Connections: Northland College & GLIFWC
By Sue Erickson, Staff Writer
Odanah, Wis.—Encouraging Native Americans to take up careers relating to natural resource management continues to be a mission shared by both the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) and Northland College (Northland), located in Ashland, Wisconsin. The two entities have been long-time friends and over the years found ways to move forward on that mission.
From its inception in 1892, Northland has welcomed Native students. This commitment is evidenced by Northland's vibrant Native American Studies program and the Native American Indigenous Cultures Center which is dedicated to supporting Native families in a way that encourages pursuit of higher education.
While offering a full spectrum of course work and career choices, Northland's star seems to shine brightest on preparing students interested in sustainability and preserving Mother Earth—an effort that requires trained experts in a variety of fields.
Located on the Bad River reservation and about twelve miles from Northland, GLIFWC, formed in 1984, is committed to assisting its eleven member tribes implement affirmed off-reservation treaty rights and protect the natural resources upon which the tribes depend. With common threads of purpose to promote sustainability, the two entities have assisted each other and benefited each other over the years through the Native American Studies program.
Internships is one example of mutual benefit, with GLIFWC supplying hands-on field experience for students while receiving needed extra help. GLIFWC's Great Lakes Section relies extensively on interns to perform the annual siscowet assessments in Lake Superior. Starting in 1996 with one Northland intern, the program has hired two student interns since 1998. The interns also assist with sea lamprey control as well as juvenile lake sturgeon assessments and harvest monitoring.
"The cost saving is significant for us," states Great Lakes Fisheries Section Leader Bill Mattes. "We wouldn't even be able to do the siscowet assessments without the benefit of interns."
Similarly, GLIFWC's wild rice monitoring program gets a significant boost from Northland interns. Over the past twenty-five years, most have seen Northland interns surveying about 40 ceded territory wild rice lakes each summer, monitoring the growth and abundance of wild rice beds.
Several current GLIFWC staff worked first as Great Lakes Fisheries interns from Northland College, including Dan North, hired first as a wildlife technician and currently as a conservation officer, and Ben Michaels, now a GLIFWC fisheries biologist.
While not all serving as interns, ten Northland grads have joined the GLIFWC team as permanent, full-time employees. Northland graduate Mic Isham (1987 Northland graduate) from Lac Courte Oreilles serves as GLIFWC's Board of Commissioners Chairman and Joe Rose Sr. (1958 Northland graduate) and Ervin Soulier (1982 Northland graduate), Northland graduates from Bad River, also serve on the Board.
Joe Dan Rose, Inland Fisheries Section leader and 1985 Northland graduate, worked as a biologist for the Bad River Tribe prior to coming to GLIFWC. "Working in tribal natural resources management, both on and off reservation, I have seen a growing need for tribal personnel to provide the expertise required for tribes and organizations like GLIFWC to effectively manage and protect tribal resources. I believe this need will continue to grow," Rose comments.
The connections between GLIFWC and Northland College were substantially strengthened through Professor Joe Rose Sr. who provided leadership as director to Native American programming from 1974 to 2012, a thirty-eight year stint devoted to building the program. Rose also served as a Bad River representative to GLIFWC's Voigt Intertribal Task Force, so recognized how the two organizations could complement each other. He was also aware of the various career opportunities for Native students within their tribes and with GLIFWC.
"Natural resource management issues are front and center for tribes these days, and we need qualified Native people in natural resource positions," Rose Sr. states. "Not only does each tribe need to manage their own on-reservation resources, but we must be involved with the protection of off-reservation resources in the ceded territories. Without resources or with resources that are unfit for consumption, the treaty rights reserved for us by our ancestors are worthless. We need biologists, environmental biologists, geologists, botanists, policy folks, conservation officers—you name it—just to protect this Mother Earth and leave a promising future for our grandchildren. It would be great to see more of our Native people with the expertise to fill these positions!"
This is where Jim Pete (1979 Northland graduate) steps in as the director of the Northland's Native American and Indigenous Culture Center. The Center represents Northland's commitment to further promote outreach into tribal communities and help pave the way for more Native students to pursue the careers and qualifications Native communities need.
Pete, whose Anishinaabe name is Guyaushk (or Seagull), is a member of the Red Cliff Tribe. He has a bachelor of arts degree in an integrated major in Native American studies/business administration. He also went on to obtain a masters of arts in organizational management and a doctorate in business administration.
"When I was selected as the Director of the Native American and Indigenous Culture Center, it represented many things to me," Pete states. "One aspect is having the opportunity to come back to the Northland and work with current and potential Native American and Indigenous students. Another aspect is to achieve a stronger tribal presence on the Northland College campus, and also for Northland to have a stronger presence in local tribal communities."
Pete says he is pleased with the support shown by Northland College President Mike Miller and other members of the Northland College staff. "This kind of support allows further and future planning for expansion of cultural teaching, support to the student population, expanding connections between the college and tribal elders and leaders, and coordination with all the available resources at the tribal and college level to address diverse needs."
Pete says he looks forward to continuing the strong relationship already established with GLIFWC. "Both Northland and GLIFWC want to see more Native students graduating with the credentials to fill positions within tribal communities and tribal agencies like GLIFWC," he says. "The need and strong commitment are certainly there!"
For more information: Jim Pete at firstname.lastname@example.org.