Oskēh-Mamāceqtāwak Kēketōwak-Youth Speak Dec. 7, 2016

This FREE family event will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 7 from 5:30 to 8:30. Come out to support the Sustainability Leadership Cohort in presenting their fiction film“Kāēyas Mesek Oskēken” (It’s Old and It’s New), produced in less than 1 month during summer 2016.

A young Menominee woman, Susan Weston, is beginning to see her true passion at the end of her junior year. The audience is taken on a journey as youth and elders walk to protect and honor the sacred water during the Menominee River water walk.

Also sharing their work will be the Native American Student Association from Madison West High School. The documentary is titled, “Living the Ho-Chunk Language: The People of the Big Voice”.

Members of Madison’s West High School’s Native American Student Association (NASA) wanted to explore what local Indian nations are doing to revitalize their tribe’s language loss due to colonization and boarding schools. Students interviews Ho-Chunk elders and language apprentices in order to document these efforts. Included in the documentary is the poignant question as to how language is the carrier of culture, values, ethics, and way of life. This documentary also demonstrates the historical ramifications of colonialism, boarding schools, and policies of the United States government regarding assimilation that the Ho Chunk and various Indian nations are positively reclaiming their language through these efforts.

2016 SLC Makes a Fiction Film

The sustainability leadership cohort’s theme this year is renewable energy. We learned more about this during the native energy odyssey trip to Pine Ridge, South Dakota. At the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center we learned how solar panels and wind turbines could be used to power electricity and heating in houses. After this trip we all had a better understanding of clean and renewable energy and more ways it could be used.

Currently, we are working on a science fiction film about energy and mining. This is the first time the cohort is producing a fiction film. In past years our video projects have been more documentary style, so trying something very new to us. Overall, this summer has been very fun and interesting. We have all been working very hard on the production of the movie.

The movie incorporates energy and discusses the importance of preserving the water and the negative impacts a mine would have on the environment. The filming of the movie is nearly done
and the next step will be editing. When the editing stage is complete we will invite our families and communities to share the film and speak about the mine that is currently being considered in Michigan.

Making this movie has been such a great experience and we are all very excited for everyone to see it. The movie will premiere on Monday, August 15, in the Cultural Learning Center at College of Menominee Nation at 6 p.m. We all hope to see everyone there!

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Belizean Journey Part 1

By Justin Gauthier

At the end of June 2015, the culmination of over eight months of work by the dedicated people behind the scenes of the Sustainability Leadership Cohort came to realization as the 2015 batch of students and mentors landed safely in the beautiful country of Belize. The collaboration of the Sustainable Development Institute, the POSOH project, and the Center for Engaged Learning Abroad provided a weeklong culture and science learning experience for the ten amazing students chosen to participate in the POSOH Sustainability Leadership Cohort program for summer 2015.

I was honored to go along on this once in a lifetime trip as a mentor to the students. Aside from a few times across the border to Canada, this was my first international travelling experience. I wasn’t alone as a first-time international traveller. A couple of our students were also rookies in this respect. As daunting as international travel can be, it was comforting to know that our group would be comprised of experienced travellers and amazing mentors.

In preparation for the trip, I studied a bit on the country of Belize. I’m lucky enough to have a pair of mentors (Mahrie Peterson and Dennis Vickers) who lived in Belize for years and provided me with some great advice. I referenced Lonely Planet Belize as a guidebook and also listened to the Belize Talk Radio podcast to hear about the local culture we would be encountering. Of course, no amount of preparation can compare to being there.

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Figure 1 In the air over the Midwest on our flight from Milwaukee, WI to Dallas, TX

Our travel from Milwaukee, WI to Belize City, Belize on the morning of June 26, 2015 went smoothly. As we touched down on the runway, I was surprised that I was able to feel the humidity in the air. It seemed even the pressurized cabin of our aircraft was unable to deny the climate. Descending the plane side stairway, I was struck by the absolute wall of humidity that welcomed us. I have been in Florida at the height of summer and the climate there doesn’t compare to that of Belize in June. Entering the airport, we were welcomed by a huge poster of the new label design for the local Belizean beer, Belikin. The brand label was fairly ubiquitous throughout the small area of the country we visited.

After going through customs, we were greeted by Dr. Filiberto Penados and our trusty Toyota bus. It was nice to finally match a face to the voice we had rounds of phone meetings with for the past few months. Fil, as he preferred to be called, welcomed us and presented us all with a gift in the form of a seed bracelet. This bracelet was comprised of an intricately woven parachute cord-style closure thread through a row of dried seeds. During his presentation of the bracelets, he explained a few of the seeds used and challenged us to identify a mystery seed stranded in the mix. It was a fun detail that provided opportunity to make friends with local people.

