Understanding the Land-Grant Context in Wisconsin

This library is an internal collection of resources that has been curated to provide colleagues with tools that can help bridge historic divides and to cooperatively build programs together with tribal communities. By providing these tools, this library allows colleagues to do their work with sensitivity, cultural humility, and with a social justice lens. The sources in this library were sought out from across the country and were chosen based on their explanation of the topic. This library is intended for Extension colleagues as well as Extension partners to return and engage with. Click each tab to access the information related to each topic area. 

Names and definitions

Names and definitions

When speaking about humans across the Western Hemisphere, it is important to use accurate terms that reflect that community’s preferences. Using correct nomenclature promotes cultural understanding and helps prevent the generation and spread of stereotypes. Being intentional with language acknowledges and respects the diverse culture, traditions, and languages that exist within and across Indigenous communities. 

Many of the following terms have been used interchangeably for decades. As language evolves, so does our usage and understanding of the impact of certain terms, especially those that have been assigned to Indigenous Peoples without input from the communities to which they refer. Terminology is personal and not all Native people will have and use the same preferred terminology. It is best practice to ask someone from a specific community how they prefer to be addressed. 

Sources follow the description.

  • Native American
    • The term “Native American” came into broad usage in the 1970’s as an alternative to “American Indian.”  Since that time, however, it has been gradually expanded within the public lexicon to include all Native peoples of the United States and its trust territories, i.e., American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, Chamorros, and American Samoans, as well as persons from Canada First Nations and indigenous communities in Mexico and Central and South America who are U.S. residents.
  • American Indians 
    • “The term American Indian is used to refer to peoples living within what is now the United States prior to European contact. American Indian has a specific legal context because the branch of law, Federal Indian Law, uses this terminology.”
  • Indigenous / Indigenous Peoples 
    • The word Indigenous is an inclusive term because it refers to Indigenous peoples across the world. However, it’s important to acknowledge the diversity of Indigenous Peoples’ cultures, traditions, and languages that exist
  • Tribal nations
    • Some phrases or even names of Native nations contain the word Tribe or a derivative (Tribal colleges, for example). It’s ok to use Tribe in these cases.
    • Don’t mash together several signifiers for Native nations. For example, don’t use Tribe and Nation together (such as, “Red Lake Nation Tribe”). It’s redundant.
  • Native Nations
    • Native nations are independent nations within a nation. The term nation shows respect for sovereignty and the fact that Native nations each have their own systems of government.
  • First Nations
    • Any number of peoples especially in Canada who are indigenous to the North American continent (Merriam- Webster)
    • In the 1970s Native Americans in Canada began to use the term First Nation as their preferred self-referent. The Canadian government adopted this use but did not furnish a legal definition for it. (Britannica)

Terms related specifically to land-grant institutions

Terms related specifically to land-grant institutions

Language is important in its meaning and usage especially when working with indigenous communities within our counties and areas. Below you can find a comprehensive list of commonly used terminology that applies to Extension, Land-Grant institutions, and terms relating to indigenous communities, their definitions, and when they should be used and applied.

