other. He also implored them to learn how to use the woods like the wild rice. His
approach stood in stark contrast to how timbering was done then. The current practices of still do… the Menominee
manage the forest for 46 variety of trees. They heeded Chief Oshkosh and learned that diversity in species is another
key to sustainability.
They have learned and are a shining example to
the rest of humanity of how to approach forest management. Today the tribe limits annual harvest to 29 million
board feet and because of that, what in 1854 contained 1.2 billion board feet today contains 1.7 billion board
feet. In the intervening years the Menominee have harvested 2.25 billion board feet have been harvested from the
same acreage. The backbone to the Tribal economy has been its forest product industry. In 1907 the Menominee even
built their own sawmill.
It has not been an easy path for Oshkosh's people.
In 1908 the Federal Government through the U. S. Forest Service began managing the Menominee forest. In 1930 the
Menominee sued the Federal Government for mismanaging the forest, because they were letting the forest sit and
did not harvest anything. The Menominee won the case in 1954 and 7 million dollars. In 1961 the Federal Government
'terminated' the Menominee and made the reservation Menominee County under the control of the State of Wisconsin.
This was the greatest of disasters. The tribe had to start selling land to pay property taxes on their forest,
this lead to deeper poverty and anguish. In 1974, through a very powerful movement the Menominee regained tribal
status. They continue to manage their forest and repair the damage of it recent history.
In my time I have learned a few other interesting
things about this forest. From space the astronaut can tell exactly where the reservation is. It is a patch of
green in a mottled background. Also, NASA and the Air Force use the very northwest corner of the reservation to
calibrate some of their space born equipment. Oshkosh's Legacy is painted on the surface of this planet as a shining
example of what can happen when human beings think beyond their pockets and into the concept of what is good for
I have seen enough bad forestry practices to realize
that the Menominee are the only people that are headed down the right path. In this country the U. S. Forest Service
is a part of the Agriculture Department. I wonder if we will ever recognize the only people that are qualified
to 'manage' our forests are the Menominee. Just maybe, their will come a time that humanity will recognize that
the Menominee are to people to steward all the forests of this land.
The Legacy of Chief Oshkosh is one that the rest of the world is just
opening its' eyes to. I hope it is not too late.
This is the Wolf-Fox river watershed as seen from earth orbit.
The Wolf River flows south through the Menominee Reservation, whose distinct straight boundaries outline heavy
forests--a result of the tribe's sustainable forestry practices. The Wolf flows south into Lakes Poygan and Butte
des Morts, where it joins with the north-flowing Fox River. The Upper Fox empties into Lake Winnebago, and the
Lower Fox then emerges out the northern end of the lake, to empty into Green Bay
If you want to read what the Menominee themselves have to say about this, here are a couple of links.
Menominee Tribal Enterprises' Forestry Department Home
Concept of Sustainable Forestry
If you want to read other articles about this subject, here is a link
to a list the Menominee's supply.
Menominee Tribal Enterprises' Articles Index
To Learn more about the Menominee Nation visit these sites
Menominee Culture - Indian Country Wisconsin