On the bus ride to our accommodations in San Jose Succotz, I was struck by the remnants of colonial culture throughout the strata of infrastructure from the urban to the rural. European/Colonial architecture exists in skeletal, built, and in progress forms right beside more traditional architecture. The more traditional architecture of the area seemed to be elevated or stilted houses. I suppose that this style of house helps keep things dry during the extensive Belizean wet season and provides good airflow.

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Figure 2 Arenal school on the Belize-Guatemala border

Aside from the architecture and the humidity, the flora and fauna of this land emerged as completely new yet vaguely familiar. Fellow mentor Tom Kenote succinctly said, “I feel like an infant in this new region of the world”. In the equatorial biome, there are so many species of trees, plants, and animals that it can feel overwhelming. Coming from the United States, where logo recognition has been given such a place of importance over identification of other life, it reinforced in my mind the extent of how assimilated I have become to a consumer mindset.

Belize – Annie

If Belize had to be described in one word, that word would have to be adventure. We learned so much from the moment we arrived, and that lasted to the moment we left. Everything we learned will continue to last forever because every experience was very memorable. The entire SLC group grew very close from learning and experiencing so much together. We had many chances to meet and get to know the natives of Belize by spending time as a group and one-on-one time with people of all ages. One thing that everyone agrees with is that the people of Belize are amazing because of their kindness and openness to sharing their lives and culture with anyone willing to learn and appreciate it.
The land of Belize is the perfect comparison for the people. Much of it is untouched and grows openly and freely. There is so much variety in color and uses for all living things. One of these things is medicinal use. Everything is used for something, and many of the uses are known by the native people of Belize. There is always more to learn though, and I have no doubt the uses will be discovered and used properly if the land is preserved.

Youth Speaks Event 2015

Save-the-date! The Youth Speaks Event will be held on November 19th at the College of Menominee Nation Cultural Learning Center from 6-8pm.

This event is to showcase the work of the Sustainability Leadership Cohort (SLC) during the summer. We will be showing the latest video, SLC News! We hope everyone can make it and represent the 2015 cohort!

Experiences in Belize – Susan

Belize in one word would be an adventure. We have been back from Belize for a little over two weeks, and they say soon it will all be a distant memory, but for me it is something that will never fade away, or be too far away. From Belize I learned more than I could ever learn from just a textbook or reading about it. I experienced it, day-by-day life, immersed in their culture, and was accepted by the people. It is a culture down there that is unlike any I have ever seen. It made me feel things that I might have never have unlocked if it wasn’t for Belize and the people I went with. It reminded me of one person in peculiar somebody who came from such a different background, lifestyle, and culture, but how even though we have differences, we can still come together and be friends and a family. This person was my foreign exchange student who I got the chance to spend two years of my life with. A friendship and connection that is forever life changing. Belize was a lot like this special year. It in a way brought me back to my roots and in a sense reconnected me with parts I haven’t been connected with in what seems like forever. It was a really amazing feeling to be connected once again. Belize is so beautiful, and it’s also a place that is full of beautiful people. Some of my most favorite things from Belize were the aspiring friendships, the embracement of the people, and everything tied together. I could go on and on for hours about Belize, but instead I’ll just leave you with this. “Adventure is out there,” It was experience that will be with me forever.

Belize – Sherrie

My experience in Belize was absolutely amazing. I learned so much and it helped me grow as a person. I loved being able to interact and communicate with the people from Belize. They have so much knowledge and so many things they could teach us. I also enjoyed learning about their culture and being able to participate in their communal dances. It was a lot of fun. When I was there I felt great. The people there were so happy and it made me happy; you could really tell how close the community is and how important family is to them. I recall a girl I met there, Maritza, saying how important the children were to them and how they always play with them and teach them games that are brain stimulating. I thought that was so cool. It made me wish that more parents would value their children like that here on the reservation. I loved how sustainable they were there too, how they used rainwater for their sinks and showers and although I didn’t really enjoy not being able to flush the toilet, I thought that was cool too. I also enjoyed all the activities we did throughout the trip. They were very fun and educational. Over all I loved the country. It was truly a beautiful place and I definitely want to go back one day and vacation. I forgot to mention I loved all the fruit trees and fresh fruit we got to eat. It was delicious.

My favorite thing we did on the trip was probably canoeing and swimming in the Macow river, I believe that’s how you spell it. I really liked this because we finally got to swim and the river felt amazing (because it was so incredibly humid) and canoeing was very calming and the scenery was beautiful.