  • Land Grant Institutions
    • A land-grant college or university is an institution that has been designated by its state legislature or Congress to receive the benefits of the Morrill Acts of 1862, 1890, and 1994, whose original mission was to teach agriculture, military tactics, mechanical arts and classical studies to bring a practical education to the working class.
    • LGU’s were built on and with Indigenous lands. The land was used not just for campuses, but sometimes the grant was located hundreds or thousands of miles from the beneficiary. 
    • There are three institutional categories of the land-grant system:
      • The 1862 Institutions are the first land-grant institutions
      • The 1890 Institutions are historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) 
      • The 1994 Institutions are tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) as established by the Equity in Educational Land-Grant Status Act of 1994
      • Later legislation also recognized additional institutional categories, including non-land-grant colleges of agriculture (NLGCAs) and Hispanic-serving agricultural colleges and universities (HSACUs), for specific programs.
  • Morrill Act 
    • The Morrill Act turned an estimated 11 million acres of Indigenous land into capital for endowing agricultural colleges, now known as Land Grant Universities, for the purpose of teaching the latest in agricultural science and mechanical arts. The Act, which allocated 30,000 acres to each state for each congressional seat, was passed by Congress and signed into law in 1862 by President Abraham Lincoln. These college endowments have grown exponentially since then, while the history behind this acquisition of wealth is rarely acknowledged.
    • Read the Morrill Land Grant College Act at USDA’s National Agricultural Library 
  • Treaty
  • Ratify
    • To sign or give formal consent to (a treaty, contract, or agreement), making it officially valid.
      • Source: Oxford Languages
  • Displacement 
  • Sovereignty
    • “Sovereignty is a type of political power, exercised through some form of government. Native American sovereignty is the ability of tribes to assert independent nationhood with the right to self-governance, including the ability to govern their territories, tax, and incarcerate.”
  • Self-determination
  • Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA)
    • “Passed in 1990, NAGPRA “provides a process for museums and Federal agencies to return certain Native American cultural items – human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, or objects of cultural patrimony – to lineal descendants, and culturally affiliated Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations.” It also “authorizes Federal grants to Indian tribes, Native Hawaiian organizations, and museums to assist with the documentation and repatriation of Native American cultural items,” and “establishes the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Review Committee.” For more information see the National Park Service website. Federally funded institutions such as federal agencies, public museums and universities, including the UC system, are subject to NAGPRA.”
  • Doctrine of Discovery
    • Dating back to a treaty written in 1455 as decreed by the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, the The Doctrine of Discovery stated that any European nation that “discovered” land received a title for it. This doctrine was reaffirmed by law and upheld by the Supreme Court in the United States in 1792 and 1823. It was reaffirmed more recently in 2005.
  • Terra nullius 
    • “Because the 1494 treaty stated that only non-Christian lands fell under the jurisdiction of the doctrine, places inhabited by non-Christians were considered terra nullius (empty lands), open for the taking.”
  • Reservation 
    • “A federal Indian reservation is an area of land reserved for a tribe or tribes under treaty or other agreement with the United States, executive order, or federal statute or administrative action as permanent tribal homelands, and where the federal government holds title to the land in trust on behalf of the tribe.”
  • Indigenous Peoples’ Day
    • Indigenous Peoples’ Day recognizes that Native people are the first inhabitants of the Americas, including the lands that later became the United States of America. And it urges Americans to rethink history. 
    • Urges Americans to see Native people as a pillar of the present, not as a forgotten episode in the story of the country’s development 
    • Rejects the celebration of Columbus, whose landing in the western hemisphere represents the beginning of colonial takeovers of the Americas, which led to death of Native people and forced assimilation of survivors.
    • There has been a movement to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day since the 1970s.



What are tools that are relevant to the work of Extension educators, faculty, and staff? Below you can find tools ranging from reference maps and teaching tools to videos and writing guides.

A conversation guide for Extension colleagues

  • This conversation guide was created by Tom Wenzel and Pam Larson to help support colleagues to create an understanding of land grant institutions and their relationships with indigenous communities and apply this to their work.

A resource guide for Extension colleagues

  • This guide was created by Tom Wenzel and Pam Larson. This guide contains information on the Morrill Act, the founding and funding of land-grant universities, the Wisconsin Idea, dispossession of indigenous lands through treaties and seizures, and reflective questions on how you might use this information in your work.

Online Resources To Expand Knowledge About Indigenous Peoples  

  • Native Knowledge 360° Education Initiative
    • This initiative is hosted by the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian and serves to transform teaching and learning about Native Americans. Here, you can explore educational resources and handouts, and learn about upcoming webinars, workshops, and professional development opportunities. 
  • Magazine of Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian 
    • Includes current and back issues 
  • Americans: A Dialogue Toolkit for Educators 
    • On the website, click “View” to access this toolkit, which can be used in connection with the Americans exhibit at the Smithsonian, but also provides basic grounding in the practice of dialogue and facilitation of new conversations with and among students about the power of images and words, the challenges of memory, and the relationship between personal and national values.
  • NDN Collective – LANDBACK U (LANDBACK University)
    • This is a free, comprehensive, online learning platform to engage in political education and discussions on topics critical to the Indigenous movement to reclaim land and relationship to land. 
  • Land Acknowledgements with Aaron Bird Bear and Omar Poler
    • The recording of the June Coffee Break features Aaron Bird Bear, Extension’s Director of Tribal Relations, and Omar Poler, Indigenous Education Coordinator with UW-Madison’s School of Education. Aaron and Omar lead a discussion on land acknowledgements with our NRI colleagues.

Writing Aids / Guides for Writing About Indigenous Peoples  


Tribal websites within the geography of Wisconsin

Tribal Websites within the geography of Wisconsin

Below, you can find a list of all the Tribal websites that exist within the geography of Wisconsin. The first nations listed represent the contemporary peoples that currently share geography with the present state of Wisconsin. As we continue to implement access in our work, we understand that Native Nation communities still exist and are not communities of the past. Please click the link under each title to access the website.

