UWM Indigenous American Faculty Influence Outcome of Kletzsch Park dam proposal

(below is only a portion of the full article. CLICK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE as reported by Alison Dirr, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel originally published 1:23 p.m. CT Dec. 24, 2019 | Updated 2:02 p.m. CT Dec. 24, 2019)

Questions and concerns, including over the location of a fish passage, the fate of a grove of century-old trees and the level of consultation with American Indian communities, are slowing Milwaukee County’s action on the redesign of the Kletzsch Park dam in Glendale and could put outside funding for the project at risk.

The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors’ Parks, Energy and Environment Committee has discussed the proposal at three meetings in recent months, including last week, when it was held over again without action.

The $2 million plan from Milwaukee County Parks includes a fish passage in the west side of the Milwaukee River; a scenic overlook, portage area and access to the water for people with disabilities; and dam repairs.

The plans for the redesign, which stem from a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources order that the county repair the dam, has met with public criticism from the beginning.

Before last week’s meeting, supervisors received a letter from a group of five professors and staff at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who expressed concerns about the “potential erasure of American Indian sacred land due to the development and gentrification of Kletzsch Park.”

They advocated for holding off taking action on the proposal Thursday in order to seek input from more members of the urban Milwaukee American Indian community and all nations that had a presence at the site.

Margaret Noodin, director of the Electa Quinney Institute for American Indian Education at UWM and one of the letter’s writers, told the Journal Sentinel that they sent the letter after talking with people with a range of perspectives. The purpose of the letter was not to take a position on any proposals but to urge further conversation and education, she said.

Bernard Perley, another of the letter writers and an associate professor of anthropology and American Indian studies, told the committee the fact that the mounds are no longer there doesn’t mean it isn’t still a sacred place.

He said the group does not oppose the goals of restoring native fish populations, plants and trees or the development of access to the park. But, he said, they are concerned about the continued erasure of Native voices and concerns.

Richard Kubicek, a historic preservation officer at the DNR, told the committee that he believed the department had achieved its goal of giving the process a good faith effort, reaching out on multiple fronts, considering options and inviting consultation.

He said the DNR received a general statement of support from the Wisconsin Inter-Tribal Repatriations Committee [a subcommittee of the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council] but was also asked to communicate with any concerned members who weren’t at a meeting between the committee and the DNR.

The committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lucas told the committee that rejecting this project could jeopardize future funding for projects aimed at cleaning up long-standing environmental contamination in the lower Milwaukee River basin and Lake Michigan.

The measure is scheduled to next be heard at the committee’s Jan. 28 meeting. Supervisor Jason Haas, the committee’s chairman, was the lone vote on the five-member committee against holding the item until the next meeting.

WUWM Highlights work of EQI on UWM Today

On two occasions, Tom Luljack, host of UWM Today on WUWM 89.7, spent time with folks from our institute to learn a little more about the work of EQI, its impact on students, and the community as well as more about the history of Milwaukee.

Learn About UWM’s ‘Commitment To Serving The Native American Population’

Part 1 includes stories of our shared history in Milwaukee and on the work of the institute with Director Noodin and graduate student Breu.
(From left) Tom Luljack with Margaret Noodin and Nathon Breu.

Native American Big Drums: A Performance & Chat

As promised at the end of the part 1 conversation, part 2 extends on the conversation and includes a performance from our teaching big drum student group.
Tom Luljak with guests: (front row) Marcus, Nathon, and Mike; (back row) Elizabeth, Angela, Monea, Morgan, Cyndi (Tom), and Margaret songs performed:
* American Indian Movement (AIM) song
* Nakweshkodaadidaa ekobiiyag (Meet me by the water)
* Traveling Song
You can listen and learn these songs as well! They can be found by clicking on each name.


“Indigenous Voices” in the Planetarian issue of December

In the Spring months of last year (2018), the UWM Manfred Olson Planetarium, the Electa Quinney Institute, and the native community came together to share stories and connections of star and earth. The development and lessons learned from the “Indigenous Voices” program was published in Vol 47 No 4 – December 2018 issue of the Plaentariun.

UWM Anthropologist Bernard Perley at the State Department

Dr. Perley

On November 29, 2018, Bernard Perley, UW-Milwaukee’s linguistic anthropologist, and faculty affiliate of the Electa Quinney Institute, was invited to present at the Department of State in Washington DC to mark Native American Heritage Month. The invitation came from the Native American Foreign Affairs Council (NAFAC), and the title of Dr. Perley’s talk was “Experiencing Native North America:
Native American Cultural and Language Revitalization”. When asked about the event, Dr. Perley responded by saying: “I talked about our work at UWM (including [the star stories with] Jean from the planetarium), ICS, and EQI. The audience was interested and responsive. UWM’s reach goes far and wide!”


UW-Milwaukee Institute Receives STEM Focused Grant for American Indian Education

**UPDATE: Wisconsin Public Radio “The Morning Show” UW-Milwaukee Program Addresses American Indian Teacher Shortage interview with Director Margaret Noodin. 

For a second year in a row, the Electa Quinney Institute has been awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. This $1.1 million, five year, grant is a partnership with EQI, Milwaukee Public Schools, and the Indian Community School to promote and support Native American educators in STEM fields. The grant will support a total of 10 students to obtain their initial license in either teaching or administrative leadership.

The Electa Quinney Teacher Training and Administrative Leadership Program (TTAL) is a five-year partnership between the Indian Community School (ICS) and Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) to recruit and prepare undergraduate, post-baccalaureate or graduate level students to build capacity in public, private and charter schools in Milwaukee and tribal schools in the Great Lakes region. This project will address teacher and administrator shortages in the American Indian community and will work with school districts throughout the state.

More information and a link to the application can be found here.