Tracing American Indian Ancestry A common question that we receive is how a person can trace his/her American Indian ancestry. Unfortunately, there is no one-stop shop for finding this information; in fact, tracking this history can be very labor-intensive. Here are a few tips to help you get started if you believe you may have American Indian ancestry. 1. Access and read “A Guide to Tracing American Indian and Alaska Native Ancestry,” developed by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The12-pageguideisfreeandcanbedownloadedorprintedfrom:www. many questions that you may encounter throughout your journey and provides helpful suggestions on where to look for information. Please note that the Bureau of IndianAffairs (BIA) does not maintain a massive national registry or comprehensive computer database of American Indian and Alaska Native individuals, nor does the bureau conduct genealogical research for the public. 2. Make sure you have the right tools. Computer and internet access are helpful in genealogical searches, as many records and documents can now be found online. If you do not have computer access, you can start with yourself and your family history. Look through records that may be in your home or seek out information from relatives. 3. Determine your reason. There are many reasons why a person might seek to establish their ancestry as American Indian. Some people may want to enroll in a tribe, others may want to establish eligibility for services, or just learn more about their family history. Identify your own personal reason for establishing descent. If you are looking to become an enrolled member of a tribe, there will be specific information that you will need in find in order to do so. For more information, or to receive a copy of the guide write to: Office of Public Affairs–Indian Affairs, 1849 C Street N.W., MS-3658-MIB, Washington, DC 20240. By Paula Maday, Staff Writer Mequon, Wis.—Against the backdrop of the beautiful Lake Michigan, educators from all over Wisconsin came together at Concordia University on October19-21fortheWisconsinAssociationofEnvironmentalEducation(WAEE) Conference. Under the theme “Water Rising,” the conference provided the oppor- tunity for participants to share best practices, learn about community engagement efforts, and strengthen networks in environmental education, particularly around the theme of water. Conference co-chairs Chrystal Seeley-Schreck of the Wisconsin Technical College System, and Michael Beeth of UW-Oshkosh, recognized that this year’s theme had a lot of connotations. “Water is rising due to climate change; people are rising around the world in defense of clean water; unparalleled hurricanes are causing unprecedented flooding around the world; awareness about water issues is rising in response to your dedicated community actions and hands-on environ- mental education,” they wrote in the program welcome. In step with growing global and cross-cultural concerns related to water, WAEE turned their focus for this conference to include ways of embracing diver- sity, equity, and inclusion in environmental education efforts across the state. The opening ceremony included an indigenous pipe ceremony and a water ceremony. Water protectors and members of the Menominee Nation spoke, sharing concerns about environmental threats posed to their homelands by the Back 40 mine. The closing panel highlighted the work of UW-Madison Earth Partnership, GLIFWC, and Wisconsin Green Muslims, sharing cultural perspectives on envi- ronmental education. These major conference events bookended three days of workshops, field trips, and presentations intended to inspire and generate the tide necessary to carry environmental education efforts forward in diverse, equitable, and inclusive ways throughout Wisconsin. Barefoot in the grass, soaking up electrons Over 150 participants attended WAEE, choosing from over 50 sessions in five tracks. The tracks included: Stewardship,Advocacy and Community Engage- ment; Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Hands-on Environmental Education and Recreation; Early Childhood Environmental Education, and Innovative Best Practices in Environmental Education. Some specific session topics included engaging youth in water quality monitoring, water and spirituality, the rights of nature law in protection of global waters, and formative assessment practices in environmental education. On Saturday, I was fortunate to present to a full room on environmental edu- cation from an Ojibwe perspective. Many conference participants hailed from the southern part of the state and were unfamiliar with Ojibwe cultural knowledge, perspective, and history. It was a great opportunity to share information and make state-wide connections to enhance GLIFWC’s public outreach efforts. One of the most interesting sessions I attended at the conference was called Nature Heeling: Bioelectric Health. This session presented scientific evidence of the physiologic health benefits of touching the Earth. After a short PowerPoint on this practice—called Earthing or Grounding—our instructor led us in a short movement, awareness, and mindfulness protocol outdoors, our bare feet rooting into the Earth. Earthing is reported to help with a wide range of health concerns from inflam- mation to wound healing by reconnecting the human body to the Earth’s natural energy. This connection is increasingly lost as humans become more and more separated from the Earth by non-conductive materials such as rubber or plastic in our shoes, or flooring surfaces such as laminate or asphalt; the human body misses out on health benefits of exchanging electrons with the Earth.After the 15-minute protocol, I felt increased energy, improved mood, and clearer of mind. The change was drastic and lasted for days. What was also interesting about this session was hearing the practice of Earthing discussed using medical vocabulary, and recognizing its similarities to Ojibwe cultural practices that seek to achieve the same human connection to the Earth. The way it’s done isn’t the same, the ways it’s talked about isn’t the same, but the goal is the same. This session gave me a real sense of the humanity that connects us all. There are many opportunities to bond through similarities when we take the time to truly understand and appreciate diversity. The Adventure Gap Following the conference’s vein on diversity, equity, and inclusion, WAEE’s keynote speaker was James Edward Mills, author of the book The Adventure Gap. In the book, Mills explores the question as to why minority populations are much less likely to seek recreation, adventure, and solace in the wild outdoors. In his book, he writes, “It’s estimated that by 2042, the majority of US citizens will be nonwhite. Which begs the question: What happens when a majority of the population has neither an affinity for nor a relationship with the natural world? At the very least, it becomes less likely that future generations will advocate for legislation or federal funding to protect wild places, or seek out job prospects that aim to protect it.” Mills researches and recounts some of the history of the connection between African American people and the outdoors, then chronicles the first all African- American summit attempt on Denali, the highest point in North America. His speech was thought-provoking and encouraging, emphasizing the importance of people of all races and ethnicities to form and maintain relationships with the Earth. It was also a call to action for those working with minority populations, especially youth minorities, to foster opportunities for wilderness experiences and adventures. In the Ceded Territory, as we work to initiate our youth into traditional and cultural ways, we can’t help but initiate that relationship between them and the Earth. That is part of who we are as Anishinaabe. Still, we face many challenges that pull our youth in other directions and we must continue our work to motivate the next generations to become stewards for our Mother. As we closed the 2017 WAEE Conference, students from the Milwaukee Indian Community School sang a beautiful traveling song, sending everyone back to their waters and their homes in a good way. We have more work to do. Earthing and exploring The Adventure Gap at WAEE James Edward Mills gives the keynote address at the 2017 Wisconsin Association of Environmental Education Conference. One of his projects, The Joy Trip Project, is a newsgathering and reporting organization that covers outdoor recreation, environmental conservation and sustainable living. Visit his website at (P. Maday photo) MAZINA’IGAN PAGE 18 WINTER 2017/2018 • WAEE CONFERENCE •