College of Menominee Nation: EPA Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge and a lesson in Great Lakes recycling 101
Dr. William Van Lopik, College of Menominee Nation professor of the Implementing Sustainable Development classes
The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin contributed over 4 tons of electronic and pharmaceutical waste to the EPA Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge.
This is the first of several vidoes explaining the tribes numerous projects that included cleaning up the reservation, replacing gang symbols with Native American art, teaching youth about the legend of the sturgeon and its place in tribal culture.
In part one, the non-profit interfaith Earth Healing Initiative looks at the many recycling projects of the College of Menominee nation.
(Keshena, WI) – The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin in Keshena is being praised for its massive cleanup projects during the EPA Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge – involving over 100 projects across eight states that comprise the Great lakes basin.
The college of Menominee Nation held a pharmaceutical and electronic waste collection as part of the EPA Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge.
Other tribal projects during the challenge included the clean up of two reservation communities by tribal school students, The Menominee Teen Court Panel, and many other volunteers.
All classes at the tribal school taught the students about the sturgeon, that is a vital part of Menominee legend and heritage.
Called the protector guardian of Menominee wild rice, the sturgeon used to spawn on the reservation until a man made dam blocked the route so the sturgeon could not reach their ancestral spawning grounds.
The students also whitewashed gang graffiti at a skateboard park replacing it with American Indian art.
Adults participated in the challenge in a big way – as the tribe’s Solid Waste and Recycling Department held curbside e-waste collections during Earth week 2008 – and all month accepted e-waste at the transfer station. Cardboard and other items are also recycled by the Menominee tribe.
Native American and other students also made garbage monsters at the Keshena Public Schools with help from their parents using common every day trash from home. The students made a presentation on how to be reuse stuff they normally thrown in the trash like plastic jugs.
More than four tons of e-waste and other recyclables – plus litter – was removed from the reservation during April.
Faculty and students brought their old computers, cell phones and medicines to an e-waste and pharmaceutical collection site at the tribal college in Keshena, Wisconsin to help a federal Earth Day challenge to clean up the Great Lakes Basin, while younger students cleaned up the reservation and whitewashed gang graffiti.
At the College of Menominee Nation, the Earth Day 2008 e-waste and medicine collections went smoothly as people turned in hundreds of items.
Over 23 pounds of medicines were turned in including 100 bottles of pills, more than 25 computers and dozens of related components like hard drives, printers, keyboards and speakers; televisions, radios, DVD players, 12 cell phones and over 100 small batteries.
The collection is among numerous Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin (MITW) projects that are part of the United States Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge that runs through the end of April.
Gang graffiti was whitewashed from a skateboard park wall near the tribal school by K-8 students. The MITW youth honored Earth Day and replaced graffiti with positive Native American symbols.
“The younger students put their hands in paint and made flower hand prints on the wall,” said teacher Beth Waukechon. “All week students have been cleaning up the reservation, and one student was so inspired she wants to start an Earth Club.”
On Friday, April 25, over 180 students cleaned up litter around the community of Neopit.
“The students are giving thanks to Mother Earth for all that she had done,” Waukechon said. “They are taking a moment each day to do that.”
“We know that Mother Earth can shake us off at any moment,” she said. “We are the ones that need her, she doesn’t need us.”
“Clean up the Rez Day” was held on Thursday, April 24 at the tribe’s Youth Development and Outreach program. The Menominee Teen Court Panel and volunteers cleaned up garbage, said Claudette Hewson, MITW Restorative Justice Coordinator.
The teen panel, ages 14 to 17, is a peer review for youthful offenders sentenced in tribal court who “need to learn healthy behaviors,” Hewson said. On May 2, at-risk teens will paint over more reservation gang graffiti.
Sponsors include the tribe’s Community Resource Center, Menominee County Police, Menominee Tribal Police, Tribal Clinic Wellness Program (Maehnowesekiyah), Probation and Parole, Community Recycling Project, Recreation Department, EarthHealing.org and the U.S. Post Office in Keshena.
Earth Week tribal school classes applied subjects like math, history and others to different aspects of the life cycle, biology and value of the sturgeon, an important fish to the Menominee tribe.
Overseeing the pharmaceutical collection was Heidi Cartwright, pictured on the left above, a part-time Manawa police officer and college police science instructor.
While hosting the collection, the college’s Implementing Sustainable Development class found out they won the National Recycling Coalition Bin Grant through Coca-Cola, said professor William Van Lopik, Ph.D.
“One of premises of the class is to do things, not just talk about what we are going to do and how the world is going to be changed, but having students do things,” Dr. Van Lopik said.
The grant pays for 50 recycling bins that the college plans to share with the tribal school.
The class has participated in the ten-week Recycle Mania project two years in a row that involves weighing recyclables as they leave the building. This year, the class ranked 136 out of 200 colleges and universities with 8 pounds of recyclables per person, beating out Ohio State and Georgetown, Van Lopik said.
The MITW held curbside pickup of electronics during Earth Week. A couple thousand pounds of electronics were turned in at the MITW transfer station since April 1. The total is expected to reach several tons.
Native American students recently created “Garbage Monsters” out of bottles, paper and other items found in their trash in a project at the Keshena Public Schools, said Diana Wolf, MITW Solid Waste/Recycling Coordinator. After naming their monsters, the students explained other uses for the garbage.
This video on the projects connected to the Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge was made possible by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in collaboration with the EPA’s Region 5 office in Chicago, the EPA Great Lakes national Program Office, also in Chicago, in cooperation with the non-profit Interfaith Earth Healing Initiative in Marquette, MI.
The EHI involves American Indian tribes and “a coalition of churches, synagogues and other faith traditions joining together to heal, protect and defend the environment,” said EHI founder Rev. Jon Magnuson of Marquette, Michigan.
I’m Greg Peterson and you’re watching Earth Healing TV
Related website about Keshena, Neopit, the College of Menominee Nation and Menominee County, WI:
Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin official website – homepage:
MITW Tribal School website:
College of Menominee Nation
Earth Healing Initiative Keshena, WI page:
Earth Healing Initiative:
MITW Maehnowesekiyah Wellness Center:
University of WI Cooperative Extention wesbsite page for Menominee tribe info like schools, college:
Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin Youth Development & Outreach
Youth Development and Outreach
W3191 Fredenberg Drive
P.O. Box 910
Keshena, WI 54135
Director: Darwin Dick
Great Lakes Inter Tribal Council
Samuels Recycling – Green Bay, WI:
Links to sites about Samuel’s Recycling in Green Bay (Buyer Mike Zastrow – 1-920-494-3451)
The College of the Menominee Nation (abbreviated CMN) is one of 34 tribal based community colleges in the United States. The college’s main campus is in Keshena, Wisconsin and has another campus in Oneida, Wisconsin. The college is one of two tribal based colleges in Wisconsin.
The tribal college was chartered in 1993. The college began offering classes in the 1993 Spring semester. The College of Menominee Nation was granted full accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission on August 7, 1998. The college is a member of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC).
National Recycling Coalition Bin Grant through Coca-Cola: