New report lays out Nicolet College’s plans to incorporate more indigenous knowledge into curriculum

For the Tomahawk Leader

RHINELANDER – A new report providing information on the framework Nicolet College will use to incorporate more indigenous knowledge into its curriculum is now available to the public.

The recently-completed Indigenous Ways of Knowing report also offers insight into how Nicolet will award college credit for prior learning when Native American students enroll at the college.

The report can be viewed at

A release from Nicolet said Native knowledge holders from across Wisconsin, through the Wisconsin Indian Education Association, partnered with the college on the project from 2019 to 2022.

“Along with incorporating Native ways of knowing into curriculum, other goals included creating a plan to establish pathways to college for Indigenous learners and also create a curriculum and grant credit for prior knowledge in Native culture, governance, history and language towards a technical certificate and associate degree,” Nicolet stated. “The report honors the work of the project, which closely adhered to Native pedagogy and ways.”

Nicolet noted that curriculum was developed by Indigenous leaders and members of area tribes, with the support of college faculty and staff.

“This report highlights the depth of work of this project, which shows that institutions of higher education can value Indigenous knowledge and infuse that across our curriculum to make it more holistic,” said Laura Wind-Norton, Nicolet’s associate vice president of Academic Services. “The story is the pedagogy.” 

The report features stories from Indigenous elders and leaders that allow a glimpse into the learning that occurred within the project. 

Nicolet said the project also represents input from dozens of individuals, led by many members of tribal communities across Wisconsin, including members of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, Ho Chunk Nation, Oneida Nation, Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Menominee Nation, Forest County Potawatomi Band and the Wisconsin Indian Education Association and the Indian Community School in Milwaukee. 

“The recently-completed work builds on previous work at the college, which includes offering a 13-credit certificate in Tribal Business Management and the new online Native American Art class,” Nicolet stated. 

The final report was prepared by StrategyForward Advisors, a postsecondary policy and strategy consulting firm based in Washington, D.C. 

“Honoring Indigenous Ways of Knowing in Community College Programs tells the story of sovereign nations that worked with Nicolet College to grant credit to Native American learners for their knowledge related to indigenous history, culture, language and governance,” wrote lead author Julie Johnson from StrategyForward Advisors. “Their unique model is shared through the voices and stories of Native leaders and college participants. It shows how the project was Native-led and based on indigenous approaches and pedagogy.” 

Nicolet College President Kate Ferrel said she looks forward to incorporating the findings in the Indigenous Ways of Knowing report. 

“We have not even begun to unleash the power and energy that this curriculum can produce to advance relationships with tribal partners and help these learners achieve their postsecondary goals,” Ferrel stated. 

For more information, contact Laura Wind-Norton at [email protected].

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