May 03

2019 Earth Day Celebration

The College of Menominee Nation (CMN) – Sustainable Development Institute (SDI), recognized Earth Day by hosting a celebration. The 2019 theme, Netāēnawemākanank, “All My Relatives”, was celebrated as local school children attended the event to learn more about their non-human relatives.

SDI student interns, CMN faculty and staff, Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin employees, and community groups volunteered their time throughout the day. Exhibits were set up across the Keshena campus to promote how each of us can be a better relative to the plants and animals with whom we share this planet. Visitors explored greenhouses, learned about soil health and composting near the Sustainable Development Institute. At the S. Verna Fowler library, students created a mural that represented the theme. As students walked along the Learning Path, located on campus behind the campus buildings, they heard about invasive species, archeology, and plant phenology. In addition, visitors learn about forest conservation, local animal species, Menominee Tribal Enterprise, and healthy living.

Participants collected Earth Day trading cards featuring some of our non-human relatives. The cards were created by Curtis Wilhelmi and Marissa Vele, students attending the college.


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Aug 03

Positive Youth Development in Indian Country

Written by: Marissa Vele

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.

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Aug 03

Agricultural Research Workshop

Written by: Dolly PottsThe 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.

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Aug 03

An SLC Summer

Written by Marissa Vele, SDI Intern

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.

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Aug 03

Researching Bear Island Flint Corn at SDI


My name is Adam Schulz and I am a student and Agriculture Research Intern at the College of Menominee Nation’s (CMN) Sustainable Development Institute (SDI). Today I am going to share a synapse of the research project that my partner, Dolly Potts, and I have been working on since last year.

Our research project is growing Bear Island Flint Corn testing three (3) amendments and a control. This is a randomized replication study with each treatment being repeated four (4) times. Our plots are laid out in sixteen (16) ten foot by fifteen foot plots. Each plot contains four sub-rows of corn. Each row has thirty plants. The garden is set up with four plots per row, walking paths between each set of plots, and a two foot buffer zone around the garden.
Our research mimics the use of two of the soil amendments found in the archeological work of Dr. David Overstreet, Menominee tribal archeologist; bio-char and aquatic substance. The third amendment is a conventional fertilizer available for everyday use called Urea. Urea is a nitrogen based fertilizer. Bio-char is made by burning wood down to a charcoal state. It is then raked into the soil. Due to safety concerns, we substituted fish emulsion for aquatic substance.

Fish emulsion is ground up fish and it is available for purchase at gardening stores and online. If one wanted to make their own fish emulsion they would need one part fish or fish guts, one part molasses, and two parts saw dust. First cut or blend the fish parts into a fine mixture, then combine with molasses and saw dust. Store outside in direct sunlight to ferment, stirring the mixture daily. The last amendment is the control, which means nothing added to the soil.

In our research, we use a corn type that Dr. Overstreet found in his archeological digs in the ancient Menominee garden beds. The corn is called Bear Island Flint corn and is commonly associated with the Ojibwa people. The corn is named after an island in Canada where it originated from. Bear Island Flint is a perfect corn to grow in Northern Wisconsin. It has an 85 to 90 day maturity rate that coincides with our growing season. Traditionally, flint corn is a grinding corn used for a wide range of purposes from flour to soup. If it is picked in the green stage, the stage sweet corn comes from, it is very sweet and highly nutritious.

Our seed had over a 90% germination rate. This high germination rate is common of this species and better than the 60- 80% germination rate of common store bought varieties.

The western scientific part of this research project includes collecting and analyzing data on corn yield, kernel size, moisture content of the plants and seed, and differences amongst the four treatment methods. Jamie Patton, Senior Outreach Specialist, and Dr. Francisco Arriaga from the University of Wisconsin-Madison trained us on how to use different soil monitoring devices such as moisture meters, soil probes, and lab equipment. Jamie also showed us how to measure for plant growth, how to examine the corn and decide when it is dried enough to pick, and she provide workshops on soil morphologies. I built data sheets in Google Docs to record various data we collected. Once the year one data was compiled, I got the chance to work with the CMN Mathematician, Harlan Pygman, to analyze our data. Our hypothesis that the bio-char and fish emulsion plots would have the greatest influence on the corn growth and yield was supported by the data.

The inferential data suggested the corn average 30% bigger kernels in the bio-char plots over the other three treatment plots. The data also showed a higher biomass in the plots treated with fish emulsion. We are in the process of repeating the study this year to provide more statistical evidence supporting our ancestral indigenous knowledge.

An exciting aspect of the research project is to present the project at conferences, workshops, and seminars. The first presentation and conference I took part in was the SDI intern report-out in August of 2017. This report-out session provides interns the opportunity to recap their summer projects for the mentors, family, and community members. The second presentation was at the Red Lake Nation Food Summit in Red Lake, Minnesota.

At the food summit we learned about all the food sovereignty projects taking place in Indian Country. Dolly and I shared information on our corn project and meet some new friends who are also growing corn. I meet a Red Lake gentleman named Jack who is growing a Red Lake strand of Flint Corn. Jack taught me how to make hominy corn. I brought this new skill back to Wisconsin and have since made several batches of hominy, including for the planting feast we held at the start of this year’s project at the end of May.

There have been several other national conferences that I have attended and presented our research at. We attended the Native American Nutrition Conference hosted by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Nation. While there Dolly and I attended several breakout sessions with our mentor, SDI Sustainability Coordinator, Rebecca Edler. We also presented our research paper at a two hour poster session. Our posters were also on display for the entire time we were at the conference. Finally, I presented at American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) events in New Mexico and Washington D.C.

