Menominee Erect Cedar Cultural Center

Nov 15th, 2000 | By | Category: 12-2: Land is Life, Tribal College News

Orman Waukau, head of the CMN pre-apprentice carpentry program; Dr. Verna Fowler; Steve Biggs, president of Town & Country Cedar Homes; and Bob Schweder, a staff member for U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold. Photo by Antonio Ruales

In August the College of the Menominee Nation (CMN) dedicated its Cultural Learning Center on the reservation in central Wisconsin. This was the 17th center built in the American Indian Higher Education Consortium’s (AIHEC) national initiative to create repositories for art and culture at each member institution. The cultural learning centers result from a partnership with the National Association of the Home Builders Log Home’s Council, whose members have donated log material packages to 29 tribal colleges across the country.

CMN President Dr. Verna Fowler said the prime purpose of the center will be teaching the Menominee language. Alan Caldwell, director of the Menominee Cultural Institute at CMN, said the language is the lifeblood of the Menominee people.

The large, 64′ x 48′ cedar building is called Omaeqnonenewak Pematesenewak, which means “the Menominee Way of Life.” It features cedar log siding on the outside, cedar siding on the inside, and massive 18-inch diameter cedar posts and beams. Since the timbers are 100 years old, they were growing on the reservation when the Menominee language was spoken frequently. Caldwell estimated the value of the center at $350,000, almost half of which has been donated. The college covered $200,000 of the cost, he said. The basement will have a recording and listening lab for language, a computer lab for the veterans’ program, and archives. The new building will also be used for cultural programs, theater productions and musical events, classes, and community space for workshops and mini pow-wows.

The CMN Board of Directors honored some of the donors. Stephen Biggs, president of Town & Country Cedar Homes of Petoskey, Mich., and Tim Casey from Northern Visions of Eagle River, Wis., were given tribally-produced maple syrup and wild rice. The new building was funded by private sector grants from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and the Lilly Endowment and material donations from national companies, Carrier, Inc., Elk Roofing, and Kohler  Co. Local contributors included Arrowhead Construction, Knope Roofing and Furnace Co., Architects Group Limited, O’Kimosh Construction, Wilber Construction, and the Menominee Tribal Enterprise. Orman Waukau directed construction on the center, assisted by the CMN Pre-Apprentice Carpentry Class.

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