Friday Madison Community Foundation announced a $65,000 grant, awarded to the Office of American Indian Curriculum Services at University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Education, to establish new Native American heritage sites across the city. The first-of-its-kind, place-based educational initiative will feature interpretive signage and displays highlighting history, culture and tribal sovereignty within a 15-minute walk of five Madison elementary schools. This is the sixth major grant from Madison Community Foundation’s 75th Anniversary Year of Giving.

By engaging with the material, teachers, educators and students will be able to identify the treaty-ceded lands of Madison. They’ll also learn more about the unique qualities and significance of the Late Woodland Society and effigy mound building culture, and develop awareness and appreciation for contemporary First Nationsculture.

“When we embarked on our 75th anniversary journey earlier this year, we wanted to make a difference for the many entities that steward the unique natural and cultural treasures that make Madison so special,” said Madison Community Foundation President Bob Sorge. “Our community is home to extraordinary Native American effigy mounds and we’re honored to help tell their story with educational materials that will enlighten current and future generations.”

“The rich, 12,000-year human story of Dejope, the four lakes region now known as Madison, has been largely undermined by a lack of appropriate signage and a shortage of accessible educational resources, particularly at the elementary school level,” said Aaron Birdbear, Assistant Dean, Student Diversity Programs at UW-Madison’s School of Education. “This project will encourage learning and awareness of the First Nations of Wisconsin—and in particular the Ho-Chunk Nation and their relationship to the treaty-ceded lands of Madison—as well as work to improve multicultural understanding and acceptance in the Madison community.”

The First Nations Heritage Tour is a partnership of American Indian Curriculum Services, Ho-Chunk Nation, Madison Metropolitan School District, a Madison-area effigy mound specialist, Dane County’s Title VII Indian Education coordinator, and Wisconsin Historical Society.