Sokaogon Chippewa Community News

Cultural Committee Offers Full Agenda of Activities

Story and photo by Richard D. Ackley, Jr. 
Members of the Cultural Committee gathered early last Friday morning to finalize this year’s busy agenda. Time is already passing by quickly for the committee to implement its full calendar of activities planned for this year. Discussions focused on a determined plan of events based upon projects that will further the traditions and the sharing of Ojibwe culture.
A Tanning Workshop allowing participants to learn about preserving deer hides was held last weekend at the Rec Center and will reconvene January 24th and January 25th. A Tobacco Pouch Making Class to be held February 7th and February 8th will continue the tanning process and offer hands-on practice to create usable items from the tanned deer hides.

The annual “Ishpaagoonika” Deep Snow Camp will take place beginning Friday, January 31st at both Pelican Lake and the Rec Center, and conclude Sunday, February 2nd. Planning is also underway for the 2020 TRAILS Pow-Wow that will be held March 28th and March 29th.

                                                                         Tanning Workshop photos courtesy of Cassandra Graikowski
A new calendar is ready for distribution and highlights the activities scheduled now thru the end of this year.

Cassandra Graikowski, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO), explained her excitement about the committee, saying, “We actually have received more money in our budget than was originally requested and was approved by Council about a week ago!” Cassandra also noted that the current budget, which continues through September 30th, enables projects to move farther and more quickly, allowing for more leveraging as additional preservation and education grants are applied for.

In addition to calendar of upcoming projects and events, the committee discussed the requests coming forth from staff members of the Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM). In March 2017, MPM announced plans for the development of a new museum to replace their current outdated and limited-space location. The museum asked the Tribe to consider helping with a new display to replace the “A Tribute to Survival” diorama built in 1993.

The Cultural Committee accepted the task of supporting this effort, under the auspices of the Tribal government, and it is anticipated to take approximately five years. MPM has requested a presentation by Tribal Members to portray how the Sokaogon Chippewa are progressing in modern society and to share the many positive accomplishments achieved over the last several decades. The Sokaogon Chippewa, like most Tribes in the United States, deal with a long history of misunderstandings and misconceptions of what it means to be Indian in this country. The depictions of Native Americans through films and television has established misconceptions which have been, for the most part, highly difficult to address.

The overall story will include past events that drew nationwide attention. The Sokaogon faced serious racial tensions during the 1980s with spear-fishing and anti-mining confrontations. This unfortunate period drew media attention as threats to the lives of many Tribal Members were a daily event. The long-standing Treaty Rights held by the Sokaogon and authored by the U.S. government were completely misunderstood, causing negative attitudes and racial tensions. Tribal Members exercised their rights to hunt, fish and gather in traditional ways within the Ceded Territories, and sportsmen were on the offensive because of a misconception that the Tribe was taking more fish than normally permitted by Wisconsin laws.

With the advent of Indian gaming, the Tribe opened its casino in 1991, and the realization of self-sufficiency and commercial business diversification was quickly underway. MPM will learn of the many accomplishments of the Tribe and our bright future. This important project will serve as an addition to the museum, and these stories will be properly portrayed for future generations. For more information, email Cassandra or call 715-522-0757.