mining project is in dispute. Our group was not allowed access to the area, though in the past groups were able to tour the site.

The Dance Ring is always a spiritual event for me. I spoke of memories as a child being in a dance ring. I spoke of the importance of saving sites for future generations and how important it was to respect Mother Earth. I spoke about respect for ancestors how it was important to Native people that they not be disturbed. Most of all I talked about how important it was to teach our children to honor and respect the earth, to be grateful for the life it provides.

The day was wonderful, sunny and warm. I always enjoy the company of Dr. Overstreet, his knowledge of the sites completed the experience. I especially enjoyed listening to him tell us about the garden beds at our final site. I can almost see people tending the garden and other activities of village life. The day concluded with the trip home and the good feeling of the visit.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Bear Island Flint Corn

Dolly Potts, Agricultural Intern
24 May 2017

Zea mays (Bear Island Flint Corn) is the corn I will be helping with during my internship at SDI. I will be working on the Agricultural Research Project as an assistant. My duties include research and use of traditional Menominee gardening methods. My mentor is Rebecca Edler who is head of the project and is working with UW Extension. We have staked off the ground for the corn plot and have done a burn for it creating charcoal to add to random sections of the plot. Fish emulation, conventional fertilizer and non-treated will be the treatments to the other plots.  Following are some highlights of Bear Island Flint Corn.

Yellow, pink, white, red and blue striped kernels on 5 to 6 inch ears.
Rare and heirloom from 1925.
Maturation: 85 to 93 days
Corn is pollinated by the wind.

Originally domesticated by Mesoamericans, corn is a staple food with many other traditional uses. Home gardeners love to grow corn, and there are many varieties suited for different climates. The seeds are planted 1 inch deep in rows or clumps. Corn needs rich soil, full sun and adequate moisture to produce good ears. The plant grows six to 10 feet in height and 2 feet width.  

In celebration of planting our initial crop of Bear Island Flint corn for the Agricultural Research Project. We at SDI are honored to host Traditionalist Leslie Teller sharing the Green Man story. Please join us, bring a dish to pass and your dish bag to help the environment. No dish bag that’s fine, bring your appetite.

 SDI Planting Potluck

Where:  Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) Building
                      N 172 State Hwy 47/55   Keshena, Wisconsin
When: Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Time: 3:30 pm 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Nelson Institute 11th Annual Earth Day Conference

April 18, 1917
Reviewed by: Dolly Potts, 4/19/17

     I attended the 11th Annual Nelson Institute Earth Day Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. The conference was held April 18, 2017 in the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center a beautiful building designed by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The building sits on the shores of Lake Monona, the building’s design is spectacular. I was happy to have spent the day there.

     The first session that I attended was The Future of Food. The presenters talked about how we will feed a growing world.  Some of the technology and social issues these choices will affect are health and culture. Irwin Goldman, Professor and Chair, Horticulture, UW Madison presented about an issue surrounding the ownership of seeds. The Open Seed Source Initiative is an organization working towards freeing the seeds. The other presenters spoke of adapting to the social issues and population of the earth today.

     The second session I attended after lunch was Who Owns the Future? This session was about how today’s environmental decisions affect future generations. The moderator was Patty Lowe, Professor, Life Science Communication, UW-Madison, and LacCourte Oreilles Ojibwe. I liked Patty she led a very interesting session.

     What made this session so interesting was 18 year old, high school student, Victoria Barrett, Activist with Earth Guardians. She is part of the 21 plaintiff suit, Our Children Trust. It is a suit involving the rights of children to have a say in environmental quality and natural resource availability. The suit was declared to have merit and is in federal court. Victoria is from New York and spoke of how she became involved with the suit.

     I enjoyed the conference immensely there were a hall full of exhibits. I did some networking, and met some very interesting individuals. Everyone was involved with the environment and ecology. The presenters, whether they were students or professors, led the sessions were very well and were knowledgeable and committed to the subject.  

The two most significant responsibilities we have as a society are the education of our youth and the preservation of our Resources”, Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Global Indigeneity and Sustainability Seminar

November 28, 2016

One of the last seminars of the year was great one! I was able to hear from health professionals as well as a community member with his own perspective on this very important and urgent issue.

