The U.S. Forest Service and the College of Menominee Nation Sustainable Development Institute are collaborating to promote sustainable forestry on public and private lands, sustainable utilization of best practices, and sustainable rural development on native timberlands.
In the fall of 2003, the Forest Service and the College of Menominee Nation Sustainable Development Institute signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a sustainable forestry research, education, and extension center, called the Center for First Americans Forestlands (CFAF). Under the agreement, the Forest Service provides a tribal liaison supported by the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL), Northern Research Station, Northeastern Area of State and Private Forestry, and Northern Region, to work collaboratively with the CFAF director.
Native and non-native students and visitors from across the world come to Keshena, Wisconsin, to pursue higher learning and to learn the history, systems and strategies of the Menominee and other First Americans.
The center’s goal is to promote sustainable forestry management practices through research, education, policy analysis, and technical assistance. It aims to synthesize the best practices of forest ecology with Native American expertise, and apply this knowledge to sustainable forestry practices and development. CFAF also works to realize the Sustainable Development Institute’s broader goal of “sharing and implementing the Menominee values of sustainability through education, applied research, community engagement, and the sharing of indigenous wisdom.”
As part of this agreement, FPL was called upon to assist Menominee Tribal Enterprises, a tribe owned and operated forest management and wood products manufacturing operation in Wisconsin. The cooperative 2-year partnership, initiated in 2012, provided technical assistance, market research, and marketing plan development for cabinetmaking operations.
FPL and Menominee Tribal Enterprises also worked closely with Madison Area Technical College, that provided expert technical knowledge regarding cabinetmaking and molding, and a student internship that focused on communications and marketing.
The partnership between the Forest Service and the CFAF is viewed as a model for academia/Federal partnerships serving the common good, native, and non-native rural communities. A renewed memorandum between the organizations is currently underway, and FPL looks forward to working with the Menominee Nation, local educational institutes, and other Forest Service groups, to promote responsible use of our shared forest resources.