Please note that not all tribal nations are recognized by states or the federal government. According to the Department of Justice, ‘Federal Recognition’ is a legal term meaning that the United States recognizes a government-to-government relationship with a Tribe and that a Tribe exists politically in a “domestic dependent nation” status. Source: About Native Americans

As the nations below share geography with Wisconsin, when referring to the nations below, avoid possessive language when talking about geography. For example, avoid “Wisconsin’s First Nations”. Source: How to talk about Native Nations 

Tribal Nations within the geography of Wisconsin

First Nations Map

  • Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
    • This is the official site of the Bad River Band of Ojibwe. The tribe’s mission: “The Bad River Tribe Aims To Work Toward a More Progressive, Financially Stable Government, To Maintain Tribal Sovereignty; and Enable Members to Progress Individually, Towards a More Fulfilling Life Culturally, Spiritually, and Economically.”
  • Brothertown Nation
    • The official site of the Brothertown Indian Nation, this is the only one of 12 tribes that exist within Wisconsin that is not federally recognized. “Today, the Brothertown Indian Nation is one of 12 tribal nations and Indian Communities in Wisconsin and continues to operate under a Constitutional government. There are four officers (chair, vice-chair, secretary and treasures) and five general Council members. BIN leadership also includes divisions (e.g., Administrative, Cultural, Economic Development, Land Management, Environment and Natural Resources), as well as a judicial system, consisting of five Peacemakers.”
  • Forest County Potawatomi
    • This official site provides information about the cultural center, library, and museum established by the tribe, along with information about their business ventures, government functions and activities, and services available to tribal members.
  • Ho-Chunk Nation
    • The official site features general information about the Ho-Chunk Nation. You can find news, employment information, and more on this website. 
  • Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
    • The site features general information on the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Ranging from news to government information, you can explore this website to find more. 
  • Lac du Flambeau Tribe
    • The tribe’s mission: “To provide leadership for the betterment of tribal membership and descendants in the areas of health, education, welfare, economic / job development and the protection of natural resources.”
  • Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin
    • “Welcome to the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin. The Menominee Tribe’s history is unique because our origin or creation begins at the mouth of the Menominee River, a mere 60 miles east of our present Menominee Indian Reservation. This is where our five clans: ancestral Bear, Eagle, Wolf, Moose, and Crane were created. Not many tribes in this region can attest to the fact their origin place exists close or near to their present reservation. This is where our history begins. Explore and feel the history of the Menominee Indian Tribe from past to present.”
  • Oneida Nation
    • The official site features resources for educational materials, business information, details on government operations, and more.
  • Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
    • The official site features resources for tribal members, tourism information, details on government operations, and more.
  • Sokagon Chippewa Community
    • The site showcases resources and services for tribal members. “The Sokaogon Chippewa Community, Mole Lake Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, is located in the Town of Nashville, in Forest County, Wisconsin. The Reservation lies southwest of the city of Crandon, nestled among Mole Lake and Rice Lake.”
  • St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin
    • “The St. Croix Chippewa Reservation in northwest Wisconsin is scattered in a checkerboard of 11 separate communities over a four-county area. Tribal headquarters is located in the Burnett County reservation community of Big Sand Lake, near the unincorporated village of Hertel.”
  • Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians
    • This official site features the latest news and events for tribal members. 



The treaties listed below are the treaties that directly relate to the land across Wisconsin. You can explore the following Excel spreadsheet to find which treaties have shaped and impacted the land that you currently work and reside on. The links below each treaty title include a description for the related treaty.

Violence-backed treaties within the territory that UW Madison Division of Extension serves – Aaron Bird Bear

Please note that treaties were not made after 1871. Therefore, some indigenous groups may not be recognized by the federal government as sovereign nations, do not have reservations, or do not hold the same relationship with the federal government.

Foundations of land-grants, Extension, and the Wisconsin Idea

Foundations of land-grants, Extension, and the Wisconsin Idea

Below you can find webpages that can provide you with a full understanding of the land grant university system, our organization itself, and the Wisconsin Idea that may highlight the best parts of each concept. Understanding the foundations of the these three concepts and how they all relate to one another provides colleagues a broad overview of the systems that creates the narratives to how and where we incorporate our work across the state. Please click the title of each bullet to access the link.

The history of land-grant universities

The history of Extension

  • The history of Cooperative Extension 
    • Describing the creation of Cooperative Extension and specific touchpoints across its history, this webpage provides a brief overview of Cooperative Extension.
  • Extension’s impactful history 
    • Describing Wisconsin’s Extension’s history, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension homepage itself, the narrative provides a description that highlights Extension’s successes.
  • Transforming lives and communities
    • Similar to ‘Extension’s impactful history’ the successes of the organization are shared in a pamphlet, such as the initiative to “Supporting Wisconsin’s agriculture industry”.

