College of Menominee Nation Celebrates Menominee Restoration Through Education
College of Menominee Nation
KESHENA, Wisc. – The College of Menominee Nation (CMN) will celebrate its 30th
anniversary with the theme of Restoring Nations Through Education, highlighting significant
milestones in its history.
The college's anniversary coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Menominee Restoration Act of 1973, which reversed an earlier act of Congress to terminate Menominee's status as a federally recognized tribe. CMN's President Christopher Caldwell says the college has a mission and tradition of advancing restoration through its degree and certificate programs.
"Both anniversaries are significant to our college's work to restore our sovereignty and traditional culture," said Caldwell. "We will reflect on the impact of tribal termination policies and celebrate the progress of restoration over the past half-century. The creation of tribal colleges and universities, particularly CMN, is a powerful expression of sovereignty and self-determination."
The college will host various events over the next year to recognize its extraordinary history and achievements.
Termination of the Menominee
In 1961, the United States terminated the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin's status as a federally recognized tribe. The federal government rescinded the trust status of the land, which became a county land of Wisconsin, and cut off federal funds for essential services.
Extreme poverty and social disorder forced the Tribe to sell a sizable portion of the land it retained to help the people through a tough time. When the Menominee learned of the plans for an artificial lake and luxury homes for non-Indians, they aggressively protested the project.
In 1972, the Determination of Rights and Unity for Menominee Stockholders (DRUMS) blocked the project, a massive victory that ignited the movement to restore federal recognition and the sovereign status of the Tribe.
In a timely opportunity, DRUMS successfully lobbied the U.S. Congress to pass an act to restore Menominee's status as a federally recognized tribe. President Richard M. Nixon, known to be sympathetic to Native American interests, signed the Menominee Restoration Act into law in December 1973.
Restoring Nations Through Education
For the past 50 years, the Menominee have made considerable progress in undoing the negative impact of federal termination efforts, including establishing the College of the Menominee Nation. Dr. Verna Fowler, a former member of the Menominee Restoration Committee, which implemented the Restoration Act, began instructing the first classes in the basement of her home in January 1993.
Since then, the college campus has grown, occupying 46-acres on the Menominee reservation with a satellite campus in Green Bay. It has become a driving force for restoring the culture, economy, and overall health of the Menominee Indian Tribe and other tribal nations whose students attend and graduate from CMN.
For the Menominee, restoration is about the livelihood of the people who depend on sustaining the surrounding forest lands and ecosystem. This unique relationship is a primary focus of CMN’s Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) where Caldwell served as the director before becoming president in 2021.
A large part of his research at SDI concentrated on the impact of climate change on Indigenous language revitalization efforts. He says that the Menominee language and culture contain the understanding and values for sustaining forest health.
"Menominee's culture and language are rooted in our relationship with the environment," he explained. "The Menominee language is currently a highly endangered language with only a small handful of fluent speakers left. Therefore, the impacts of climate change threaten not only our forested home but also our knowledge expressed through language and culture."
For more information about the College of the Menominee Nation, visit www.menominee.edu.