This past weekend on Milwaukee’s lakefront was the annual Indian Summer Festival; a three-day celebration and appreciation of the 11 Native American Tribes here in Wisconsin.
That’s 11 federally recognized tribes with their own unique people, languages, communities and contributions to our state– according to a recent census, did you known there are approximately over 53,000 Native Americans living here in Wisconsin?
In fact, that makes up about 10% of our State’s population.
This past week I had the opportunity to sit down with the President of one of those 11 tribes: Shannon Holsey of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians.
With the tribes land-base in Shawno County, Shannon is not only one of the youngest elected tribe leaders, but holds two masters degrees and knows this specific reservation better than anyone because, well, she grew up there.
“I sort of allude it to, like, ‘Jenny from the Block.’ I’m one of those girls that grew up on the reservation and went to the local high school.”
President for about a year now, Shannon has seen the growth of her tribe change over the years,
“When I grew up there was a limited amount of resources, there [were] gravel roads… I describe our community center as one basketball hoop and a slab of cement…”
But one thing that’s stayed consistent? The sense of community and understanding within the tribe.
“What I [have always] appreciated most, in retrospect, is the fact that there was always a great sense of community.”
And today, Shannon not only sets and example for other young female leaders, but is also working towards more education within our state, specifically, informing non-Native Americans about the local tribes and cultures in our backyard,
“A lot of people don’t realize that there are 11 Native American nations within the state of Wisconsin… And they vary! And we’re all unique in our own right.”
For more on Shannon’s tribe, the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians, listen to my full interview above and check 0ut their website www.mohican.com.
For information on all of the tribes of Wisconsin, you can find facts and more at www.glitc.org/tribes .