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News Release

Connecting the Land and People: Working Effectively with American Indians Course Success

Madison, Wis. ‒ May 3, 2018 ‒ The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Wisconsin held a National Employee Development Center (NEDC) Training titled Working Effectively with American Indians on April 23-27, 2018. The Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians hosted the event and contributed significantly to the planning. The Wisconsin Tribal Conservation Advisory Council (WTCAC) served as the event’s sponsor.

Over 35 participants attended the training who are involved in USDA program delivery to Tribes and Sovereign Nations. This course increased participant’s understanding of topics including tribal government, treaties, tribal land status, trust responsibility and core values of our American Indian communities. Participants learned about Wisconsin tribes and the land history of our state. “NRCS programs are available to all customers, including American Indians from the 11 federally recognized tribes in Wisconsin. We are making a concerted effort to improve the USDA conservation program delivery and technical assistance to tribes in Wisconsin by training USDA staff in how to work effectively with the tribes,” said Angela Biggs, State Conservationist. “Our NRCS Wisconsin State Civil Rights Committee, consisting of members representing historically underserved communities, also played an integral part in the training. Committee members acted as moderators for each tribal training session.” The NRCS Wisconsin Civil Rights Committee is dedicated to providing counsel to create a positive diverse workforce environment and make NRCS services available to all people.

NRCS enters into cooperative and contribution agreements with tribal organizations that can help NRCS improve working relationships with tribes and works closely with other USDA agencies to promote a seamless delivery system to conservation programs. This training further amplified the aspect of cooperative partnerships with the Red Cliff Band and WTCAC to further the common mission of protecting our natural resources.  “We very much appreciate that Red Cliff leadership allowed us all to visit Spirit Island on Wednesday. Gary Haughn and Paul Johnson, both NRCS employees, have worked with the Tribe for a number of years to protect this important cultural site from streambank erosion.” Chris Borden, NRCS Soil Conservationist and Tribal Liaison. “It’s important for everyone to know the importance of the land and how we are all tied to it,” added Pat Pelky, WTCAC President.

Participants also learned the importance of the seven traditional Anishinaabe teachings vital to the Red Cliff Band and other Wisconsin tribal cultures, including wisdom, love, respect, courage, honesty, humility and truth. Tribes follow these teachings and also acknowledge the impact their decisions make and how they will affect the next seven generations, known as the Seventh Generational Philosophies. “The land and the soil, the relationship between the people and those two things are extremely important to nurture for future generations,” said Loretta Metoxen, Oneida Nation Tribal Elder.

After a successful training, NRCS Wisconsin has gained a historical perspective and knowledge of American Indians and is better equipped to partner with tribes across the state. NRCS would like to thank our tribal host, the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and partners, including WTCAC and NEDC. The warm hospitality and wise counsel of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, the experience and dedication of NEDC cadre, and the high level of engagement on the part of participants, were all critical to making the event a success.


Helping People Help the Land

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