The Wisconsin Idea

Extension's efforts

Extension’s efforts

This subsection is currently still in development.

External organizations

External organizations

Below you can find organizations staffed by and serving the tribal nations of Wisconsin. Several are also dedicated to educating non-indigenous populations in the state about the tribes’ history, culture, current affairs, and how discriminatory practices have impacted their land sovereignty and wellbeing. We recognize that this list is not comprehensive and are continually adding organizations as we learn about them. Please click the title to access each organization’s website. 

Current conversations

Language acquisition and preservation

Language acquisition and preservation

Many of the indigenous languages in Wisconsin only have a handful of fluent speakers remaining, and most of those are elderly. In this section you’ll find tools relating to learning the languages and information on efforts to preserve and teach them to younger generations. The resources in this section of the library provide access to information on the languages spoken by the 12 tribal nations in Wisconsin. All resources come from the tribes themselves. Please click on the subtitle to go to the related website. 

Brothertown language resources

  • Brothertown Indian Nation Language
    • From the site: “Our parent tribes are Algonquian, and all spoke an Algonquian variant. Mohegan was the language that was sustained the longest by our parent tribes. It is also the language chosen by the Brothertown for study.” This site showcases links to common phrases, a modern Mohegan dictionary, and to the online Mohegan Language Project.

Ho-Chunk language resources

  • Language Apprentice: Bringing back the Ho-Chunk Language
    • This story details the experiences of an apprentice in the Hoocak Waaziija Haci Language Division, a branch of government that the Ho-Chunk Nation created to preserve the language as a living language. From the site: “Apprentices sign a six-year contract with Hoocak Waaziija and commit themselves to learning and later teaching the language. They are matched with a Master Speaker, with whom they spend time learning the language through immersion. Masters and apprentices spend as much time as possible together, doing everyday things like shopping or cooking, discovering shared interests and new conversations.”
  • Hoocak Waziija Haci Language Division
    • At this site you can learn about efforts to preserve the Ho-Chunk language. “The Hoocąk Waaziija Haci Language Division is dedicated to ensuring the Hoocąk Language continues to be a “LIVING LANGUAGE”. As a sign of respect to our elders, and the speakers that have come before us. We will continue to speak our language, celebrate our customs, respect The Hoocąk value system and teach our future Generations the “HOOCĄK WAY OF LIFE”

Menominee language resources

  • Menominee Language Revitalization
    • The story on this site details Ron Corn’s labor of love to raise his daughter Mimikwaeh as a first-language speaker of Menominee. The Menominee language is endangered as most tribal members speak only English. Visitors to this site will also find suggested lesson prompts and additional resources about the Menominee Language.
  • Center for Menominee Language, Culture, and Art
    • From the website: “Our mission is to provide the highest quality Menominee language instruction through a convergence of ancient and modern culture and to continue the education of current and future instructors. The vision of the Menominee Language Institute is to make Menominee Language the first official language of the Menominee Reservation.”

Mohican and Munsee language resources

Ojibwe language resources

  • The Ojibwe People’s Dictionary
    • The Ojibwe People’s Dictionary is a searchable, talking Ojibwe-English dictionary that features the voices of Ojibwe speakers.
  • The Language Warrior’s Manifesto
    • By Anton Treuer, published by Minnesota Historical Society, 2020
    • This book chronicles the author’s journey as he embarks on learning his mother tongue of Ojibwe and charts a path for others to be able to learn the language as well. He describes how he worked with elders to find Ojibwe words for things and concepts for which words in that language didn’t previously exist and how, through this collaboration, he created stories that teach children not only the language but also cultural foundations. 
  • Wadookodaading
    • Ojibwe language immersion school
    • Waadookodaading is an Ojibwe language immersion school located on the Lac Courte Orielles Reservation. From the web site: “Waadookodaading, “a place where people help each other,” is part of an international movement that seeks to revitalize indigenous languages, many of which are in danger of never being spoken again. One way communities are attempting to revive these languages is through indigenous language medium classroom instruction. This means that the language of instruction in the school classroom is the relevant indigenous language, and is not English.
  • At Waadookodaading, preschool through third grade is taught all of their school lessons using the Ojibwe language. The approach replicates how many people learn a language: by hearing and speaking, and eventually through reading and writing. The students come from English speaking families and homes, so all of the students are bilingual, able to communicate in both English and Ojibwe. By the end of kindergarten, most students at Waadookodaading know two alphabets and writing systems.”

Oneida language resources

  • Oneida Language Revitalization Program
    • This site features information on the history and structure of the Oneida language, along with a dictionary and other resources for studying and learning the language. The site also includes several games to help in the language learning process.

