Oct 09

Join us for the SDI Harvest Potluck

SDI Harvest Potluck

In celebration of harvesting our crop of Bear Island Flint Corn grown for the Agricultural Research Project. We at SDI are honored to host a Potluck Harvest Feast. Giving thanks for a wonderful harvest.

Where:  Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) Building

N 172 State Hwy 47/55   Keshena, Wisconsin

When: Friday – October 20, 2017

Time: 3:30 pm

Bring a plate to pass, your own dishes, and an appetite for good food!


Permanent link to this article: http://sustainabledevelopmentinstitute.org/2017/10/4413/

Oct 09

Harvesting Bear Island Flint Research Corn Plot

Written by: Dolly Potts, Agricultural Research Specialist


We decided to harvest the Research Corn plot before the raccoons got away with any more of the harvest. It was a mild day for the harvest, the sun was out and it was warm. Each of the plots are composed of four rows equaling sixteen plots in total. The two middle rows of each plot are the research rows these are the rows that are counted. The two outer rows of each plot are the buffer rows and will be used for seed. The amendments are biochar (burned wood), fish emulsion (simulating muck), synthetic fertilizer (organic urea), nothing (left untreated). We counted the number of plants for each of the research rows and ears gathered. We also kept track of how many were taken by raccoons. Only the buffer rows were gathered this round.


The research rows harvested will be dried and counted for the yield of produced kernels. We will weigh them and count the yield for each of the amendments. The stalks, husks and cobs will also be weighed to track the biomass of the plot. All this will be done in our Agriculture Research Lab that is being set up and utilized at SDI.

The data will be analyzed by CMN mathematician, Harlan Pygman and the results will be documented in a research paper written by the Sustainability Leadership Cohort. We are very excited about this part of the project. Having been a part of such notable research has been a joy. There is still more work to do and we will keep the college and community up to date.

The buffer rows have been gathered and opened for drying. Rebecca commented, “Opening the corn husks was like opening a present.” Each of the ears was differently, wonderful. One of the techniques I learned from our Red Lake food summit is to hang the ears to dry with pie pans on them so no critters can get to them. Another was to take the seed from the middle of the most perfect ears. Since they all look perfect to us that will be a hard task. A few of the ears were saved for braiding, which is another method we learned from Red Lake. We learned how to make hominy out of the corn using ashes in the procedure. We hope to demonstrate making hominy at our harvest feast.

It has been a good season for the Bear Island Flint Research Corn Plot. Staff, students, interns and community have contributed to the success. We began the growing season with a planting feast and storytelling. We are going to end with a harvest feast, thanking Creator for the gift of the corn. It is with this tradition that we carry on all that is good and has special value to our native people. So please join us to celebrate our harvest potluck on Friday, October 20 at Sustainable Development Institute.


Permanent link to this article: http://sustainabledevelopmentinstitute.org/2017/10/harvesting-bear-island-flint-research-corn-plot/

Oct 09

Red Lake Food Summit and Second Annual Conference on Native American Nutrition 2017

Written by: Dolly Potts, Agricultural Research Specialist


Adam, Rebecca and I went to Red Lake and Minneapolis, Minnesota to attend conferences on indigenous food sovereignty. Our first stop was the Red Lake Nation Food Summit held at the Red Lake Nation College. We were greeted by our hosts the community of Red Lake. The first presentation I attended was with Dr. Martin Reinhart, who presented “Decolonizing the Diet”. Dr. Reinhart conducted a yearlong study researching the effects of an indigenous high protein diet that included 25 diverse participants.

The participants’ diet was required to be 25-100% indigenous food based. They kept a journal, exercised regularly and received quarterly health checks. Methods of food access they used included hunting, fishing, gathering and sharing. They helped each other by sharing knowledge with cooking demos, online journals, and potlucks. At the end of the study most experienced weight loss, girth reduction, BMI reduction with lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Dr. Reinhart worked with local suppliers like the fish market to smoke more fish so the participants would have a supply of the decolonized diet.

David Manuel was our guide for the Red Lake Food Tour, which highlighted places connected to the local foods initiative. Some of the places were, Gitigaanike Training Garden, Red Lake Nation Foods, and Red Lake Fishery. The wild rice processing plant and the fishery were my favorites. I have never seen so much wild rice and the smell was wonderful. Locals net all of the fish at the Fishery and I find that very interesting. Each person is allowed to bring in 100 fish and the fishery will buy it from them by the pound. The garden was an abandoned nursery for pine trees. The tribe refurbished the nursery to the present site that includes a year-round greenhouse.

