Indigenous Peruvian leaders visit College of Menominee Nation

Oct 23rd, 2013 | By | Category: 25-3: Preserving and Protecting Knowledge, Tribal College News
By Patrick Waukau
SHARING THE KNOWLEDGE. Indigenous leaders from Peru meet with representatives from CMN’s Sustainable Development Institute. Photo by Patrick M. Waukau

SHARING THE KNOWLEDGE. Indigenous leaders from Peru meet with representatives from CMN’s Sustainable Development Institute. Photo by Patrick M. Waukau

A delegation representing over 300 Indigenous groups in Peru visited the Menominee Nation to learn about the tribe’s natural resource governance, institutionalization of natural resource education, and tribal, state, and federal government relations regarding natural resources. The delegation met with representatives of the College of Menominee Nation (CMN, Keshena, WI) who informed them about resource management during their visit. The U.S. Forest Service helped arrange the visit as part of its International Program.

Peru boasts the second largest area of Amazon rainforest, as well as coastal desert and Andes Mountains ecosystems. Classified as one of the world’s 17 “megadiverse” countries, Peru hosts more than 23,000 species of plants and animals, 6,000 of which are endemic. Although Peru’s government has made efforts to protect its natural heritage, illegal logging and other challenges to sustainable forest management continue to present a significant threat to Peru’s forest ecosystems, particularly in the Amazonian regions. The Peruvian delegation wanted to share information with other Indigenous peoples who are currently practicing sustainable forest management on tribal lands. They also sought to learn how tribes maintain cultural and environmental identity through the education of their own people.

The Menominee Nation is known around the world as a prime example of sustainable forest management. The Menominee reservation is home to one of the longest continually managed sustainable forests in the United States. The delegates wanted to learn some of the practices and methods the Menominee people use to keep their forest healthy and thriving while being a sovereign nation within the U.S. As Walter Saenz, Director of the Peru Forest Sector Initiative stated throughout the two day meeting, “We were not wrong in coming here.”

The visit included a presentation on Menominee history—from the tribe’s creation story to the development of CMN’s Sustainable Development Institute (SDI). Chad Waukechon, CMN vice-president, helped with the welcome, while CMN faculty member Paddy Brzynski and SDI director Chris Caldwell provided an overview of the Menominee tribe. CMN president Verna Fowler articulated the role that the college plays in preparing future leaders and bringing the community together through a variety of projects.

The dialogue also included discussions on how the Menominee tribe incorporates its environmental philosophy into its education system. CMN and the Menominee Nation recognize the need for a balance between the environment, community, and economy, both for the short term and for future generations. Menominee culture stresses never to take more resources than what is produced within natural cycles so that all life can be sustained. As Marshall Pecore, Menominee Tribal Enterprises forest manager, stated, “Rule number one…is that you have to keep all the pieces because you never know how all the parts fit together.”

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