Faculty members across the UW-Madison campus are engaged with Native Nations through a wide range of research on human health, the environment and natural resources, and other fields. The following list represents an attempt to provide the first comprehensive list of these projects. While we have done our best to be inclusive, there may be projects and partnerships of which we are not yet aware. We will build upon this list as additional information and new projects emerge.

Health | Environment and Natural Resources | Culture and Education


The Collaborative Center for Health Equity (CCHE) is part of the NIH-funded UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research. CCHE works to promote underserved, minority, and immigrant health; to increase health equity and improve health outcomes; and to assist in the development of health-care providers’ and researchers’ skills in intercultural communication. The center has relationships with tribal, urban, and rural partners throughout the state of Wisconsin, in addition to state and local government collaborations. Our staged partnership approach allows us to create and nourish long-term, mutually respectful, and trusting partnerships with members of underserved communities.

Alexandra Adams, M.D., UW School of Medicine and Public Health

Healthy Children, Strong Families (HCSF) is a community-based, multimodal, early childhood intervention which addresses the growing problem of childhood obesity. HCSF directly involves parents and primary caregivers of preschool-age American Indian children in making family-based healthy lifestyle changes. An initial small HCSF trial showed promise in reducing adult BMI and child BMI z-score in overweight/obese AI children, increasing adult/child fruit/vegetable intake, decreasing TV/screen time, and increasing adult self-efficacy for healthy behavior change.

Alexandra Adams, M.D., UW School of Medicine and Public Health

Increasing Culturally Congruent Nursing Care for American Indians in Wisconsin, in partnership with the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council (GLITC), seeks to improve the quality of nursing care for American Indian patients by promoting culturally congruent nursing practice. GLITC staff and UW-Madison academic partners scheduled talking circles at each of the four project sites: Lac du Flambeau reservation, Bad River reservation, St. Croix tribal community, and Milwaukee. Participating in the talking circles were nurses, tribal elders and patients from the tribal community. Members of the talking circles were encouraged to share their beliefs, views, concerns, experiences, and stories about the health care system in an atmosphere of open communication. The second objective is to attract middle school and high school students to careers in health care, most especially nursing.

Audrey Tluczek, UW-Madison School of Nursing
Kara Schurman, Great Lakes Inter-tribal Council, Inc.

The Native American Center for Health Professions (NACHP) seeks to improve the health and wellness of American Indian people by:

NACHP works with prospective students, current students and health professionals to serve as a central location within the UW School of Medicine and Public Health for opportunities of growth, professional development, mentorship, research and support. We offer innovative ways to continue to enhance our pathways of Native health professional students, as well as keep students connected to Native health and wellness issues.

Erik Brodt, UW-SMPH
Melissa Greendeer, UW Staff

Spirit of EAGLES works in a multi-state region (Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa) to: Strengthen existing partnerships with Native and non-Native organizations to reduce cancer burden and increase access to beneficial interventions among American Indian/Alaska Native urban and rural communities.

Rick Strickland, UW SOE Program Director, 608-262-0072

The Wisconsin Environmental Health Network (WEHN) works in communities in western Wisconsin whose health is negatively affected by frac sand mining (including land owned by the Ho-Chunk Nation). WEHN seeks to work with health care providers who serve Wisconsin’s tribal communities to educate them and their patients on environmental health risks from mining and other industrial activities (including coal-fired power plants) in Wisconsin.

Ann Behrmann, M.D., Department of Pediatrics

Environment and Natural Resources

Agricultural research with the Ho-Chunk Nation. Two projects; one involves reviving a large block of agricultural land, Whirling Thunder, to produce organic row crops, vegetables and livestock. A second project involves the creation of a community garden in a subsidized housing unit.

Erin Silva, UW Plant Pathology

Chronic wasting disease investigation through the detection of the disease agents (prions) from soil and tissues of infected animals. This project includes investigation of an oxidant for use as a potential remediation tool for prion-contaminated soils.

Alexandra Chesney, Ph.D. Student, Department of Soil Science

Documenting the history of Menominee Indian agriculture and land-use in northeastern Wisconsin. In partnership with David Overstreet (College of the Menominee Nation), this project engages Menominee high school students and college students on a project documenting the history of Menominee Indian agriculture and land-use in northeastern Wisconsin. The size and spatial organization of the native agricultural communities have major implications for the cultural and ecological history of the region.

William Gartner, Senior Lecturer, Department of Geography

Forest regeneration resurveys and surveys of long-term change in Wisconsin forest communities. These demonstrate far better regeneration and retention of native biodiversity on tribal lands than nearby public lands. They therefore suggest that the Indians are acting as excellent land stewards with results superior to state parks and county, state, and national forests.