There is a community garden in each of the four villages. The communities are encouraged to eat fresh grown foods and workshops with ideas on how to prepare garden dishes are held regularly. Each mealtime at the summit was prepared by the local men and women. Featured dishes were wild rice, greens, fish, moose, venison, and swamp tea (a local drink) prepared from what was available locally.


Saturday, our last day of the Red Lake Summit was the best. The day was full of food demonstrations of hominy, maple sugar, canning, wild rice, and corn husk dolls, outside bread, smoked fish, natural teas, and how to snare a rabbit. Demonstrations were held outside at the Red Lake Powwow Grounds not far from the college. The demonstrators cooked on an open fire using traditional methods and food that obtained from the area. Samples were given, although, I sampled as much as I could hold. Needless to say, everything was delicious, cooking on the open fire made everything taste even more scrumptious. All of the demonstrators were very generous sharing recipes and tips on how to prepare the food. We made a good friend “Jack” who also grew Flint Corn, his tips are proving very helpful with our harvest at SDI.

We rolled out of Red Lake with full bellies and looking forward to the next conference with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community at Mystic Lake Casino, Minneapolis Minnesota. The Second Annual Conference on Native American Nutrition featured topics on the healthfulness of traditional foods. Topics such as, Food is Medicine, Indigenous Foods Improve Health, and Transformational Eating: A Ceremony of Gratitude were just a few of the topics and speakers we enjoyed listening to. All the speakers shared the same message; traditional native foods are healthy for native peoples. Going forward more tribes should encourage their people to eat what is available to them within their homelands.

By going back to a traditional diets and food ways, native people regain good health and welfare. I presented my poster on Traditional Gardening and Gathering Practices to Provide Healthy Food Options at the Shakopee conference. The poster was received very well with many questions about our research and corn plot. There were many posters displayed including, The Sioux Chef, a catering business that features native foods, to those who presented their strategies to change diets of their community to healthy indigenous diets. The conference was very informative and had a diverse list of attendees. A group of young women participated in the Next Generation Youth Panel, spoke about their gardening project involving school age youth. Our time ended the last night with “Supaman”, a native rapper with a no drugs and alcohol message for young people. The last stop of our trip was to a Minnesota Wildlife Refuge Center where we took a tour and visited the phenology trail. I liked the center it was very informative and community friendly.

Permanent link to this article: http://sustainabledevelopmentinstitute.org/2017/10/4387/

Sep 25

Tribal Climate Workshop


Registration is now open for the Tribal Climate workshop! The University of Michigan’s Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering and at the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments (GLISA) office has partnered with Inter-tribal Council of Michigan to facilitate this climate change discussion with Michigan Tribes.

This is a gathering of tribal staff to share climate vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning strategies, explore adaptation planning tools for extreme precipitation events, and discuss the impacts of climate change on the role of tribal women as educators and caretakers of the water. Here we hope to share stories of climate change observations, struggles after extreme weather events, and adaptation strategies. The workshop will be held at the Bay Mills Community College (west campus building) along the shores of Lake Superior.
To register for this free event, please visit this link.

For more information, please contact Frank Marsik, GLISA(734-763-5369, marsik@umich.edu),  Robin Clark, ITCMI (906-632-6896, rclark@itcmi.org), or Aubrey Maccoux-LeDuc (906-248-8652, amaccoux-leduc@baymills.org )

Permanent link to this article: http://sustainabledevelopmentinstitute.org/2017/09/tribal-climate-workshop/

Sep 14

Update on Bear Island Flint Corn Research Plot

Braided Bear Island Flint Corn

Written by: 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.

Rebecca Edler with the moisture reader

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.

Permanent link to this article: http://sustainabledevelopmentinstitute.org/2017/09/update-on-bear-island-flint-corn-research-plot/

Sep 13

SDI Welcomes New Staff

Scott Kalafatis


Dr. Scott Kalafatis started a year in residence at the Sustainable Development Institute in August. He is postdoctoral researcher sponsored by a National Science Foundation grant that SDI shares in partnership with researchers at Michigan State University.

Scott will be continuing the work he started this past year at Michigan State studying collaborations between Federally-Recognized Native American Tribes and climate scientists that are intended to help Tribes throughout the United States deal with climate change. The goal of this work is to understand these collaborations better so that they may be as effective, ethical, and supportive of Tribal communities’ interests as possible. Before beginning his work on this project, Scott received his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment.


