During the week of May 7, representatives from the National Congress of American Indians held a workforce development workshop at the Meskwaki Bingo Casino and Hotel for Meskwaki tribal leadership. The group spent time learning about best practices from other tribes across the country and discussing ideas and strategies surrounding workforce development at Meskwaki Nation.
Meskwaki Settlement School held its 2019 Prom titled “Painting the Town Red: A Walk Down Memory Lane” on Saturday, May 4 at the MSS gymnasium.
The night began with a Grand March where students were introduced in front of their family and friends. 2019 Prom King and Queen were also crowned. Congratulations to Prom King Noah Seymour and Prom Queen Marley Whitefish. Following the Grand March attendees enjoyed a dance followed by an After Prom party at Wayward Social bowling alley in Marshalltown.
Sunday, May 5th will be the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW). Activists and advocates throughout the country will be holding events and rallies to help raise awareness of the ongoing issue where disproportionate numbers of Indigenous women in North America are being affected by violence.
The R.I.S.E. (Resources for Indigenous Survivors and Empowerment) organization along with the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence have organized a rally at the State Capitol Sunday afternoon while another organization based within the Meskwaki community will be organizing a different sort of activity to help raise awareness.
Dirk Whitebreast’s Red Earth Running Company along with Native Women Running have co-sponsored a Virtual Run on May 5th to honor the MMIW movement. The MMIW Virtual Run is a free activity that seeks to combine activism and exercise on the MMIW National Day of Awareness. To learn more about the MMIW Virtual Run: CLICK HERE
*cover image courtesy of Red Earth Running Co.
On the evening of Wednesday, May 1 MSS hosted an Art & Culture Night in the Settlement School building.
Art displays were setup throughout the cafeteria and commons area that showcased the work of students grades K-12. Students artwork was judged, and ribbons were awarded. Attendees also enjoyed door prizes and light refreshments. Later in the evening the crowd moved into the gymnasium to watch performances from several of the school’s band and choir groups.
On Monday, April 29 Meskwaki Natural Resources hosted an Earth Day Celebration at the Meskwaki Tribal Gym.
Several vendors set up informational booths throughout the gym, each with a different focus on an environmental topic, to provide participants with some educational and entertaining activities. The celebration included a tree giveaway, lunch sale, bake sale, and several door prizes. Prizes included cook books, a paddle, a set of bone dice, jewelers saw, a garden starter kit, a table set, and a cat tail needle. Prior to the indoor activities, MNR also organized volunteer clean-up crews to spend time outside cleaning roadsides.
On Sunday, April 28th Meskwaki Health Services and the Meskwaki Diabetes Prevention Program hosted an Easter Egg Hunt at the Meskwaki Health Center. The afternoon provided activities and entertainment for the whole family including prizes, food, egg hunts for both youth and seniors, and a visit from the Easter Bunny.
On Wednesday, April 24 the Meskwaki Family Fun Night Committee organized a Meskwaki Carnival Night. Families and community members gathered to enjoy a sunny evening of fun with activities set up along the southeast side of the Clinic building. A variety of tribal departments as well as staff members from Tama County Public Health and Tama County ISU Extension put together booths with fun games and activities for kids to enjoy. The night featured games, prizes, yummy food, face painting, and a photo booth.
Buffalo Herd and Refuge Update
Buffalo Wildlife Herd
The Tribe currently has 47 buffalo and they have approximately 200 acres to graze (including forest). The current area is small for the number of buffalo that the Tribe manages. This causes the lands to be overgrazed and can lead to health issues for the buffalo herd. Due to the lack of forage, we are also forced to provide hay as a supplemental source of food for the buffalo in the winter months. MNR started working on a new management approach in 2016, which has and will lead to improved overall herd and land health. One major stage in this revitalization is completing the new buffalo wildlife refuge expansion, which will add approximately 60 acres to the current refuge.
This year we lost two buffalo, one in the winter and one in the last week. Due to the continuous wet growing season we experienced last year and confined refuge area, the herd contracted gut parasites. MNR staff treated the herd and worked with our local vet. The herd improved in health. This individual was not able to fully regain condition. As most animals do, she headed to water to pass. The recent passing was caused by an issue during labor. MNR has the upmost respect for all animals, especially the buffalo herd, and are treated with such.
MNR is working to finalize the expansion of the buffalo wildlife refuge that was started in 2016. The above mentioned issues will be solved by implementing a new rotational grazing plan. Rotational grazing focuses on animals moving to different paddocks (i.e., locations) to graze for shorter time periods. Allowing the land a chance to heal and plants a chance to regrow with minimal disturbance. This helps mimic grazing patterns that would happen naturally if the buffalo were free to roam over the entire landscape.
Staff planted the expanded 60 acres to a native prairie mix consisting of 60 species of grasses and wildflowers; including sage, milkweed, mint and Echinacea. Many of these plants benefit both wildlife and people in their multiple uses. This area will be open to the community as an area free of potential chemicals to harvest plants.
MNR Staff will be working to finish fence construction around the expansion area this spring. The fence line will be the same style as the existing fence. This style allows smaller animals such as deer to enter and exit the pasture but keeps the buffalo contained. We will have multiple gates throughout the fence line. When the buffalo do not have access to the area, we will keep the gates open to allow for better access to community members. We will have the gates open in the fall and winter when hunting and firewood collection is more common. The area will have space around the perimeter to drive to allow access even when the gates are closed. As always, access to inside the refuge area is available upon request. MNR has a loaner key program that allows access outside of operating hours.
For more information, please contact:
Jarrett Pfrimmer, MNR Director
Meskwaki Agriculture and Food Sovereignty Local Foods Coordinator Shelley Buffalo shares a simple method for constructing a wooden tree tap used in collecting sap for the maple sugar harvest process.
Check out the video here:
Meskwaki Health Services’ annual “Spring Into Health” Fair took place on Thursday, April 11th at the Meskwaki Veteran’s Memorial Convention Center.
The room was full of booths sponsored by Tribal Operations departments, vendors, and area organizations. Door prizes were awarded, and a sizable crowd gathered to check out all of the different resources and information available to help the community live in healthy ways. The inflatable Rollin’ Colon exhibit was back again this year, sponsored by the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Health Board. Meskwaki Food Sovereignty Initiative also debuted a popular new activity at this year’s Health Fair. A bright orange “Fender Blender” Smoothie Bike sat near the middle of the room by the MFSI table and gave attendees an opportunity to use a stationary bicycle to power a small blender that turned out delicious tasting (and healthy) fruit smoothies. Thanks to all of the departments who participated and for the organizers who put the time and effort into making this year’s Health Fair another success.