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Tribe’s Ancient Agricultural Practices Are Focus of Grant to CMN’s Sustainable Development Institute


A new $219,000 grant will help concentrate attention on ancient agricultural methods of the Menominee People and perceptions about the historic life and practices of the tribe.


The Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) of the College of Menominee Nation will manage the award. Funding for the “Menominee Agricultural Practices, Historical Perceptions and Late Prehistoric Reality” project is through the Tribal Colleges Research Grant Program of the United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture.


Project collaborators include the noted archaeologist, Dr. David Overstreet, Makec Mihekan LLC; David Grignon, the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin’s Historic Preservation Officer; and Dr. William Gartner, Department of Geography and Michelle Miller, Center of Integrated Agricultural Systems, both at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Over the next two years, research topics will include Menominee raised-bed technology, late prehistoric agricultural villages and the historical characterizations of Native American agriculture. Undergraduate and high school researchers will learn about archaeological methods and techniques as they research Menominee agricultural practices. This work will take place on the Menominee reservation, at the College of Menominee Nation’s Keshena campus, and at UW-Madison.


The research team will explore how perceptions of Native American agriculture conflict with contemporary research done on the Menominee reservation that shows the Menominee possessed extensive agricultural knowledge.


Both professional research and student activities that have taken place at the College, through SDI and on the reservation provide foundations for the new project. Significant archaeological findings of Dr. Overstreet and colleagues have brought attention to “ancient garden” evidence in the region. Student engagement has included work by SDI’s high school youth program – the Sustainability Leadership Cohort (SLC). Most recently, SLC’s short video, “Digging into Food Sovereignty: A Student Led Exploration,” featured research done within the community and the Menominee Logging Museum’s demonstration garden display of techniques used throughout Menominee history.


Grant funding will enhance the SLC program through multifaceted activities designed to help the Native youth who participate to build college and career skills, expand their interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields of study, and a better understanding of the rich agricultural history of the Menominee.


Both high school and undergraduate interns will be hired in early 2018. Students will receive a stipend for participation in this program and have the opportunity to present their work at relevant conferences.


Information on Dr. Overstreet’s “ancient gardens” research, the student Sustainability Leadership Cohort, and other related efforts can be found at the CMN website,, or by contacting Christopher Caldwell, Director of the Sustainable Development Institute,, 715-799-6226, ext. 3145.