SPEAKER • EMCEE • LACROSSE • MASCOTS & LOGOS • DANCE • ART • MAMMALS
SPEAKER • EMCEE • LACROSSE • MASCOTS & LOGOS • DANCE • ART • MAMMALS
Organizations and schools are just becoming aware of these statements or dealing with the first wave of public reaction to their writing. Land Acknowledgments or “Territorial Acknowledgements” first started in Canada and are about recognizing the historical existence of specific of Indigenous populations in their homelands. The acknowledgment applies to the home base for the organization, or where a special event is being held. These statements are often recited before an event or meeting starts. In the years since this custom has developed, much has been learned, where things go wrong, and where they can go best. The writing of the statements and where to apply them is far more complex than most think. The process of writing one for your organization or school requires research and care far beyond what most people may want to invest. A good Land Acknowledgment requires time and thought. This offer can be either presented as a class experience, or a consult that walks writers through the process from starting the idea to completing the statement for approval.
Prep time required; time as allowed for independent research and questions
Program Run Time: One hour
Ages: 12 and up
One of the most toxic barriers to education about American Indian people are the images of us being depicted in beads, feathers, and furs without context. Simply stated, stereotypes stop progress. If a teacher asked their class to draw a picture of Native people on a sheet of paper, we’d know better where to begin our lessons. To get at this stereotype, being direct and authentic is best. This program is one of the popular of our offers. Students have a chance to read, learn and experience our culture of art and dance by being a part of the experience. This is fast moving program that allows students to actively listen, engage and ask questions. They will also have a chance to learn about the music and learn the basics of Pow-Wow dance.
Prep time (optional) recommended book and work sheet – 30 minutes
Program Run Time: 45 minutes to an hour
Ages: all ages
Dancing at the Bear River Pow Wow held at Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin.
Lacrosse is a truly American sport that has gone worldwide and is one of the fastest growing sports in Wisconsin. Our Great Lakes Nations have their own origin stories about this great game, and customs that go with it. The sport has many iterations, from the outdoor style of play with no boundaries, protective equipment, or rules, to the indoor version with little or no contact that can be played in a basketball court. No matter the age and ability, some basics keep things in common and inviting enough so people can enjoy the game as observers or participants. Many people see this game as a game for elites, too expensive to provide students, but it is in reach of every school to offer in their physical education experiences. The programs I offer vary from learning about the indoor contact game with minimum needs to a more full experience where I bring in all the protective equipment needed from helmets, arm pads, shoulder pads, gloves, goals, sticks, balls and ability to mark the field for play. For those with lacrosse programs, the piece that is often missing is the cultural values and perspectives that are unique to the Great Lakes understanding of the game. Let us talk about what you would like to explore as an offer to your community!
Prep time: as needed
Run time: One hour program to one week residency
Ages: 10 and up
The conversation about race and representation is often controversial because of the inherent subject matter, which is race. It seems in these modern times, touching subjects about race is asking for trouble. Bringing someone in that the subject can be directly about can make for a great teachable moment. One of the last vestiges of public racial representation is found in sports teams. The major American professional sports right down to school sports teams have all faced, or will face the subject of race based mascots because Native American referances are built into the fabric of sports team names. I attended Marquette University when the college was known as “Warriors”. In my second year, I was named to be the person that represented the University at basketball games. At the time, we were told that that Native people deserved and needed to be represented the way they wanted, as they defined. Decades later, after many years of public debate and peer reviewed research more information has come forward about race and representation. This program on race-based mascots and logos takes an informed approach on the subject from educational research findings and informed by generally accepted marketing strategies. These two perspectives take the highly charged question of race out of the equation, and asks, “what is this really about?” I use my own personal experiences while at Marquette University and am open to questions after a short presentation framing the issue, not in racial terms, but human terms and in the language if business strategies. I let people come to their own conclusions of what us right or wrong. What does the taking is the student initiative in their work.