Potawatomi language resources

  • The Language of the Potawatomi
    • Elder Jim Thunder offers vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation guidelines for the Potawatomi language through three books, all of which are accessible via this site. Each book is divided into chapters that focus on specific categories, such as eating phrases, words for trees, fishing phrases, and moons of the year. Every word and phrase includes an audio file so learners can hear the correct pronunciation. The site also includes a link to a Potawatomi dictionary available for purchase.

Research and traditional knowledge

Research and traditional knowledge

As Extension colleagues across the state use evidence based research for their programming and work directly with indigenous population across the state, it is important for Extension colleagues to understand the impact that Western based research practices can have on indigenous populations. Through the following materials, colleagues can see that mainstream research practices can often be exploitative. The following articles provide perspectives on ways to decolonize research methodologies, center indigenous ways of knowing, and center perspectives that can guide Extension work. These articles can be found under the journals listed in the citations.

  • Books to teach the history, culture, and tribal sovereignty of the 12 native nations within the geography of Wisconsin
    • At this site you’ll find a curated list of 65 titles for various ages.
  • Brown, L. David & Tandon, Rajesh. (1983). Ideology and Political Economy in Inquiry: Action Research and Participatory Research. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 19(3):277-294.
    • Annotation: This article does not explicitly address race, but it is consistent with anti-racist and decolonizing research methodologies. The article shows the contrast between pseudo-decolonizing approaches and liberatory approaches.
  • Denzin, Norman K., Lincoln, Yvonna S., & Tuhiwai Smith, Linda. (2008). Handbook of critical and indigenous methodologies. Los Angeles: Sage.
    • Annotation: This is an international collection, and while it concentrates on indigenous methodologies, it also includes perspectives from other identities. 
  • Tuck, Eve. (2009). Suspending Damage: A Letter to Communities. Harvard Educational Review, Vol. 79 No. 3
    • Annotation: This essay critiques academics’ tendencies to use a victim frame in researching people who are struggling against oppression, exploitation, and exclusion. 

Indigenous Communities – United States

  • Tuck, Eve & Yang, K. Wayne. (2012). Decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education, & Society, Vol.1, No. 1.
    • Annotation: This article critiques the idea and practice of decolonization and how it can be appropriated for colonizing purposes.

Indigenous Communities – Canada

  • Wilson, Shawn S. (2008). Research is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods. Winnepeg, MB: Fernwood.
    • Annotation: This book is an Opaskwayak Cree perspective on knowledge and research that can inform our work as Extension faculty and staff. 
  • Panel on Research Ethics. (2018). TCPS 2 (2018) – Chapter 9. Research Involving the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples of Canada. Government of Canada.
    • Annotation: This is the official research ethics policy of Canada. The principles expressed in this document can guide research with any community.

Indigenous Communities – Autearoa/New Zealand

  • Tuhiwai Smith, Linda. (1999). Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. London: Zed Books.
    • Annotation: This famous book was the start to thinking about exploitative research and alternatives to it. This reference is the first edition.
  • Tuhiwai Smith, Linda. (2012). Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. London: Zed Books.
    • Annotation: This famous book was the start to thinking about exploitative research and alternatives to it. This reference is the second edition.
  • Mane, Jo. (2009). Kaupapa Māori: A community approach. MAI Review, 3, Article 1.
    • Annotation: This article looks at the challenges and possibilities for implementing Kaupapa Māori research practices (first outlined by Linda Tuhiwai Smith) through academic institutions.

Indigenous Communities – Bangladesh

  • Datta, Ranjan. (2018). Research ethics, Vol. 14, Issue 2.
    • Annotation: This is a personal perspective on how a researcher can decolonize themselves to engage in decolonizing research.

Building culturally responsive materials

You may be interested in building culturally responsive materials for the indigenous communities in your area. Building culturally responsive materials requires time, commitment, and collaboration to ensure equity in the materials. Consider reviewing the following presentation and reaching out to the OAIC for a follow-up coaching and consultation session with our team.

Culturally Responsive Practices 

Learning Objectives:

  • Frame what our educators should know about their localized context
  • Apply the theoretical foundations of Culturally Responsive Practices (CRP) to Extension’s educational programs and products
  • Examine samples of CRP within the context of their strengths and limitations

Ready to dig in? Culturally Responsive Programming PowerPoint

Annotated Bibliography

Culturally Responsive Practices Handout

The Zoom can be found at this link

Additional Resources:

Building relationships

The relationship building process is meant to be tailored and intentional. For questions on building relationships, please submit a Coaching & Consultation request through OAIC’s Support Request form found on the homepage.