Two UW Programs at Bad River
During the first week of August, 2011, faculty and students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison descended on the Bad River Indian Reservation. Dr. Patty Loew, who had coordinated two prior tribal youth media programs, set out to conduct two simultaneous programs: a Global Health Field Course for undergraduates and a tribal youth media program for area adolescents. Because the two programs would be science and health focused, it made sense to utilize the networks at Bad River for both courses like scientists, respected elders, tours of the Kakoagon Sloughs.
To run the youth program, Patty recruited PhD student Tim Tynan who had also helped co-coordinate the previous tribal youth programs at the Lac Courte Oreilles Indian Reservation. She also had help from PhD student Reynaldo Morales and her son, Dominic Braga. Patty and her assistants worked with eleven reservation youth to develop mini-science documentaries that would be shown at a formal gathering on Friday, August 5th.
Mining Threat Takes Center Stage
Respected elder and outreach specialist Dana Jackson was responsible for coordinating the events, tours, and outings of both groups at Bad River (no small task!). He was charged with providing an appropriate context for both undergraduates and tribal youth to explore relevant science and health issues during the first week of August. From Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, he tapped Peter David, wild rice expert and wildlife biologist. Peter joined Naomi Tillison from the Bad River Conservation Department as our resident scientists.
From the community, Dana asked elders Joe Rose and Star to guide the narratives for both groups. The ever loomig mining threat at the Penokee Range was the inescapable context for elders and scientists when discussing health and science issues at Bad River. The mine as proposed, is an iron taconite mine that would operate for 30 years upstream from the Kakoagon Sloughs and the Bad River Reservation. The Sloughs, which have been called the "Bayous of the North" is one of the most treasured ecosystems in North America. Teeming with wild rice (manoomin), the sloughs are a cultural and ecological treasure. Threats to the sloughs whether from mining or invasive species are the focal point for water specialists and conservations in the area.
"Its a threat to our identity as a people, in many different ways."