Prep time: 90 minutes
Presentation time including Q & A: 45 minutes
Post class discussion: 30 minutes
Ages: 10- school board & community members
In my Sophomore year at Marquette University, as First Warrior
There is a world of nature all around us, and we don’t often see it. This is especially true for our urban areas. The truth is we do see it, we just don’t recognize it or have a chance for a hands-on experience in the classroom. This program is about getting students familiar and interacting with Wisconsin’s fur bearing mammals and the Indigenous perspectives that will help shape their understanding. We are a part of the world with our animal relatives, and sometimes we need to be their voice. First, we have to learn where we come from, our understanding before we can understand something or someone else and that take experience, lessons and work to interpret. European stories of animals are far different than the Indigenous understandings of our relatives. This program brings in the animals most students see only in books or on screens. If animals are around most move at night when students are asleep. I bring in examples of our big and small paw relatives so students can touch the fur, get a sense of their shape, size and characteristics. They get a chance to hear Indigenous stories about a few of the stars of the program. The main stars are usually the mouse, rabbit, bear and wolf. Students can ask questions, move around and fill in questionnaires about what they are seeing. Teachers can customize the program for their area and student interests.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Program time: 40 minutes
Review and story time: 30 minutes
Images inside images inside images… This genre of goes by different names, X-ray , “Medicine” painting, Woodland style or Woodland school of art and was informed by centuries of Great Lakes crafts before it became known to the art world several decades ago. It’s modern incarnation with paper, charcoal and color was made famous by the late Norval Morrisseau, an Anishinaabe artist from Northern Ontario. This style of art is informed by images like the ancient petroglyphs and pictographs that can be found right here in Wisconsin. At its heart, the style asks that we as artists and observers look inside the main form that is presented for the meaning and purpose. The images we most commonly see relate the stories of relationships between ourselves, story, animals, clans, messengers, world views and spiritual existence. Art class participants that learn this style are reminded that this is a unique Indigenous art form, and our concentration is to learn the complexity and artistry required to do it. Artists learn by doing and will do it together. The integrity of the source material is respected, so when the lesson is provided, we use more modern shared images to reflect our shared world, informed by an Indigenous discipline. Students and teachers will benefit from the experience because it asks of the artist to go beyond a two-dimensional representation in a two dimensional medium.
Prep time: 45 minutes
Class time: Time as allowed
Post Presentation and Discussion: as time allows
A Journey of the Young
by Norval Morrisseau 1990
I greet you.
My name is Marin (Mark) Denning, an enrolled tribal member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin. I have been involved in public education programming for over 40 years. From my time as a student at Marquette University to being an adjunct lecturer at a university in Milwaukee, I’ve spent the time speaking for and about Native issues. Out of all those years, the two things I’ve become sure about is that everyone needs help, and it is an honor to help those who need it. In education, we all need help because our process is a reciprocal relationship between us and our students. Our challenge is meet them where they are at — the more we seek the truth, the more truth-telling is needed. It takes time, conversation, and commitment to get the best program fit possible.
When it comes to educating about Native people, one of the best strategies is finding truth in the voices of Native people.
The needs of organizations are unique, and that is why I offer a diversity of programming. I am here to help amplify the voice of Native American components in schools, civic organizations, entertainment, and culturally specialized events that require strategic and authentic voice. Everyone’s time is valuable, and no one program will fit every need. More programming options create more ways to fit your needs. Let us connect and find a subject and method that can meet your needs.
For our public schools in Wisconsin, there are a dizzying array of requirements facing school boards, administrators, program providers and teachers. Some of those requirements are regarding Wisconsin Act 31. Each school has a chance to meet this mandate with integrity and responsibility. One of the best ways, is to make room for authentic Native American presence from the board room to the classroom to our fields of research and athletics. To learn more about these mandates that require the teaching of Indigenous culture, heritage, history, and treaty rights - please go to this web site:
We learned from our ancestors and the people who came before us. Our teachings have stood the test of time and hold valuable knowledge to guide us into the future. Sharing these teachings can foster understanding and hope between different groups of people.
As an experienced presenter and emcee, I will bring new life and connection to your next event. Contact me, and we can design a workshop or presentation that fits the needs that you have today.
For more information on fees and availability, send me a message. Tell me about your event, and I will get back to you soon with more information.
Mark Denning, Cultural Speaker & Educator
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