Welcome to the Wisconsin Indian Education Association’s website! Here you will find a plethora of information and resources on Native American Indian Education.
First things first – some simple “Indian” (Native American) rules of etiquette: We do not pass judgement. We all experience the ups and downs of life, and the best way to make all of our lives better is through compassion and tolerance. Secondly – the terms “Native American,” “Indian,” “Indigenous,” “Native,” “Tribal” and “American Indian” are most always interchangeable. In today’s progressive world, it’s good to know the most acceptable and respectful way to address each other. Third – all Indians are NOT the same. Each tribe, each community, even each family, may have a unique set of values, traditions and customs that guide their beliefs and systems. Although we do share many great things among our tribal cultures, each tribe (or band) has specific customs and beliefs that shape their collective tribal culture. We have a mixture of tribal affiliations and cultures here in Wisconsin but for the most part, the tribes indigenous to the state are Woodland People.
A common misconception is that all Indians lived in teepees. Not so. The Sioux (Lakota/Dakota/Nakota) people lived in teepees, which are indicative of the Plains Cultures (the Sioux moved to the plains from the woodlands, where they once lived). These dwellings were conical and made of long tree poles and buffalo hides. For the most part, Woodland People such as the Ojibwe, Potawatomi, Ho-Chunk and Oneida lived in dome shaped dwellings, of which the frames were constructed of saplings and covered with the wood, bark or fiber of local trees (and some tribes even used animal hides as coverings). As Indian people, we respect and honor each other’s customs and beliefs, and in that, we are bound by more similarities than differences. Fourth – there are 11 federally recognized tribal nations living today in Wisconsin and one nation that is still pursing federal recognition. They are the Ho-Chunk, Ojibwe/Chippewa (which consist of six separate bands; Red Cliff, Bad River, Sokaogon (Mole Lake), St. Croix, Lac du Flambeau and the Lac Courte Oreilles), Menominee Indian Tribe, Potawatomi (Forest County), Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians, Oneida Tribe of Indians and Brothertown Indians. Fifth – if a Native person offers you something to eat or drink, please kindly accept. This is a long held tradition among American Indians and a great sign of respect when accepted.
Our communities are often the largest employers in the counties in which they are located and provide jobs, critical infrastructure services and resources to both Indian and non-Indian people. One popular belief is that all Indians have casinos and therefore are “rich.” While we are certainly rich in our culture and heritage, our gaming revenues are largely funneled back into our communities to support tribal government and those critical infrastructure services previously mentioned. Our communities often have unmet needs, which create special challenges for our people. As Indian people, we hold dear to our traditional ways while trying to balance the progress of 21st century living.
In today’s world, we as tribal nations believe in providing the best opportunities for our children, young adults, working and single families, professionals and our elders. This includes education and the ability to pursue the “American Dream.” Our mission at WIEA is to advocate for the advancement of our tribal members and descendants through legislation, political avenues and legal approaches with education at the heart of our effort.
I hope you take your time looking around our website and are open to learning about our organization and the people we serve. I guarantee with you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how rich and colorful our culture and people are.
Until we see each other again.
Wisconsin Indian Education Association
The 2021 WIEA Conference Indigenous STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math is scheduled for April 21-23, 2021, and will be held online virtually. Registration is $75 for all participants. Conference sessions will be recorded and available for later viewing. Your $75 registration contribution is a great value and funds a number of important WIEA initiatives, including the annual Conference, annual Legislative Breakfast, annual Act 31 Celebration, as well as education awards, scholarships and other educational opportunities for Native learners. In addition, you’ll receive a full-year membership and voting privileges in WIEA.
Register today at: https://bit.ly/WIEA2021
The Wisconsin Indian Education Association (WIEA) supports the recent Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) resolution recommending the elimination of Native American mascots from all Wisconsin schools and calls upon school districts still employing the use of American Indian referents to take action and develop change plans to discontinue their further use.
Since 2005, the American Psychological Association has asserted that the use of Native American mascots is detrimental to all students, regardless of background. Indian mascots interfere with student ability to develop comprehensive understandings related to human diversity by creating, supporting, and maintaining overly simplistic and inaccurate views of Indigenous peoples throughout North America and perpetrating derogatory stereotypes —also causing harm to the social identity development and self-esteem of American Indian students.
For 34 years, the Wisconsin Indian Education Association has advocated on behalf of children and tribal communities through encouraging the implementation of best practices in education that contribute to positive educational outcomes for students of all backgrounds. WIEA encourages district and school administrators across the state to support the WASB resolution, including advocating for the creation of state legislation that provides compensation to assist districts with implementation of changes by defraying associated costs such as changing logos on facilities, uniforms, and other associated items.
Our children are our future. We must be proactive and work to maximize educational development opportunities that foster our children’s growth and development, particularly those efforts that focus on creating and maintaining inclusive learning environments conducive to understanding and respecting differences, both inside and outside of the classroom. The elimination of stereotypes is a key milestone on the path to building a better future for all of our children, and continued education and open dialogue will underscore our success.
It is time that we end the use of Indian mascots in Wisconsin school districts and unite under our shared goals of teaching our children respect, understanding, and love.
Respectfully submitted by the WIEA Board of Directors.
Wisconsin Indian Education Association