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Cultural Mapping Project to Document Stories of Bad River Watershed

Jun 11, 2014

Midwest Environmental Advocates has been telling people from across Wisconsin and the country that Citizen Voices Matter in the Penokee Hills. And since a proposed open-pit iron mine and weakened mining laws have galvanized Tribal and non-Tribal communities alike, telling the stories and history of the people of the northern Wisconsin region is more important than ever.

That's why we are excited to see the outcomes of this collaborative project. Cultural mapping is an important tool to document how language, history, faith and place overlap. While scientists map the complex network of streams and wetlands in the Bad River watershed or the migratory routes of birds, fish and other animals, we also need documentation of the cultural history and value of the area. Please visit the mapping events if you will be in Ashland or are heading to the Bad River Pow Wow this month.

Here is more from the project organizers: 

Personal stories of the Bad River watershed will be collected in a unique cultural mapping project that is a collaboration of the UW-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. The Bad River Water & Culture Maps Project is part of an ongoing public conversation about the Bad River watershed and the Lake Superior Basin. On a map as a big as a billboard, project facilitators will collect stories from the public about northern Wisconsin’s Bad River watershed—stories about land and water that define this area and its people, and stories of people who are visiting the shores of Lake Superior for the first time. Join in this conversation, share your story, and participate in this larger-than-life exhibit of the Bad River Water & Culture Maps Project.

Participatory story mapping events will be held on June 22 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Bad River Pow Wow Grounds, and on June 28 - 29, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. both days, at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland, Wisconsin.

Mashkii Ziibi, which translates as “wetland medicine” river, is the original name of the Bad River.  A place of deep history and tradition, the Bad River watershed is water-rich, with trout streams, waterfalls, artesian wells, and the Kakagon-Bad River Sloughs - the largest undeveloped coastal wetland on Lake Superior. The Bad River Indian Reservation is located in the lower part of the watershed. Tribal members and other residents of the watershed are concerned about threats to water quality and their communities.

Jessie Conaway of the UW - Madison Nelson Institute is working with Bad River Ojibwe community members, including elders and youth, to produce the Bad River Water & Culture Maps. This series of maps about the Bad River watershed is a multi-media collection of voices, histories, and culture of the Bad River Ojibwe tribe. The maps include a booklet, poster and website, all sharing Ojibwe culture, values, and stories about these places. The large interactive watershed map provides the opportunity for others to contribute their own stories about the Bad River watershed and Lake Superior.

The Bad River Water & Culture Maps Project is sponsored by the Wisconsin Humanities Council, the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, and the UW Madison Nelson Institute. For more information about this project, contact Jessie at (608) 790-7425 or via email at dconaway@wisc.edu.

/ tagged: wetlands, mining, great lakes