This research project has given me the chance to supplement the skills I have accumulated while attending CMN. Furthermore, I have learned a lot of interesting tidbits about corn, research, and the quest for food sovereignty across Indian country. I have learned how indigenous knowledge on food is rapidly supplementing and education western approaches to gardening. I highly recommend our Stockbridge-Munsee Community members looking into all the neat research being conducted at CMN and SDI and consider CMN for your educational needs. Thank you kindly for taking the time to read my report.

If you would like further information on this research project, please contact the Sustainable Development Institute at the College of Menominee Nation at 715-799-6226 ext: 3041 or check out our website at

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Feb 20

New CMN SDI Internship Announced

Sustainable Development Research Intern Opening

Apply by March 2, 2018!


The Sustainable Development Research Internship is being offered as part of a project funded by the American Indian College Fund (AICF) Scholarly Emergence for Environmental Design & Stewardship (SEEDS) grant program. CMN Faculty Member Dr. Dennis Vickers is Principal Investigator (PI) for the project in collaboration with the Sustainable Development Institute. The overall focus of the project is to design and develop a Bachelor of Arts degree program in Integrative Studies built upon the Menominee Model of Sustainable Development. The project will include work within the College, with Tribal community leaders, and Tribal members.

Internship responsibilities include:

  • Assist with archival research and cataloging of historical documents related to SDI, CMN sustainability courses, and other relevant materials for the described project.

  • Assist with development of a summary paper and presentation on findings.

  • Assist with coordination of design meetings.

See the full intern position description here.

To apply complete the intern application form and email to the email listed or drop off at SDI.

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Feb 06

Internship and high school SLC Application Deadline Extended!


The deadline for the SDI internship program as well as the high school Sustainability Leadership Cohort (SLC) has been extended until February 16, 2018 by 4 p.m.


Check out the internship and SLC opportunities below:

Undergraduate Internship

Download and print the CMN internship application form here.

You can also stop by student Services or Sustainable Development Institute to pick up an application and speak with our staff about the internships we have available. Application deadlines are posted in each position below. Click the link to read more about the internship.

Agricultural Research Specialist

Menominee Ag Practices Archaeology Intern

Sustainability Leadership Cohort Education Mentor


Complete the SLC application form here.


Menominee Agricultural Practices and Archaeology

Explore and participate in research of ancient Menominee cultural sites, such as early settlements and raised bed gardens. The Menominee were once great farmers/gardeners with the knowledge and experience that was required to sustain a people throughout even the harshest of times. That knowledge still remains and is waiting to be reclaimed. What will you do to help?

Indigenous Knowledge, Culture, Language and College and Career Prep

Now more than ever the world is looking to indigenous peoples to help solve some of the most pressing issues. Learn how traditional knowledges carried from generation to generation has the power to impact the world in a positive and transformative way. Explore leadership values, language and culture, and higher education to prepare yourself to help ensure the sustainability of our communities.

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Jan 30

Back Forty Mine Public Hearing on the Wetland Permit Application

Photo credit: Jeff Vele, Mohican News

On the evening of January 23, the Stevenson gymnasium was filled with people hoping to voice their opposition to the Back Forty Mine Project. The open pit metallic sulfide mine, proposed by the Canadian mining exploration company, Aquila Resources Inc., would be located just 150 feet from the banks of the Menominee River in Lake Township, Michigan. The company hopes to obtain copper, gold, zinc, silver and other minerals from a pit 750 feet deep.

During the public hearing held by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), nearly 90 individuals had a chance to address the MDEQ to voice their views regarding the wetland permit application, the last permit needed by Aquila Resources Inc. before moving forward with the project. Of the individuals who spoke, only four were in favor of the proposed mine.

The first speaker of the night was Menominee Tribal Chairman, Gary Besaw, who informed the MDEQ, that “The Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin filed a lawsuit in federal court against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Tribe asserts that the agencies have failed to take primary responsibility for a wetland permit that is key to the future of the controversial Back Forty Mine proposal.”



Chairman Besaw was followed at the podium by Tribal leaders and Tribal representatives from Wisconsin who stand in solidarity with the Menominee who oppose the mine. Ada Deer, a well-known Menominee advocate told the MDEQ, “Wetlands are the kidneys of the Great Lakes” as she spoke in opposition. In addition to Tribal representation, many local residents spoke out against the mine as did environmentalists and educators from across the state.



The public comment period is open until February 2, 2018. Comments will continue to be accepted in writing or online submitted to the address or website below.

MiWaters public comment site –

Michigan DEQ, Upper Peninsula District Office WRD, 1507 W. Washington Street Marquette, MI 49855

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Jan 11

Intern with SDI this Semester!

SDI currently has three internship opportunities available for spring 2018. To apply for the internships listed below follow the links for a description of each project. Deadlines to apply vary, see posting for more info.

Agricultural Research Specialist

Menominee Agricultural Practices Archaeology Intern

Sustainability Leadership Cohort Education Mentor

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Jan 11

2018 Sustainability Leadership Cohort Now Accepting Applications

The Sustainability Leadership Cohort (SLC) is designed to support
Menominee Nation as well as other Native youth by helping them build leadership skills, promoting higher education, and ultimately,
encouraging the next generation of community leaders. The SLC’s goal is to ignite interest and broaden understanding of
sustainability through place-based experiences.

This year students in grades 9-12 can choose from two different cohort experiences, Menominee Agricultural Practices and Archaeology or Indigenous Knowledge, Culture, Language and College and Career Prep. To learn more about the two new programs follow this link.

The application deadline is Monday, February 5 at 4 pm. Applications can be picked up at the Sustainable Development Institute on the south end of CMN campus in the old Area 47 building or at Menominee and Shawano high schools. An online application can be filled out here.

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