Ways to infuse Native American culture into a Wisconsin winter getaway – WUWM

With November being Native American Heritage Month, this month’s Wandering Wisconsin shares ways to infuse Native American culture into a winter Wisconsin getaway.
Wisconsin is home to 11 federally recognized tribes —many of them situated in Wisconsin’s Northwoods. Suzette Brewer, the executive director of Native American Tourism of Wisconsin (NATOW), says when you visit tribal land in winter, it’s very peaceful and there’s a wide range of outdoor activities to do. Think snowshoeing, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, bird watching and ice fishing.
“There’s so many things that people can still do in the winter in our tribal communities, and so I just want to encourage everybody to continue discovering native Wisconsin,” she says.
Brewer points to snow snake — a traditional Native American winter sport sort of like curling.
“It’s an ancient tribal tradition that stretches back thousands of years that people still play to this day. It’s a really fun form of competition and community gathering and togetherness that I think people really enjoy in the winter months in the tribal communities,” she explains.
And Brewer says you don’t have to go to Iceland to see the Northern Lights, you can see them right here in Wisconsin and tribal land is a great place to go to check them out. NATOW is working with the Dark Skies Initiative to protect land that’s ideal for viewing the Northern Lights from light pollution.
“If you know a solar flare is coming, you can book a room at one of the tribal hotels. We live in some of the darkest spots in Wisconsin. … I just think it’s a once in a lifetime, unique experience for people who may live in the urban areas that they may want to go and book a room and enjoy the Northern Lights from the comfort of their own state,” Brewer says.
Looking for a particular place to visit? Wisconsin’s Onedia Nation tribal community is located near the Green Bay area and is home to a variety of activities, experiences and places to explore.
Distance from Milwaukee: Approx. two hours
Oneida Nation Museum
The Onedia Nation Museum is the place to go to learn about Oneida customs, heritage and history. They have all different kinds of exhibits including the Oneida creation story, the history of the Oneida Lace Makers and an interactive Native American longhouse home.
Amanda Weibel, the communications officer for Travel Wisconsin, says there is a self-guided tour option but suggests taking the guided tour of the museum.
“That’s when you’re going to be able to learn from the experts and really get a wealth of information from that cultural education staff,” Weibel says.
Ukwakhwa Farm
Ukwakhwa Farm is owned and operated by Becky and Steve Webster, who are Oneida Nation citizens. On the farm, they practice traditional Indigenous farming techniques from planting and cultivating, to seed keeping, food preparation and storage, as well as making tools and crafts.
“They’re learning these techniques along the way themselves, which is why they’re dedicated to helping share that knowledge with others,” Weibel explains.
The farm offers a variety of workshops including cooking with traditional foods and methods, corn husk crafts, tours and more.
Cedar & Sage Grill House
The Cedar & Sage Grill House is located inside the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Green Bay. They focus on local Indigenous foods that are sourced from tribal communities and menu items that reflect tribal heritage.
“They’re thinking about what’s in season, but they’re also thinking about how they can preserve those things and make it part of their menu throughout the year,” Weibel says.
“I also want to mention that they have buying agreements with other tribes in Wisconsin, so you know that just increases their sustainability. … So the tribes really are working together as a part of their food sovereignty, and as a part of their return to Indigenous type foods to really sort of bring that back into the communities,” Brewer says.
Wandering Wisconsin is a partnership between WUWM and Travel Wisconsin.