Plan a journey to the lands of the Native Americans discovering and exploring again another incredible, surprising and exciting piece of America.
Made of nature, paths and unexpected landscapes. Legends, traditions, sacred places, dances and special music recalling – and preserving with love and extreme passion – the origins the history, the evolution and the social interactions of the many and variegated Native cultures which in origin populated this vast and boundless land, each with its own story, roots ad peculiarities.
An itinerant journey, unusual and very beautiful, aiming to tell, welcome, involve and amaze.
“Being a Native American is not only a matter of blood. It’s what there’s in your heart.
Love for the land, the respect for it and the people who live in it,
and the respect and reconnaissance of the spirits and elders. This is what it means being Indian.”
After have got the chance to discover and interact with several native tribes of the South West USA, Alaska and the Northern Pacific, this year – as always accompanied by Aianta, The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association, the official body dealing with promoting the Native Americans Culture – I had the chance to explore another wonderful portion of Indian land located between the Mid-West plains and the Great Lakes region, near the border with Canada: The Native Wisconsin.
A land populated in very ancient times (6000 B.C. about) and still today inhabited by 11 sovereign tribal nations, each with its own Constitution: Bad River Ojibwe, Forest County Potawatomi, Ho Chunk, Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Ojibwe, Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Menominee Nation, Mole Lake Sokaogan Chippewa, Oneida Nation, Red Cliff Band of Ojibwe, St. Croix Band of Ojibwe, Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans.
In all respects the greatest concentration of native communities to the east of Mississippi River, each with its own dialect and traditions, since ever dedicated to agriculture, hunting and fishing, tribal art production and to the creation of cultural centers where to hand down and preserve origins and idioms. And at the same time smartly projected towards the future.
Features and peculiarities which make the Wisconsin an extraordinary place to explore the history and the deeds of the Native Americans through different keys of reading.
The Native Wisconsin. A suggestive itinerary, an on the road extremely variegated among uncontaminated forests, rivers, lakes, prehistoric islands, prairies and cultivated fields, small towns, historic places and ceremonial centers.
From Bayfield and Legendary Waters – the northernmost tip of Wisconsin which through Lake Superior insinuates itself slightly into Canada – as far as Green Bay, heart and soul of the Oneida Nation and mythical Football Team of the Green Bay Packers, lying between the bends of Lake Michigan and Door Peninsula.
A 6 days’ path and about 700km which can be easily put in a wider road trip involving the neighbor states with direct accesses from Europe, like the near Chicago, in Illinois.
From Duluth – my gate to Mid-eest – as far as the passage through an unexpected and luxury nature between Minnesota and Wisconsin, between the Scenic Byway13 first and a trait of Lake Superior Circle then.
A fascinating peninsula of forests, small villages, endless shades of blue and light blue between sky and lake, legends and traditions of the native Wisconsin, insinuating itself slightly into Lake Superior as far as touching the Apostle Islands: 22 islands originated during the last ice age which seem to be put there on purpose in order to make the access to this magical land even more hard and difficult.
Boundless and green forests, the first National Tribal Park of the United States – the Frog Bay Tribal National Park – its paths swallowed up by nature to reach the coast. Bears, deer you can bump into and American eagles you can admire only look up towards the sky.
The first Native Wisconsin Tribe met, the working and very proud Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the old stories handed down from father to son, one of the primary activities (fishing) and the visit at the Cliff Tribal Fish Hatchery, the experience at the first distillery of the country created by the Native Americans – the Copper Crow Distillery – and the crossing through the Apostle Islands to reach the most important spiritual center of the local community – the very beautiful Madeline Island and its rich and very interesting Madeline Island Museum.
Songs and tribal dances at sunset and the unforgettable sunset over Lake Superior from the Legendary Waters Resort and Casino.
This fragment of Wisconsin, literally overlooking Canada, is really a small corner of heaven.
A busy day of travelling from the green and suggestive coasts of Lake Superior to the encounter with the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Tribe near Sevenwinds Casino, Lodge and Resort, passing by the tour at the Kinnamon School, heart and soul of the traditions and culture of the local natives.
A dive into the history of Prohibition with the tour dedicated to the gangster Al Capone and one of his favorite “hidings places on the bends of the Condray Lake, in Hyward. About the stories of the whisky cases arriving directly on the lake by hydroplane from Canada, the secret passages to escape from the garage in case of “unwanted guests”. And about this trait of Wisconsin, an area rich in episodes tried to the Prohibition and other hiding places of famous gangsters, like John Dillinger and Baby Face.
Then explore by boat the 200 islands and the fauna of the Chippewa Flowage, a heaven of peace, water and relax in the heart of the Native Wisconsin.
The arrival at sunset in Lac du Flambeau to plunge into the local native culture – the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa one with a tour dedicated to the community and the George W Brown Jr Ojiwbe Museum – then watch a typical tribal show, made of dances, songs and tales organized by the local art center Waaswaaganin Indian Bowl in the wonderful frame of Lake of Torches.
A day discovering even four Indian Nations.
The sacred and uncontaminated nature of their reservations.
Paths, rivers, forests and falls inclyuding in all respects their lands and the tour of the Forest County Potawatomi Cultural Center & Library, the Sokaogon Denison House with a typical degustation of Wild Rice, the Menominee Cultural Museum and the Arvid E. Miller Museum dedicated to the Indian Mohicans Native culture.
To end with the exciting experience of being able to watch an authentic Powwow at the Sokaogon Tribe: it’s a traditional meeting – the Strawberry Moon festival &Powwow –made of communities, sharing, tales, dances and tribal songs celebrating the beginning of Summer.
A special moment that, enjoyed in the most possible spirit of community and open mind to traditions, allows not only to plunge into the local culture, but also to feel an integral part of it.
A last intense day of discovering ties to the story, culture and traditions of the Oneida Nation.
A native community extremely proud and active who intersect its history with the United states one more than one, being a precious ally during the America Independence war.
The Oneida, coming from the present state of New York moved progressively toward the Mid-West following the colonization of the white man, settled in this area definitively in the middle 1800s.
Today it is possible to go over all their deeds and deepen their uses and traditions thanks to the tour of the Oneida Nation Museum, The Oneida Long House Village and the adjoining museum facility where it is possible to enjoy a series of experiences tied to the community (guided tours, tribal dances, sharing of a typical lunch).
The itinerary ends in the small town of Green Bay – around where the Oneida Reservation develops, made of fields, cultivations, prairies crossed by buffalos, cultural centers -to take part into the Lambeau Filed Stadium Tours and visit by guided tour the stadium of one among the most famous Football teams of the USA championship (supported by the Oneida Nation): the Green Bay Packers, winners of 13 titles, 4 Super Bowls included, and then stay overnight at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center, the “home” of the Oneida and Green Bay Packers.