Community dialogues in the Ashland, Red Cliff and Bad River communities on Lake Superior called for more community involvement. As a result, a 5-day experiential, intergenerational institute was conducted in Ashland and Odanah for formal and informal educators, students and community partners.Preparation included identifying native species with Ojibwe names, team-building in pairs, and mapping on-site water flows. Teams reported data on a Google Map to trace flowage into Lake Superior. Action: A Water Stewardship Journey followed the flow and tested water quality through the Bad River Watershed in the Penokee Hills from the headwaters at Lake Carolyn down to Copper Falls, guided by a Northland College geologist and Bad River Watershed Association staff and volunteers. Town officials explained impacts of the proposed mining project. The journey continued at Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Commission with a water ceremony, Ojibwe language, wild rice, and indigenous science. Bad River Tribal Chair Mike Wiggins outlined watershed issues and historic preservation officer Edith Leoso led a boat tour of the Kakagon Wild Rice Sloughs into Lake Superior. Action: Fond du Lac Tribal Community College shared Gidakiimanaaniwi-gamig after-school and seasonal activities involving kids in explorations from nature to robotics, “Snow Snakes to “fish print” T-shirts. Teachers led water testing and beach clean-up at Chequamegon Bay, and Estuary Explorations in Kayaks. Reflection included Phenology Wheels to integrate water stewardship into curriculum plans and a Circle Talk. Participants returned to their communities to implement projects to be shared at winter gatherings, community meetings, webinars and websites.
The 2nd Indigenous Arts and Sciences Water Stewardship Institute will be held July 29-August 2 at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland.