June 2, 2021

Students document history in First Nations course

L to R: Brianne Vigil, freshman, Social Work major; UW-Superior archivist Laura Jacobs; Dylan Johnson, junior, Exercise Science major; Carter Heimer, freshman, Transportation & Logistics Management major; Prof.  Chantal Norrgard

L to R: Brianne Vigil, freshman, Social Work major; UW-Superior archivist Laura Jacobs; Dylan Johnson, junior, Exercise Science major; Carter Heimer, freshman, Transportation & Logistics Management major; Prof. Chantal Norrgard

Students in assistant professor of First Nations Studies, Chantal Norrgard’s course, FNS 224: First Nations History II: 1830-present, got an education in documenting and sharing First Nations history in the present day. The spring semester class partnered with Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) and UW-Superior archivist Laura Jacobs to sort and archive some of the organization’s historical documents.

Norrgard, a new professor at UW-Superior, has long studied Indigenous rights and the continued misunderstanding and breach of treaties over the course of U.S. history.

“Treaties are living documents. They are not dusty and do not just live in the past,” said Professor Norrgard. Students in her course learned about federal Indian policy, colonialism, and “all the disruptions and injustices these things brought to Indigenous people’s lives,” she said. “We also learning about Indian resilience, how they survived and became the vibrant communities of today.”

Through the Academic Service-Learning project, students partnered with the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC), an organization that represents 11 Ojibwe bands, as well as the Mattson Family Archive in the Jim Dan Hill Library – a repository holding many types of historical documents and artifacts around the region. Archivist Laura Jacobs helped with the archival process and prepared the GLIFWC’s documents digitally for study and analysis.

The students summarized what they found in the documents, learning of legal cases and the scope of Ojibwe treaty rights, from early as 19th century to as recently as 1999, with documents and testimony from the US Supreme Court case Minnesota v Milles Lacs.

“Indigenous people assert their own rights over and over because treaties are not followed, even though the federal government itself created the treaties,” said Norrgard.

The product the students are creating is what is known as a “scope and content” document, which will be used at GLIFWC to make the documents organized and accessible to tribal members who may want to peruse and learn from them. As with any Academic-Service Learning project, the students meet a real community need along with their academic subject.

This is Norrgard’s first year at UW-Superior and first collaborative effort with this community partner. With this early success, she says she is excited to bring more hands-on learning opportunities to students passionate about First Nations history.

L to R: Brianne Vigil, freshman, Social Work major; UW-Superior archivist Laura Jacobs; Dylan Johnson, junior, Exercise Science major; Carter Heimer, freshman, Transportation & Logistics Management major; Prof.  Chantal Norrgard

L to R: Brianne Vigil, freshman, Social Work major; UW-Superior archivist Laura Jacobs; Dylan Johnson, junior, Exercise Science major; Carter Heimer, freshman, Transportation & Logistics Management major; Prof. Chantal Norrgard

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