Sara Smith


Sara Smith is the Midwest Tribal Climate Science Liaison hired by the College of Menominee Nation as part of the Sustainable Development Institute. Sara will be stationed at the US Forest Service’s Northern Forest Research Station on the University of Minnesota campus in St. Paul, Minnesota along with our Deputy Director, Olivia LeDee. In this capacity, Sara will serve as a direct liaison between Tribes in the Midwest, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and climate science researchers to identify and address research gaps in climate, natural, and cultural resources as well as improve outreach and capacity building.

Sara is a direct descendent of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Biology (Ecology and Conservation) and First Nation Studies from the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay as well as a Master’s of Science degree in Ecology from the State University of New York – College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Her experience is in research and development, natural resources, ecology, Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), and working with indigenous communities in the Midwest. Sara’s interests include forest ecology and dynamics, bridging the gap between science and indigenous knowledge, climate resilience education, and community outreach.

Permanent link to this article: http://sustainabledevelopmentinstitute.org/2017/09/sdi-welcomes-new-staff/

Aug 25

Fall 2017 Internship and Student Worker Positions Now Available

The Sustainable Development Institute at CMN has two student opportunities. One is an internship; the other is a student worker position.

If you are interested, complete the application materials and submit them by Friday, Sept. 1. Interviews will be held the first week of Sept. and the positions will start on September 11.

Intern Application

Below are the opportunities available with SDI this Fall.

NSF CCE Tribal Climate Relations Intern

Learning Path Phenology Trail Implementation


Permanent link to this article: http://sustainabledevelopmentinstitute.org/2017/08/fall-2017-internship-and-student-worker-positions-now-available/

Aug 21

Planet Forward at George Washington University Looks to CMN Students to Apply as Correspondents

Planet Forward is reaching out to students at College of Menominee Nation to contribute to their blog and participate in digital storytelling competitions. Planet Forward engages young people and innovators in search of solutions to the biggest challenges facing our planet. Through storytelling, media and convening, they empower new voices and elevate compelling ideas.

The project was formed in 2009 by Emmy Award-winning journalist Frank Sesno to promote innovative ideas to address food, water, energy and environmental challenges confronting our planet. Produced by the Center for Innovative Media at The George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs, Planet Forward uses Web, video, social media, television and events to empower new voices and lead a global conversation on the planet’s future.

CMN student, Joseph Waukechon, attended the 2017 Planet Forward Summit in Washington, D.C. with Sustainability Coordinator, Rebecca Edler. Read the story here.

The Annual Storyfest Awards are announced each spring and recognize students’ work on subjects such as:

  • Food: How can we feed the planet, grow better food, stop wasting so much of it?
  • Water: How should we use it, conserve it, clean it, get it to places that don’t have enough of it?
  • Energy: What are new ways to generate it, make it cleaner, use it more efficiently?
  • Mobility: What’s a better way to get around, reduce congestion, minimize the impact on the environment and the climate?
  • The built environment: To build for the future, what are new materials, technologies or design that will make better homes, offices, neighborhoods and cities?
  • Biodiversity: How do we preserve and foster our vital ecosystems?

The Grand Prize for the Storyfest 2017 was a trip to the Brazilian Rainforest! There is no doubt that the next prize will be just as exciting!

For more information about how you can become involved email Cherie Thunder at cthunder@menominee.org or go straight to the source, Hannah Dale, Program Coordinator at hannah@planetforward.org.

Permanent link to this article: http://sustainabledevelopmentinstitute.org/2017/08/planet-forward-at-george-washington-university-looks-to-cmn-students-to-apply-as-correspondents/

Aug 14

Summer Intern Presentations 2017

Written by: Dolly Potts, Agricultural Research Intern

Adam Schulz and I were the first ones to present at our Summer Intern Community Report Out. Our project featured the Bear Island Flint Corn research plot.

Adam Schulz

Dolly Potts

Our project was to grow the Bear Island Flint corn using three soil amendments and leaving one plot as control, with nothing added. Adam presented first on the scientific portion of the research.

He spoke about the amendments and on the lay-out of the plot. He shared a video showing the growth stages of the corn. He did a great job and everyone enjoyed the video, myself included.