Alex Adams, MD, PhD, Montana State University presented about Partnerships for Health with American Indian Communities. She talked about the health issues affecting Native American communities in Wisconsin, specifically, Menominee. Childhood obesity prevention was the focus of the study because the Native American population had the highest percent among other minority groups. The factors that played a role in the Menominee community were lots of convenience stores, no grocery stores, no playgrounds, and no access to fresh produce. Using the Menominee community engagement meetings as a starting point in 2011, the Menominee people were able to implement programs to address childhood obesity. The community gardening program through Food Distribution is an example of how the Menominee people took action and began to work towards a healthy solution.

Guy Reiter, Menominee County Community Organizer, spoke of using language and cultural as an approach to community health. He talked about balancing our spiritual, mental, physical and emotional health. “Standing on my head, I see the strength of our community is in the roots”, Guy stated. One way he has addressed community health is implementing monthly Pre-contact feasts in the Menominee community focusing on traditional foods without preservatives. Another way, is sharing community knowledge by working to develop a calendar of seasonal events and happenings, such as, specific times of the year when most people are sick. This calendar will be yet another way to help the community to be healthy by tracking patterns. Having community dances is also an option Guy and fellow community members are considering in the near future.  So look forward to a jigging competition in South Branch.

Lori DiPrete Brown, UW Madison-Global Health Institute presented on, “Making the Local to Global Connection in Health and Well Being”. Lori worked with young girls in Honduras using a global health approach. Global health, Brown said contains collaborative research, health, and action in all environments. Global health works with populations, not individuals. Under the scope of global health are communicable disease, nutrition, environmental health and special populations. Trends include growing and shrinking populations, urban dwelling, diets high in sugar, fat, salt, and physical inactivity. Challenges in global health are AIDS, no clean water, inadequate bathrooms, obesity and sexual violence. Policy dealt with national security, trade, and inequality that is unethical and unjust. Lastly, Lori spoke about the girls in Honduras and of other women groups in Latin America and the inroads she has achieved with the groups.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Global Indigeneity and Sustainability Seminar

November 8, 2016

Filiberto Penados - Engaged Scholarship and Service Learning Director, Center for Engaged Learning Abroad, Belize
Paul Robbins - Director, Nelson Institute of Environmental Sciences, UW-Madison

Filiberto Penado’s topic: “Colonialism, Sustainability and Maya Land Rights: Challenges to the Real Plan” was about Belize’s colonization by the British. Belize is the only English speaking country in South America. Colonization brought about changes to the indigenous communities of Belize.

Filiberto told us a story of a farmer. The farmer had a relationship with the land, providing for his family. The Real Plan was an abundance of food. The farmer grew everything so his children did not have to want. The children grew, went to school, and go to the city to work. When they come back they do not like the food. This hurts the “Real Plan” there is no relationship with the land, the society loses sovereignty, and the importance of land rights to survive decline. Land rights and the importance of land mean survival. Land and the relationship with land is like “constructing a ship to navigate the rough seas of capitalism.”

Filiberto spent Tuesday at the College of Menominee Nation visiting with Sustainability Leaadership Cohort students and passing out information about studying abroad in Belize. I also spent time visiting with him comparing the similarity of native indigenous communities with those in Belize . We talked about our gardens. Our gardens are similar because we grow foods that are consumed by our families. Gardening is important to both of our communities.

Paul Robbins presented about “Producing wildlife: reconciling biodiversity, commodity production and labor rights in India. The Adivasi is the umbrella term for the heterogeneous set of ethnic and tribal groups considered the aboriginal postulation. The Adivasi inhabit the land area next to a region established for animal conservation. Through the laws of the Court of India the Adivasi cannot harvest, collect or graze on this land. The locals respond by not doing these activities if there is threat of officials finding out. In many cases local authorities look the other way. The practices of the Adivasi have not affected the animal population in any adverse way. The Adivasi go about their herding without hurting the animals in the hills. While a goat may be sacrificed to the jaguar the loss is not noticeable. Climate change has been the biggest factor in animal conservation. The droughts of the area are longer and when the monsoon season comes this causes land erosion. Loss of habitat and food sources then occur.