/ Articles / Waaswaaganing Indian Bowl Living Arts and Culture Center partners with Fe University
Classes being developed in Native American literature, archeology, and arts and crafts
“Where Two Worlds Meet: Lac du Flambeau,” an Fe University class taught by Gregg Guthrie, member of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, was so popular it was repeated three times in Mercer. Because of students’ desire to learn more about local Native American culture, Guthrie invited Wendy Thiede, board president of Fe University, to attend a Waaswaaganing Indian Bowl board meeting in Lac du Flambeau. The purpose of the meeting was to brainstorm ideas for additional classes on Native American culture that could be taught in Lac du Flambeau to reach, not only current FeU students, but also residents there and others south of Mercer. Following discussion at two board meetings, an informal partnership between the Indian Bowl board and Fe University was formed.
President of the Indian Bowl board is Georgine Brown. Brown grew up on the Old Indian Village on Flambeau Lake, worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, is a U.S. Navy veteran and retired postmaster.
“The board is officially, the Waaswaaganing Indian Bowl Living Arts and Culture Center Board of Directors. The Waaswaaganing Indian Bowl Arts and Culture Center is a tribally chartered non-profit corporation,” Guthrie, an Indian Bowl board member, explained. “Board members represent both Native and non-Native people who call Lac du Flambeau ‘home.’”
Guthrie has been active in tribal and town government and state and local historical societies. He is a recipient of a Local History Award of Merit from the Wisconsin State Historical Society and is currently recognized as a Curator Emeritus of the Society. Guthrie received a bachelor of business administration from UW-Madison and Master of Divinity from Western Seminary. He has taught in public school and churches and currently serves as the chaplain of American Legion Post 318. He is a Marine Corps veteran.
The first class to be offered through this partnership will be “Native American Literature,” taught by Dr. Beth Tornes at the restored Boys Dormitory in Lac du Flambeau in May. Beth Tornes, a resident of LdF, has a Ph.D. in creative writing from the University of Utah and has taught Native American literature classes at Beloit College. She's also taught creative writing and poetry workshops at Beloit, Dillman’s Creative Arts Foundation, and UW-Madison’s Write by the Lake. She has published three collections of poetry and edited a collection of oral histories, “Memories of Lac du Flambeau Elders.” Other possible classes may include Ojibwe literature and poetry writing.
In June Cindi Stiles, retired Lac du Flambeau archeologist, will lead a Mercer class on a walking archeology tour in LdF that she developed. Another class being considered is a survey of Native American arts and crafts to include beadwork, basket making, leather work and decoy carving. A class on harvesting and preparing Native American foods and one on music and dancing have also been discussed.
Fe University is a non-accredited, nonprofit “college” offering classes to senior citizens but open to anyone over 18. Since its inception in 2014, 74 classes on a wide variety of topics have been offered in various locations throughout Iron County, hence the name Fe, the atomic symbol for iron. Forty-four different teachers have taught classes on natural resources, geology, Russian history, early Christianity in the British Isles, cross country skiing, and more, to approximately 370 students, many of whom take classes every year. To provide in depth learning and follow-up, FeU classes consist of two to six sessions including classroom and field experiences. This is learning at its best without the pressure of tests and grades. FeU instructors enjoy teaching students who attend because they are interested in the topic, not because they need college credit.
Waaswaaganing is the Ojibwe word for “lake of flames or torches,” which comes from the practice of harvesting fish at night by torchlight. The Indian Bowl has been the site of traditional dance and story-telling performances for over 60 years. The old facility was demolished in 2014, and the new Bowl was completed in 2017. The summer performances are popular attractions for both tourists and residents. For more information, visit https://www.indianbowlproject.org/history/. For more information on Fe University, visit www.feuniversity.org.