First Nations

Grant #6: First Nations Heritage Tour

Left to Right: Bob Sorge, President, Madison Community Foundation; Aaron Birdbear, Assistant Dean, Student Diversity Programs at UW-Madison’s School of Education; Dan Brown, Executive Manager, Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison; Robert Birmingham, mounds specialist, and co-author, Indian Mounds of Wisconsin

A $75,000 grant to the Office of American Indian Curriculum Services at University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Education is facilitating a collaboration between the Madison Metropolitan School District, UW-Madison, the Ho-Chunk Nation and other partners to produce a community history project.

The first-of-its-kind, place-based educational initiative will feature storytelling, interpretive signage and displays highlighting history, culture and tribal sovereignty. 

By engaging with the material, educators and students will learn about the unique qualities and significance of the Late Woodland Society and effigy mound building culture, and develop awareness and appreciation for contemporary First Nations culture.

“When we embarked on our 75th anniversary journey earlier this year, we wanted to make a difference for the many entities that steward the unique natural and cultural treasures that make Madison so special,” said Bob Sorge, President. “Our community is home to extraordinary Native American effigy mounds and we’re honored to help tell their story with educational materials that will enlighten current and future generations.”

Both landscape images on this page are Effigy Mounds in the Madison area. Photos by RAHurd (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

“The rich, 12,000-year human story of DeJope, the four lakes region now known as Madison, has been largely undermined by a lack of appropriate signage and a shortage of accessible educational resources, particularly at the elementary school level,” said Aaron Birdbear, Assistant Dean, Student Diversity Programs at UW-Madison’s School of Education. “This project will encourage learning and awareness of the First Nations of Wisconsin—and in particular the Ho-Chunk Nation and their relationship to the treaty-ceded lands of Madison—as well as work to improve multicultural understanding and acceptance in the Madison community.”

The First Nations Heritage Tour is a partnership of American Indian Curriculum Services, Ho-Chunk Nation, Madison Metropolitan School District, a Madison-area effigy mound specialist, Dane County’s Title VII Indian Education coordinator, and Wisconsin Historical Society.

About the Office of American Indian Curriculum: The American Indian Curriculum Services Office is designed to provide faculty, staff, and students in the School of Education with information on Wisconsin’s American Indian history, culture, and tribal sovereignty.

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