Great Lakes Native Culture & Language The Ways

The Ways is an ongoing series of stories from Native communities around the central Great Lakes. This online educational resource for 6-12 grade students features videos, interactive maps, and digital media exploring contemporary Native culture and language. The Ways supports educators in meeting the requirements of Wisconsin Act 31, seeking to expand and challenge current understanding of Native identity and communities. The Ways is a production of PBS Wisconsin Education.

Project Goals

  • Expand and challenge knowledge and understanding of contemporary Native American culture and language.
  • Explore the role of language and culture in Native identity and community empowerment.
  • Provide resources to assist in meeting Wisconsin Act 31 requirements and Wisconsin Model Academic Standards for Social Studies.
  • Leverage digital media to support accessibility, engagement, and integration of learning resources in educational contexts.

Advisory Group

  • David O'Connor is originally from and is a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (Ojibwe) in northern Wisconsin. In January 2012, he became the Education Consultant for the American Indian Studies Program (AISP) at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. In David’s current role, he supports school districts’ efforts to provide instruction in Wisconsin American Indian history, culture, and tribal sovereignty, also known as Act 31.

  • Aaron Bird Bear is the second American Indian Curriculum Services coordinator supporting the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's integration of American Indian Studies content, the histories, cultures, and sovereignty of the eleven American Indian Nations in Wisconsin, into teacher education programs. Bird Bear (Mandan, Hidatsa, & Dine' Nations) received his Educational Leadership Policy & Analysis masters degree from UW-Madison and previously coordinated American Indian Student Academic Services, a unit supporting American Indian & Alaska Native students at UW-Madison.

  • Ryan Comfort is a member of the Keweenaw Bay Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (Ojibwe) and served as the American Indian curriculum consultant for the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His work focused on infusing American Indian studies content into teacher education programs in response to state educational requirements. Ryan is now in graduate school at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

  • Tyler Blue Tarpalechee is Muscogee (Creek) from Okmulgee, Oklahoma. He was the 2012 valedictorian from the Institute of American Indian Arts, where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in creative writing and film. In 2012, he accepted a new role as project coordinator at NAPT. Blue is currently assisting in all of behind-the-scenes work and logistics of the in-production series, Growing Native. He is also the organization's team leader on the development of all PBS Learning Media resources in partnership with PBS stations nationwide.

  • Ben Grignon teaches art at the College of Menominee Nation. He helped found the grassroots organization, Mawaw Ceseniyah, which works to revitalize language and culture for the Menominee people. He is a student at the Menominee Language Institute and hopes to become a teacher at the Institute when he completes the program.

Project Credits