Brazilians and Africans Learn from CMN Visits

Nov 15th, 2006 | By | Category: 18-2: Traditional Wisdom Our Strength, Tribal College News

During the summer of 2006, the College of Menominee Nation’s (CMN, Keshena, WI) Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) hosted two indigenous groups, one from the Brazilian Amazon and one from Africa.

In May, indigenous leaders from the Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COAIB) gained insight on how the Menominee Nation has preserved its tribal forest and land base. COAIB is an association of 34 indigenous organizations based on ethnic divisions in the Brazilian Amazon.

The group came to learn about natural resource management and community structures in Native America. They plan to form an ethno-environmental department within COAIB to provide technical assistance to communities in their homeland.

In June, three other leaders from the Brazilian Amazon indigenous communities visited from the regions of Rondonia, Mato Grosso, and the Southern Amazon. They were investigating issues related to the sovereign rights of indigenous peoples by meeting with North American tribes, non-governmental agencies, and U.S. government representatives.

They also looked into the relationships between Native American tribes and local, state, and federal governments and agencies. They examined environmental protection and resource management activities of Native communities with particular focus on forestry, fisheries, and sustainable development. They also discussed tribal cultural and historic preservation issues.

The SDI organized tours of the Menominee Forest and the five communities on the Menominee Reservation. The visitors saw, firsthand, sustainable forestry management and the ability of the Menominee to maintain a reservation land base. The Brazilian groups learned how reservations were established in the United States and the resources needed to preserve the culture and land in the face of pressure from outside forces.

The Brazilians are especially concerned about retaining sovereignty, controlling resources in their respective regions, and holding on to their traditional lifestyles.

Educators from South Africa also visited CMN in July 2006 to examine, in their own words, “what is common in our histories on how our cultures can survive in a Western world and discuss the tensions of living in two worlds — the Western way of knowing the world and the traditional ways.” The South Africans were also interested in the challenges of preserving indigenous culture.

For more information, contact Melissa Cook, director, Sustainable Development Institute, at CMN, P.O. Box 1179, Keshena, WI 54135, at mcook@menominee.edu, or at 1(800) 567-2344. For more information about Menominee sustainable development practices, see TCJ, Vol. 17, N.2.

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