Wisconsin schools are not meeting state mandate on Native American education – Wausau Pilot & Review
The Wisconsin Indian Education Association held a celebration of the state’s commitment to Native American education under Act 31 on Thursday, Aug. 18 at the Menominee Casino Resort in Keshena, with Native peoples from all over Wisconsin attending.
Act 31 is a remarkable piece of legislation. The law requires that primary and secondary public schools instruct students in the history, culture and treaty rights of Wisconsin’s Native Americans. The legislation was an outgrowth of the protests and conflicts between white fishermen and Native American spearfishers in the late 1980s. White protesters confronted Indians with racist shouts and signs at public boat landings in the late 1980s. But the animosity went much deeper than just fishing.
Act 31 struggles
The story of the law is well documented by J P Leary in his 2018 book, The History of Act 31. Leary is an associate professor at UW-Green Bay and was the American Indian studies consultant at Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) from 1990 to 2011.
The law had teeth, according to Leary. DPI would send out officials to inspect at least 10% of all school districts to examine curriculum and compliance with Act 31. The intent was to make contact with all school districts over the space of a few years.