My presentation was on the Indigenous tradition that was infused into the project. I spoke about how we used a traditional feast and blessing for our initial crop. We invited elders and community members to participate in several aspects of our project. I believe by using our traditional practices our corn crop has grown to a healthy, tall and productive stand of corn. We used amendments that were found in the ancient garden beds of the Menominee people.

With our project we hope to revitalize growing corn on the Menominee Reservation. Most of the research corn will be left standing in the field to dry and some will be dried in a traditional manner. Adam and I will be harvesting the remaining corn in the next few weeks. The community is encourage to help in the harvest!

One of most recent challenges has been the bandits robbing our corn crop. The Menominee Environmental Services took away two raccoons we caught in the live traps. The raccoons were not harmed and will go live somewhere else in the forest.

The next presenter was Brandon Boyd. In his presentation, “Cultivating Culture of Ethical STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) in Collaborations Between Climate Change Decision-Support Organizations and Indigenous Peoples”. Brandon did a project to bring about awareness of climate change. He did a survey and reported on the results received from the participants. It was very interesting to find out the knowledge others hold about climate change.

Student Interns, Allison Bailey and Kathleen Waukau, collected data on plants to develop clear and efficient methods for gathering, recording and archiving observation data. Their presentation gave insight into how plants are reacting to climate change and the stages plants go through. Ethan Fregien inventoried the plants along the Learning Path to develop a manual for the incoming SDI intern as well as the community to use. His presentation showed how the manual was developed.

Youth worker, Trinaty Caldwell, researched plants on along the phenology trail identifying the Menominee, Latin, and common name. This information will be used to make signs that will be placed on the path to help others identify plants on the Learning Path.

Student Intern, Charlene Tourtillott, created a digital media marketing tool for the Indigenous Planing Summer Institute (IPSI). This year’s institute took place in various locations; the Menominee Nation Reservation, Oneida Reservation, and Whispering Pines retreat at Shawano Lake. The three-minute video captured this year’s 2017 retreat in hopes of promoting next year’s retreat and for use on the Indigenous Planning Summer Institute website.

Learning from the Land: Educational Modules for the Science Classroom was presented by Laundi Keepseagle and Joseph Waukechon. They did an educational video, created in animation by Joseph and narrated by Laundi. The video demonstrated the philosophy and practice of sustainable forestry by the Menominee Nation. The animation video Joseph made was great.

The final presentation was by the Sustainability Leadership Cohort (SLC) students: Maria Moreno, Matthew Schwitzer, Miranda Washinawatok, and Trinaty Caldwell. The students did a video to bring awareness of the need to reclaim food sovereignty for the Menominee community. Foresters, community members and traditional knowledge holders and practitioners were featured in the film. The SLC students also presented the research paper they did with the agricultural research project, reporting the data they collected from the Bear Island Flint Corn plot. The students were great help with all our projects and nice to be around. We all enjoyed them being at SDI this summer.

Matthew Schwitzer

2017 SLC, from left to right: Trinaty Caldwell, Maria Moreno, and Miranda Washinawatok












Last but not least, I wanted to report on the SDI Summer Youth Workers Pasen Waupoose and Shaelyn Fish work this summer. They were very busy, harvesting the Farmers Market garden, taking data on the Research Corn Plot, completing tasks around the SDI office, and landscaping around the College. Shaelyn also painted a wonderful sign for the Ag Research plot. The youth workers were always willing to help and were very polite. They had a full summer and rewarding summer at SDI.

2017 Youth Workers, from left to right: Pasen Waupoose and Shaelyn Fish








It’s off to school for most of the interns. This was a very busy and fruitful summer. I would like to thank all the interns and staff at SDI for all the help with the Bear Island Flint Corn Research Plot. The corn grew fast and healthy, I believe it was because of the good intentions of all the staff and interns who had contact with the corn plot. Thank you to all the community members for the support and traditional knowledge you shared with all the interns. Thank you to Chris Caldwell and my mentor Rebecca Edler. Thank you to Cherie, Cynthia, and Greg for answering our questions and helping all of us.

Permanent link to this article: http://sustainabledevelopmentinstitute.org/2017/08/4255/

Aug 14

Menominee Language Summit

Written by: Dolly Potts, Agricultural Research Intern

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 the revitalization efforts. 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 current efforts sometimes get confused as the “new Menominee”. I agree with the presenters that any progress is good for the people. 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”, a language immersion program at the Menominee Head Start. 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.

Permanent link to this article: http://sustainabledevelopmentinstitute.org/2017/08/4249/

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