Wisconsin’s Act 31
written by Mrs Caroline Andler
Since 1991, as part of the social studies curriculum, all Wisconsin school districts must include instruction in the history, culture, and tribal sovereignty of the federally recognized Indian tribes and bands located in the state of Wisconsin at least twice in the elementary grades and at least once in the high school grades. They must also provide adequate instructional materials, texts, and books in their libraries.
This Bill came about because the Ojibwe around Lake Superior, even though they’d signed treaties with the Federal Government giving up their lands and settled on four reservations, insisted they never gave up their hunting and fishing and the right to gather rice on the ceded lands. Eventually the Federal Courts agreed with them. But that period in Wisconsin was very racially charged – protests at the lakes, with people carrying guns, wearing t-shirts that said Kill an Indian, save a fish etc… Animosity was so high that the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa formed a commission that held hearings. What finally resulted after many years – was Act 31.
Patty Loew has been a fantastic advocate for including the Brothertown in the 12 tribes of Wisconsin. Below is a teaching aid that goes with her book “Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal”.