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The Ojibwe of Wisconsin signed three major land cession treaties with the United States in 1837, 1842, and 1854, ceding their entire homeland to the U.S. and establishing reservations for four Ojibwe bands in the state. In each treaty, the Ojibwe retained their rights to hunt, fish, and gather on ceded lands in Wisconsin.  

Historical Background

1976 A test court case led to a series of appeals and decisions which ultimately resulted in a 1983 ruling from the U.S. Federal Court, affirming the Lake Superior Ojibwe bands' rights to hunt, fish, and gather off-reservation.
1983 The Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe tribe established an ad hoc commission on racism to examine relationships between Indian and non-Indian communities in northern Wisconsin. As a result of animosities rising from the court's interpretation of Ojibwe treaty-based rights, the commission held a series of hearings to gather community testimony. The commission report called on the Department of Public Instruction and the American Indian Language and Culture Education Board to enact legislation and develop curriculum focusing on Wisconsin Indian history, culture, and treaty rights issues.
1987 The American Indian Language and Culture Education Board drafted a resolution (87-1) which called on the Department of Public Instruction and the American Indian Study Committee to enact requirements for teaching Wisconsin Indian history, culture, and tribal sovereignty in Wisconsin's public schools.
1989 As a result of escalating tensions between Indians and non-Indians over Ojibwe treaty rights issues, several legislators developed an initiative requiring study of Wisconsin Indian history, culture, and tribal sovereignty in public schools. The 1989-91 state budget appropriated funds for creation of an American Indian Studies program.

Funds were to be used to:

  • hire staff to implement the requirements set forth;
  • locate and/or develop curricular, classroom, and resource materials;
  • provide training for teachers;
  • conduct conferences and workshops to aid local public school districts to begin teaching Wisconsin Indian history, culture, and tribal sovereignty.

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School Requirements

Local school districts were required to include the provisions of Wisconsin Senate Bill 31 (biennial budget) in their local school curriculum by September 1, 1991. As part of the curriculum effort, the legislation required that the state superintendent of schools develop a curriculum for grades four through twelve on Chippewa treaty rights, in cooperation with the American Indian Language and Culture Education Board. This publication is available from the Department of Public Instruction (Publication Sales, WI Department of Public Instruction, Drawer 179, Milwaukee, WI 53293-0179).

Three additional requirements which affect local school districts and teacher training institutions were also part of the initiative. One required that local school boards provide an instructional program at all grade levels designed to give pupils an understanding of human relations, particularly with regard to African Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians. The second required post-secondary teacher training institutions to include the study of Wisconsin Indian history, culture, and tribal sovereignty as part of the human relations code requirement for teacher licensing, beginning July 1, 1992. The third statutory provision, included in the 20 Standards (i.e. part of DPI's audit on public schools), required each school district to include instruction on tribal groups in Wisconsin, twice at the elementary level and once at the secondary level, commencing September 1, 1991.

 

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Excerpts from Related State Statutes

  • Chapter 115 - State Superintendent: Gen. Classifications and Definitions: Handicapped Children
    • 115.28 General Duties
      • (17) American Indian Language and Culture Education
        • (d) In coordination with the American Indian Language and Culture Education Board, develop a curriculum for grades 4 to 12 on the Chippewa Indians' treaty-based, off-reservation rights to hunt, fish, and gather.
  • Chapter 118 - General School Operations
    • 118.01 ( c) Citizenship. Each school board shall provide an instructional program designed to give pupils:
      • (7) An appreciation and understanding of different value systems and cultures.
      • (8) At all grade levels, an understanding of human relations, particularly with regard to American Indians, Black Americans, and Hispanics.
    • 118.19 Teacher Certificates and Licenses
      • (8) Beginning July 1, 1992, the state superintendent may not grant to any person a license to teach unless the person has received instruction in the study of minority group relations, including instruction in the history, culture, and tribal sovereignty of the federally recognized American Indian tribes and bands located in the state.
  • Chapter 121 - School Finance
    • 121.02 School District Standards
      • (1) Each school board shall:
        • (h) Provide adequate instructional materials, texts, and library services which reflect the cultural diversity and pluralistic nature of American society..
        • (L)(4) Beginning September 1, 1991, as part of the social studies curriculum, include instruction in the history, culture, and tribal sovereignty of the federally recognized American Indian tribes and bands located in this state at least twice in the elementary grades and at least once in the high school grades.
 
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