Water resource protection through the lens of Native American communities

Water summit participants set priorities for future research, education and outreach.

In late October, Associate Dean John Shutske and LSC Ph.D student Christina Rencontre joined tribal leaders , educators, researchers and funders in Keshena to discuss the cultural, economic, recreational and health-related importance of protecting water resources through the lens of Native American communities.

The two-day Tribal Water Resources Summit attracted participants from UW-Madison, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, and the University of Rhode Island as well as the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College and College of the Menominee Nation. Representatives from several tribes from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan attended along with officials from USDA-NIFA, EPA and several state agencies.

Patrick Robinson and Rebecca Power of UW’s Environmental Resources Center helped facilitate the planning portion of the summit. Participants brainstormed about collaborative programs and projects that would integrate protecting water resources with community values. These programs include:

  • summer science camps for youth related to water
  • experiential wild rice camps for youth and adults
  • water resources curricula for both tribal and non-tribal youth.

The Summit was held in partnership with the College of Menominee Nation’s Sustainable Development Institute, the University of Wisconsin-Extension and several other groups.

Sponsors included the College of Menominee Nation Sustainable Development Institute, UW-Extension, University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension, Salish Kootenai College, Montana State University-Extension, National Institute for Food and Agriculture, Great Lakes Regional Water Program and the North Central Region Center for Rural Development.