Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Tribes and Forest Service host 2-day Shared Learning for Co-Stewardship

Led by University of Minnesota-Duluth's Tribal Sovereignty Institute, staff from the Superior National Forest, Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, and Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa shared cultural history & worked together to enhance co-stewardship

Duluth, Minn – March 20, 2024 – Staff from the Superior National Forest, Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, and Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa recently met in Grand Portage to engage together in a training facilitated by the University of Minnesota Duluth's Tribal Sovereignty Institute on "Shared Learning for Co-Stewardship."

In May 2023, the Superior National Forest and the three Bands signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for co-stewardship between the government entities for environmental stewardship, protection of Ojibwe cultural life-ways (living cultural resources and Tribal Cultural properties), enhancing opportunities for sustainable economic development (education, training and employment), supporting the Tribes' right to self-governance, advancing Environmental and Social Justice, and setting parameters on issuing special use permit or land exchanges within the Superior National Forest and trust lands within the 1854 Treaty boundaries in ways that will not negatively impact Treaty reserved rights.

The two-day co-stewardship training addressed Indigenous tribal sovereignty, treaty rights and trust obligations, MOU government to government consultation and coordination, Tribal and USDA Forest Service government structures, past and present Federal Indian Law and policy issues, laws, and regulations, policies of national forest system management, history and culture of the three Bands, and traditional ecological knowledge and tribal stewardship priorities.

Within the training, the group discussed shared resource management priorities, Tribal access concerns, and ensuring Treaty reserved rights are maintained and enhanced.

Joseph Bauerkemper-UMD Tribal Sovereignty Institute described the purpose of the training as, "While we aren't responsible for the past, we are accountable for what we bring to the present-which isn't a clean slate for how we shape the future." Kevin DuPuis, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Chairman similarly stated, "We are co-stewarding for the 7 Generations-to bring the past to the present to secure the future for our unborn."

"This co-stewardship training immensely helped our Forest Service staff understand the past to work together in co-stewarding the future. It helped us identify shared land and resource management goals and commonalities and helped engage our commitment to upholding Tribal treaty rights, now and into the future, said Tom Hall, Forest Supervisor – Superior National Forest, "Through formal consultation, trainings and engagements like these, we connect on shared objectives for relating to National Environmental Policy Act projects and priorities, enhancing access for Tribal Treaty rights, preserving culturally significant areas, and ensuring special use permits and land exchanges maintain inherent tribal sovereignty."

An additional part of the training, the Grand Portage Band hosted Forest Service staff on a day tour to learn from the Band's forestry and natural resources staff. SNF staff learned about tribal forest management priorities by visiting sites within the reservation, while incorporating pieces from the training and consultation, including the importance of giizhik (cedar) as a medicine, wild miinan (blueberry) fields (prescribed burning, opening forest areas) and ininaatig maple stands iskigamiziganing ('sugar bush') and examples of Grand Portage Band co-management relationships (federal and state).

"We began this shared learning training initiative because we want Forest Service staff and leadership to begin thinking the way Anishinaabeg think about the forest and adopt best practices – forest management that is adaptive and incorporates culturally specific species needs and interconnectedness of these species on other natural resources," said Secretary/Treasurer April McCormick, "We know that this training will have a lasting impact on the institutional knowledge of the Superior National Forest leadership and staff in a way that positively impacts current and future forest management."

For more information on the MOU and co-stewardship, please visit our website Tribal Relations webpage and our Flickr Tribal Relations album.

URL for Superior National Forest Tribal Relations webpage:

URL for Superior National Forest Tribal Relations Flickr album:


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