5th Annual Youth Speak Event

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Nov 20

College of Menominee Nation Students Are Presenters at National Conference

Interns from the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) of the College of Menominee Nation (CMN) recently made presentations at the 2017 First American Land Grant Consortium (FALCON) conference in Washington, D.C.

CMN students Georgie (Dolly) Potts, Adam Schulz, and Allison Bailey delivered information about the research projects in which they participated throughout the last growing season.

Research by the students is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA). Potts and Schulz are conducting agricultural research to determine if different soil amendments impact the growth and yield of Bear Island Flint Corn, a traditional corn. The soil amendments chosen for the project were selected from archeological work done by Dr. David Overstreet. Soil samples taken from the ancient Menominee garden beds show amendments of river muck, bio-char, pottery fragments, fish and other plant species.

The amendments chosen for this project included replication of the traditional amendments of bio-char and fish emulsion, and of a synthetic fertilizer determined by Jamie Patton, Shawano County Agricultural Agent. A control was also used in the study.  In June, sixteen randomized plots were planted at the SDI facility on the CMN campus in Keshena, and the harvest took place in mid-October.

Student researchers found that the corn grew amazing well and the crop produced well-formed cobs of various colors and sizes. The biggest problem posed in the project was raccoons. Even with a six- foot-high fence, the critters managed to find the corn and feast on it. With the help of Menominee Conservation personnel, nine raccoons, one skunk, and a cat were caught in a live trap and released away from the research plot.

The project included bringing traditional knowledge and indigenous ways of knowing to the research project. Potts, of the Prairie Band Potawatomi, is in the Liberal Studies/Humanities program. Her presentation at FALCON described how traditional feasts, harvesting, gathering, and stories play a role in agriculture. These components are all included in the agricultural research project conducted at SDI.

Shulz, a first-line direct descendant of the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Community, oversaw the garden research. He is enrolled in the bachelor’s degree program in Business Administration program at CMN and holds an associate degree from the College in Natural Resources. His presentation at FALCON focused on the agricultural research conducted through scientific efforts such as plot design, soil testing, project protocol, and projected results.

Allison Bailey is an enrolled member of the Oneida Nation who presented on her phenology internship experience at SDI.  Phenology is the study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena, especially relating to climate and plant and animal life. For this project, students follow the growth and life cycle of twelve selected plants that grow in three forest research plots. Bailey described what the pheno stages of the plants are and the importance of plant observation in a changing climate.  She is enrolled in the Early Childhood Education program at CMN. This project is also funded by USDA-NIFA.

To find out more about the College of Menominee Nation, Sustainable Development Institute, and intern opportunities, visit www.sustainabledevelopmentinstitute.org, or contact Rebecca Edler, Sustainability Coordinator, at 715-799-6226, ext. 3043.

Permanent link to this article: http://sustainabledevelopmentinstitute.org/2017/11/college-of-menominee-nation-students-are-presenters-at-national-conference/

Nov 08

Sustainable Development Institute wins major grant to develop and provide leadership and ACT prep opportunities for MIHS youth

The office of U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin has announced a $798,199 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help provide ACT preparation courses and leadership opportunities to Menominee Indian High School students.

The award will be managed by the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) of the College of Menominee Nation.

Project partners collaborating with SDI include the College of Menominee Nation’s teacher education program and digital media program, Menominee Indian School District; Menominee Tribal School; Mawaw Ceseniyah, a community-based Menominee culture and language organization; and the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Midwest Region Fire Prevention program.


The four-year grant will enhance and expand SDI’s successful youth enrichment program model known as the Sustainability Leadership Cohort.  Funding will bring new multifaceted activities centered on fire, which will help introduce language and culture teachings, science, technology, engineering and math concepts, along with leadership and responsibility. The students will gain a better understanding of how indigenous ecological knowledge and western science can interact and how to apply that understanding to address environmental issues both inside and outside the classroom.

The project team will be providing more ACT preparation opportunities for the Menominee Indian High School students to generate an increase in the number of students who take the ACT and apply to college. In addition to receiving ACT preparation, students will work with teams made up of in-service and pre-service teachers, language and culture practitioners, and CMN staff to develop science lessons for elementary classrooms using indigenous knowledge as the base. This work will take place on the Menominee reservation in Wisconsin, at the College of Menominee Nation’s Keshena campus, the Menominee Tribal School and in the Menominee Indian School District.

Both high school and undergraduate interns (pre-service teachers) will be hired in early 2018. Students will receive a stipend for participation in this program and have the opportunity to present their work at relevant conferences.

Funding for the project, titled “Preparing Native Youth for the Future through the Sustainability Leadership Cohort (SLC),” is through the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) and Office of Indian Education: Indian Education Discretionary Grants Programs: Demonstration Grants for Indian Children Program.

Information on the Sustainability Leadership Cohort, and other related efforts can be found at the CMN website, www.sustainabledevelopmentinstitute.org, or by contacting Christopher Caldwell, Director of the Sustainable Development Institute, ccaldwell@menominee.edu, 715-799-6226, ext. 3145.

Permanent link to this article: http://sustainabledevelopmentinstitute.org/2017/11/sustainable-development-institute-wins-major-grant-to-develop-and-provide-leadership-and-act-prep-opportunities-for-mihs-youth/

Nov 08

Tribe’s Ancient Agricultural Practices Are Focus of Grant to CMN’s Sustainable Development Institute

A new $219,000 grant will help concentrate attention on ancient agricultural methods of the Menominee People and perceptions about the historic life and practices of the tribe.

The Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) of the College of Menominee Nation will manage the award.  Funding for the “Menominee Agricultural Practices, Historical Perceptions and Late Prehistoric Reality” project is through the Tribal Colleges Research Grant Program of the United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Project collaborators include the noted archaeologist, Dr. David Overstreet, Makec Mihekan LLC; David Grignon, the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin’s Historic Preservation Officer; and Dr. William Gartner, Department of Geography and Michelle Miller, Center of Integrated Agricultural Systems, both at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Over the next two years, research topics will include Menominee raised-bed technology, late prehistoric agricultural villages and the historical characterizations of Native American agriculture. Undergraduate and high school researchers will learn about archaeological methods and techniques as they research Menominee agricultural practices. This work will take place on the Menominee reservation, at the College of Menominee Nation’s Keshena campus, and at UW-Madison.

The research team will explore how perceptions of Native American agriculture conflict with contemporary research done on the Menominee reservation that shows the Menominee possessed extensive agricultural knowledge.

Both professional research and student activities that have taken place at the College, through SDI and on the reservation provide foundations for the new project.  Significant archaeological findings of Dr. Overstreet and colleagues have brought attention to “ancient garden” evidence in the region. Student engagement has included work by SDI’s high school youth program – the Sustainability Leadership Cohort (SLC).  Most recently, SLC’s short video, “Digging into Food Sovereignty: A Student Led Exploration” featured research done within the community and the Menominee Logging Museum’s demonstration garden display of techniques used throughout Menominee history.

Grant funding will enhance the SLC program through multifaceted activities designed to help the Native youth who participate to build college and career skills, expand their interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields of study, and a better understanding of the rich agricultural history of the Menominee.

Both high school and undergraduate interns will be hired in early 2018. Students will receive a stipend for participation in this program and have the opportunity to present their work at relevant conferences.

Information on Dr. Overstreet’s “ancient gardens” research, the student Sustainability Leadership Cohort, and other related efforts can be found at the CMN website, www.menominee.edu, or by contacting Christopher Caldwell, Director of the Sustainable Development Institute, ccaldwell@menominee.edu, 715-799-6226, ext. 3145.

Permanent link to this article: http://sustainabledevelopmentinstitute.org/2017/11/tribes-ancient-agricultural-practices-are-focus-of-grant-to-cmns-sustainable-development-institute/

Nov 02

5th Annual Youth Speak Event

The Youth Speak Event will be held on Friday December 8 from 5:30 until 7:30 p.m. at College of Menominee Nation Cultural Learning Center. This year’s event will feature an art showcase for high school students. 

Artwork must focus on important issues affecting the Menominee community.

For more information about submissions for the art showcase contact Cherie Thunder at cthunder@menominee.edu or (715)799-6226 ext. 3243.

Permanent link to this article: http://sustainabledevelopmentinstitute.org/2017/11/5th-annual-youth-speak-event/

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/

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