The USDA P.O.S.O.H. Project recently sponsored the Oskēh-Mamāceqtāwak Kēketōwak: Youth Speak Event Hosted by the College of Menominee Nation’s High School Sustainability Leadership Cohort (SLC)to showcase different opportunities for area youth and provide a platform for young people to have their voices heard. On Friday, Dec 6, 2013, about 100 people gathered to celebrate these youth voices, which took various shapes and forms.
Dr. Patty Loew, a UW-Madison professor who hails from Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and focuses outreach efforts on Native youth and digital story-telling, introduced the video/action research panel.She emphasized the importance of youth being at the heart of the story telling process and the power they had in speaking to many sustainability issues we face. She facilitated a group of Bad River youth in creating the appropriately named film, Protect Our Future.It spoke to the environmental and cultural threats from the proposed taconite mine in the Penokee Hills near Bad River’s Reservation in Northern Wisconsin.
“Your parents and grandparents may remember fighting mining issues with the Crandon Mine…Now we are facing another threat.” Dr. Loew said, noting the intergenerational commonality of the mining issue for tribes in Wisconsin. After viewing the student video, Mr. John Teller, Assistant Dean of Continuing Education and Menominee Language Liaison at the College of Menominee Nation commented, “That [Protect Our Future] video should be shown everywhere.It should get out far and wide. They showed some clips of other taconite mines in Minnesota, and it’s just ugly.”
The SLC high school students from Menominee Indian and Shawano High schools also introduced and showed their action research projects.Dylan Enno, Jaime Oshkeshquoam, Chelsey Haberl, and Susan Webster filmed, produced, and edited a film about obstacles to Menominee athletes reaching their full athletic potential called Work Hard Play Hard.Brandon Reiter, Mylia Olson, and Jade Oneil constructed some garden beds over the summer and showed pictures of their project (as well as serving tea from the dried plant leaves).Jacob Schwitzer, Nicholas Schwitzer, and Ania Smith created a film Nama’o: The Ancient Story Teller on the sturgeons’ relationship to the Menominee people in the past, present, and future.
The SLC fielded a variety of questions from the audience on their projects: what’s next, what were your greatest challenges and accomplishments, will you create more films, where are you sharing the films, etc? Though the group had bumps along the way, it was clear they had formed a unique bond and appreciated the rewards of project-based learning. Dylan Enno summed it up when he said, “We had our share of challenges…but in the end, we are like family.”