Wisconsin Behind the Scenes Blog Series: Menominee Tribal Enterprises

Monday, December 16, 2019

Wisconsin Behind the Scenes Blog Series: Menominee Tribal Enterprises

 

“...a forest is much more than cords and boards. It's a whole ecological process. Clean air, clean water, good soils, a place to gather.” -- Marshall Pecore

 

Photo Credit: James Edward Mills

 

The Menominee Tribe in Wisconsin has an incredible history of forest stewardship, and Chuck and the crew traveled to the Menominee Tribal Enterprises to see this decades-old business in action. Marshall Pecore, a descendant of the Menominee Tribe, is the forest manager of the operation in Neopit, Wisconsin. Our crew interviewed him about the rich history of their long-term, sustainable approach to timber, and how they harvest trees on their own tribal reservation.

 

Photo Credit: James Edward Mills

 

Although the Menominee tribe has lived in northern Wisconsin for thousands of years, as a result of a wave of restrictive treaties with U.S. government, their land was reduced from more than 10 million acres to 235,523 acres.

 

The sawmill, constructed in 1908, is a primary source of jobs for tribal members. With generations of experience, the tribe knows that their profit depends on a sustainable forest. Unlike other mill owners, they cut the diseased trees first, as well as any tree that won’t grow to be a thick, straight trunk suitable for milling boards.

 

The Menominee method takes into account not only the health of the tree, but the health of the surrounding organisms. Marshall explained how they survey the “assemblages”-- the plants on the forest floor-- to determine what species of tree would best thrive there. They also avoid felling “wildlife trees:” trees where animals like birds, snakes, porcupines, or raccoons have made their homes.

 

Photo Credit: James Edward Mills

Later in our trip, we met Wade Fernandez, or Wiciwen Apis-Mahwaew (his Menominee name), at Audio for the Arts, a recording studio in Madison. Wade plays traditional Menominee music on flute and guitar. He and Chuck played “Wild Horses” (written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones), Chuck was on piano (of course), and Wade accompanied him on native flute. Wade then treated us to our own private concert and played some of his original music solo. He regularly travels around the country and around Europe to tour his music. Take a listen: (link to music videos)

 

Photo Credit: James Edward Mills

Sources and additional information:

https://www.mtewood.com/Sawmill/History

https://www.mpm.edu/content/wirp/ICW-153

https://wadefernandezmusic.com/

 


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