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) 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. Long ago it was customary to offer visitors food and drink, as doing so provided nourishment to the individual traveling between great distances. 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 that 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