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Native American Heritage Month: Honoring the Land

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

In spaces all over Wisconsin, a growing number of people are acknowledging the native land they are on before opening conferences and events. This acknowledgment is one way to honor the land, its inhabitants, the vast history, cultures, treaties for each of the American Indian nations and tribal communities in the state of Wisconsin.

DPI American Indian Studies Consultant, David O’Connor says, “At the beginning of each of our trainings or workshops, we do a land acknowledgment to recognize and respect the Indigenous people and lands we are on for our training, workshop, or event. We directly recognize the American Indian nations and tribal communities’ past, present, and future as being the stewards of the land and their continued relationship to their traditional territories.”

For example, O’Connor recently shared the following statement before a training session: “The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction acknowledges and honors the inherent sovereignty of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and eleven American Indian Nations of Wisconsin. The land we are on here for today’s event is that of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa people and nation. DPI will continue to cultivate and maintain our ongoing collaboration and partnership with the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and each of the American Indian nations, people, and communities of Wisconsin.”

The DPI Tribal Nations of Wisconsin web page provides a state map showing where the seats of government are geographically for the American Indian nations and tribal communities. Understanding where the nations and communities are situated can help establish a broader insight into land, cultures, and tribal sovereignty. “We show an image of the tribal nation’s flag for the community we are located for the training, while also recognizing all the Native nations and communities of Wisconsin,” O’Connor said.

There is a wealth of information about Wisconsin’s American Indian history and cultures including the myriad ways Wisconsin American Indian Studies content can be infused into classroom instruction, current tribal lands map and Native Nations facts, and even American Indian traditional foods commonly prepared and consumed in the state.

Finally, there are several professional learning opportunities available throughout the state to support educators looking to improve the implementation of American Indian studies in their classrooms.

For more information, visit the DPI American Indian Studies Program web page. The website equips educators with information necessary to implement curricular requirements in American Indian history, culture, and tribal sovereignty while providing up-to-date information about tribal nations in the state, American Indian language and culture, education licensure, events, and much more. The Wisconsin First Nations Education website, created by the DPI, PBS Wisconsin, and the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Education is also a valuable resource educators can use to find and integrate videos, lesson plans, and other tools into curriculum.