Donald Waller, Professor, Botany and Nelson Institute

Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR), the most recent addition to the National Estuarine Reserve System, is one of 28 areas across the country designated for long-term research on coastal resources and the human populations those resources support. NERR works with the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (Minnesota) and other partners in education, research and major NERR initiatives.

Erika Washburn, Lake Superior NERR

POSOH: Place-based Opportunities for Sustainable Outcomes and High Hopes, developed in partnership with Oneida and Menominee communities, helps prepare Native American students for bioenergy and sustainability-related studies and careers. POSOH aims to achieve that by offering science education that is both place-based and culturally relevant, attributes that have been shown to improve learning.

Hedi Baxter Lauffer, Researcher, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Research on cumulative land cover and water quality impacts of large-scale metals mining in the Lake Superior Ojibwe treaty-ceded territories, in coordination with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC). For Wisconsin, this work mainly involves assessing the effects of old metals mining.

Scott Cardiff, Ph.D. Student, Nelson Institute
Steve Ventura, Professor, Soils and Nelson Institute

Wolf harvest issues in the ceded territories. Research includes the development of a spatially explicit model that incorporates tribal boundaries, the ceded territory and tribal wolf management goals.

Tim Van Deelen, Forest and Wildlife Ecology

Wolf policy: Collaboration with Bad River to survey tribal attitudes to wolf policy in Wisconsin, and collaboration with Little River Band of Ottawa Indians in Michigan to evaluate the effect of state interventions to prevent livestock losses caused by wolves.

Adrian Treves, Associate Professor, Nelson Institute

Culture and Education

Act 31 Baldwin Grant Project helps PK-12 teachers in public schools teach the history, culture and tribal sovereignty of the American Indian Nations of Wisconsin. The Act 31 coalition consists of Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Wisconsin Public Television, Wisconsin Historical Society Press, Wisconsin Media Lab, UW System, UW-Green Bay and the Wisconsin Indian Education Association.

Aaron Bird Bear, School of Education, American Indian Curriculum Services

Endangered Language Fund: Healing Through Language includes efforts to preserve and revitalize native languages in Wisconsin.

Monica Macaulay, Professor, Linguistics
Rand Valentine, Professor, Linguistics

Interdisciplinary research on models of relevant science, health and environmental education for culturally distinctive communities of practice through collaborative place-based curriculums and pedagogies that incorporate indigenous knowledge systems. This research explores the levels of complementation between informal and formal science using educational communication and digital media as a transformative pedagogy that can potentially reconnect teachers, tribal communities and schools around sustainable relationships and outcomes. The project works with Bad River Ojibwe high school students, intertribal students from Chicago and Madison areas, as well as with Menominee, Mohican and Oneida students, around digital media sustainability cohorts that are having a positive impact on students identity, self-representation and cultural valuing, as well as promoting positive impacts on academic achievement and relationship with formal science education in schools.

Reynaldo Morales, Ph.D. Student

The Ojibwe Winter Lodge Project—an intergenerational, traditional arts project—opened in January at YMCA Camp Nawakwa on the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation. The project has been supported by the Wisconsin Humanities Council, the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe Language Program, the ENVISION Program, the Lac du Flambeau Public School, UW-Madison’s Collaborative Center for Health Equity (CCHE), the Native American Center for Health Professions, the Department of Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies (CLFS), and the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures.

Thomas DuBois, Professor, Scandinavian Studies

Tribal history video projects with the Oneida, Potawatomi and Menominee nations.

Mik Derks, Producer, Wisconsin Public Television

The Ways is an ongoing series of stories on culture and language from Native communities around the central Great Lakes.

Finn Ryan, Producer, Wisconsin Media Lab

The Tribal Libraries, Archives and Museums Project collaborates with Wisconsin’s native communities to provide continuing education and development efforts for cultural institutions. It is an experimental project to bring indigenous information topics to LIS education through service-learning, networking, and resource sharing with tribal cultural institutions. The TLAM Project currently encompasses a graduate topics course; Convening Culture Keepers professional development opportunities for tribal librarians, archivists, and museum curators; numerous community engagement projects with our partners; and a TLAM Student Group.

Louise Robbins, School of Library and Information Studies

Woodland Indian Traditional Artists is an online exhibit with images, text and sound files featuring 16 woodland Indian traditional artists from the Upper Midwest. Folklorist James P. Leary recorded and transcribed the interviews with the artists, while photographer Lewis Koch photographed them and their work. The featured artists represent Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Mesquaki, Ojibwa, Oneida and Potawatomi traditions.

James Leary, Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures