Bisonette delivers Indigenous Peoples’ Day lecture

October 19, 2015
Jason Bisonette

PLATTEVILLE, Wisconsin — On Oct. 13, Jason Bisonette, cultural instructor at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School in Hayward, Wis., delivered the Indigenous Peoples’ Day lecture, “Manoomin: How Wild Rice Empowers Ojibwe Youth” in the Harry and Laura Nohr Gallery at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Approximately 80 students, faculty, staff and community members heard Bisonette’s message of history, sustainability and education.

Dr. Eugene Tesdahl, assistant professor of history at UW-Platteville and a specialist in early American, Native American and women’s history, invited Bisonette to speak to his class, Early Native American History and Colonial Borderlands, earlier in the day and then present the lecture in the evening.

“Generous support from the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, Olga and Ray Guest Lecturer Fund, Social and Environmental Justice program and Department of History made Jason Bisonette’s lecture possible,” said Tesdahl. “Events like this show UW-Platteville students the vibrancy of Native American life in Wisconsin and beyond. Bisonette’s talk touched lives across our community. It also welcomed LCO and other First Nations youth to our campus.”

Bisonette has taught at the Lac Courte Oreille Ojibwe School for 10 years. There, he works to integrate traditional Ojibwe lifeways into K-12 curriculum for more than 200 students. According to Bisonette, traditions – including harvesting wild rice, fish, game, maple sugar and more – shape the way students engage in math, science, history and language education.

Bisonette said that manoomin is central to this annual rhythm of education. Students harvest, manage, process, prepare and share wild rice. Units also equip them to manage and nurture manoomin beds in a sustainable way that is in line with Ojibwe tradition and conservation practices.

“Manoomin is at the heart of what it means to be an Ojibwe person,” Bisonette said. “The sound of wild rice hitting the hull of your canoe connects you to generations of Anishinaabe who heard the same thing. It reminds us that we will make it.”

As UW-Platteville pursues its vision of being recognized as the leading student-focused university for its success in achieving excellence, creating opportunities and empowering each individual, it is guided by four strategic planning priorities. The forum aligns with three of the priorities, including providing an outstanding education, fostering a community of achievement and respect and enriching the tri-state region. 

Formatted by: Laurie Hamer, College of Liberal Arts and Education, 608-342-6191,


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