University-Indigenous Community Partnerships

Sand Point Restoration Area, KBIC, photo by Karena Schmidt
Sand Point Restoration Area, KBIC, photo by Karena Schmidt


 Michigan Technological University is located within Ojibwa (Chippewa) homelands and ceded-territory established by the Treaty of  1842, the shared lands and waters of Native American nations in Gakiiwe'onaning (Keweenaw Bay), Gete-gitgaaning (Lac Vieux Desert), Mashkii-ziibing (Bad River), Odaawaa-zaaga'iganing (Lac Courte Oreilles), Waaswaaganing (Lac Du Flambeau), Miskwaabikong (Red Cliff), Wezaawaagami-ziibiing (St. Croix), Zaka'aaganing (Sokaogon Mole Lake), Nagaajiwanaag (Fond du Lac), Misi-zaaga'iganiing (Mille Lacs), and Gaa-mitaawangaagamaag-ininwag (Sandy Lake). 

The University-Indigenous Community Partnerships at the Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) focuses on research, teaching, and community engagement that elevates Indigenous peoples and knowledge, facilitates equitable research practice and design, and guides partnerships that prioritize the protection and restoration of land and life in the Great Lakes region.  The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) Natural Resource Department and their staff partner on many research and research-related projects across campus with Michigan Tech faculty, staff, and undergraduate and graduate students including volunteer, internship and fellowship research, coursework related projects and graduate theses and dissertation research. GLRC members offer research expertise that aligns with many of the KBIC sustainability and sovereignty priorities. 

Tribal Water Day and World Water Day: The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) and the GLRC both host annual water day events for the broader public that highlight equitable partnerships for Great Lakes research while providing a critical community engagement piece that focuses on the many ways that water is vital to life. KBIC and GLRC collaborate on planning and presenting at these events. 

Honoring Water Together: The University-Indigenous Community Partnerships encourage all to participate in KBIC’s annual Sand Point Water Walk and People of the Heart Water Walk, an Anishinaabe water ceremony that raises awareness about the importance of water and the need for protection and healing of water. Inspired by Josephine Mandamin’s (February 21, 1942 – February 22, 2019) first water walk, walks take place across Turtle Island. Josephine was an Anishinaabe First Nations grandmother who began the movement, walking more than 10,000 miles in total for the healing of the water.

All ages, genders, and ethnicities are welcome to walk for the water with KBIC. The KBIC Water Walk is held annually on the third Wednesday of July before Pow Wow; it begins at 6 am at First Sands Beach in Pequaming and continues around the Bay to Sand Point in Baraga. The People of the Heart Water Walk is held Saturday-Monday on the second weekend in October concluding on Indigenous Peoples' Day. Water is carried nearly 90 miles between Copper Harbor to Sand Point, alternating start locations each year. 

The University-Indigenous Community Partnership program also supports and steers the Indigenous Peoples’ Day Campaign, a community organization that a) commemorates Indigenous Peoples, b) actively supports the recognition of Indigenous Peoples worldwide, including education and dialogue on diversity and solidarity, social justice, and decolonization, and c) actively supports the recognition of and education about the Ojibwa Peoples’ presence and contributions to Michigan Tech and the larger community in the region.  

Other Partnership Projects of Interest: