The Electa Quinney Institute for American Indian Education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has a new head.
Mark Freeland comes to UWM from South Dakota State University. He is a member of the Bahweting Anishinaabe Nation, federally recognized as Sault Sainte Marie Chippewa.
Freeland takes over the leadership of the EQI from Margaret Noodin, who led the institute from 2014. Freeland says Noodin has created a strong foundation, particularly with regard to indigenous languages.
“There is so much interest in language revitalization at the moment that there are some very good partnerships to be made with local and regional communities who look to us for this kind of teaching leadership,” said said Freeland. “And that’s what Margaret did very specifically and what her expertise is.”
Freeland says UWM will add Potawatomi to its native language offerings in the fall. UWM already offers Ojibwe, Oneida and Menominee.
In addition to language revitalization, EQI focuses on supporting Native American students at UWM and training Native Americans to enter K-12 education as teachers and administrators.
“Starting with the boarding school issues, the fact that our children were stolen from us and effectively brutalized, and the ethnic cleansing within those boarding schools, created generational issues, especially around education,” Freeland says. “And one of the strategies is to train more American Indians as teachers and administrators. So that’s one of the main missions [of EQI.]”
Freeland also wants to incorporate more traditional knowledge into UWM courses. He gives the example of the processing of maple syrup.
“It’s one thing to talk about the maple grove in class, it’s another to turn the sap into sugar and maple syrup, and for students to learn about these processes,” he shares. he.
Freeland designates EQI Elder-in-Residence Vernon Altiman as someone who can lead these activities. With a new $3 million grant from Bader Philanthropies to support EQI’s work, Freeland says they can keep someone like Altiman for the long haul.
“Now, our eldest in residence, we can make sure we have stable funding for him over the next five years. So we can make plans outside of ‘What are we doing next semester? ‘”
The press release announcing the $3 million grant from Bader Philanthropies refers to the erosion of state funding, which has negatively impacted the EQI. Freeland says that at universities with limited funding, the humanities aren’t always a priority. Funding from Bader Philanthropies “takes the pressure off”.
“We can focus on the mission and the goals we’re trying to accomplish and really dream big,” Freeland says. “Rather than trying to work out what our next stream of funding will be.”
Editor’s Note: Margaret Noodin is now Associate Dean overseeing WUWM, which is a service of UW-Milwaukee.
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