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The MenomineeNation

The nearly 3,500 Menominee of Wisconsin control an area of about 222,000 acres. Here the reconstituted tribe continues to grow and recover from the devastation of the last 50 years. Yes, the last 50 - not 500 years. In the early 1950s the federal government of the United States applied a policy called "Termination". The policy was to end the special relationship between tribes and the government. Along with this went the protection of the lands of the Menominee and their established rights and relationship with the state. What had been a reservation became a county; the property of the Menominee that had been exempt from property taxes was now taxable; lands that had been preserved for use by the Menominee were now open to commercial logging. Since the Menominee were a poor people, as were the vast majority of Native Americans in the 1950s, they had no recourse or resources to fight the policy or its effects.

Within twenty years, the destruction of the culture and people called the Menominee was so apparent that Congress passed the Menominee Restoration Act to restore the special trust status of the Menominee lands and guard the interests of the Menominee people. (ENAT, 130). It is from 1973 that the Menominee have begun to reemerge from their nightmare.

The Menominee - the "Wild Rice Men" derive their name from the Algonquin term
"manomin" which means "good berry". The English translated that to mean "Wild Rice Men" from their harvesting of wild rice from the Great Lakes region they inhabited.

Today the Menominee celebrate their lands and culture on their tribal seal (seal provided by the Menominee Nation, Tribal HQ). This seal appears on a white flag to represent the Menominee Nation. The circular seal of the Menominee Nation bears a red "Thunderbird", one of the paramount creatures in Native American lore. The thunderbird is often depicted as an eagle, but the Menominee employ a more traditional depiction. Some people believe that the thunderbird actually represents a real bird, one seen only rarely today - the condor. The tail of the thunderbird shows a white upward pointing arrow, symbolic of the bright future now facing the Menominee people.

Two other devices appear in the seal, one over each of the thunderbird's shoulders. To the viewer's left appears a map of the reservation upon which a pine forest is depicted. Over the right shoulder is a cross section of a log. Both the pine forest and the log emphatically point out the importance of the timber industry to the sustaining of the Menominee way of life. In the last few years, like many other federally recognized tribes, the Menominee have entered the gaming industry as a way to provide income for the tribe and jobs for many of the tribe's people.

Don Healy, Bisbee, Az 85603