Content Experts


IMage of Aaron Bird Bear

Aaron Bird Bear is the second American Indian Curriculum Services coordinator supporting the School of Education's integration of American Indian Studies content into teacher education programs. Bird Bear (Mandan, Hidatsa, & Dine' Nations) received his Educational Leadership Policy & Analysis masters degree from UW-Madison and previously coordinated American Indian Student Academic Services, a unit supporting Native American students at UW-Madison.


Ryan Comfort

Ryan Comfort is an enrolled member of the Keweenaw Bay Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe. Comfort coordinated American Indian Curriculum Services from 2008-2012.  He is an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.  Comfort's research examines the role that media production can play in the retention of minority students in higher education.  He is particularly interested in Indigenous self-representation in New Media.  


Image of J P Leary

J P Leary (Cherokee/Delaware) serves as Assistant Professor of Humanistic Studies-First Nations Studies and a faculty member with the Education Center for First Nations Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.  From 1996 until 2011, he served as the American Indian Studies Consultant at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.  He holds a Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies (concentrations in history of education and policy analysis) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  His dissertation, “The Tangled Roots of Act 31: American Indians and Curriculum Policy in Wisconsin,” examines Act 31 as an outcome of past curriculum policy decisions at the national, state, and local level that limited opportunities to learn about American Indian history, culture, and tribal sovereignty.


Image of David O'Connor

David O'Connor is originally from and is a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (Ojibwe) in northern Wisconsin. In January 2012, he became the Education Consultant for the American Indian Studies Program (AISP) at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. In David’s current role, he supports school districts’ efforts to provide instruction in Wisconsin American Indian history, culture, and tribal sovereignty, also known as Act 31.


Patty Loew, a member of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Ojibwe, grew up in Milwaukee. She received her bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the UW-La Crosse and started her journalism career in La Crosse as a television and radio reporter; then she moved to Madison and worked her way up to the anchor’s desk at the ABC affiliate WKOW-TV. Loew covered state environmental issues as a journalist, and when the rights of tribes to fish Wisconsin waterways became a top news debate, she gave voice to the views and perspectives of native populations as few mainstream journalists had done before. Her ​curriculum serves​ an ​important foundation for this site and we are grateful to Patty for her involvement with the Act 31 Coalition. 


Project Credits

Wisconsin Public Television

Mik Derks

Kathy Bissen
Director of Production

Jon Miskowski
Development Director


Kristin Leglar
Content and Outreach Manager

Kathy Borkowski
Wisconsin Historical Society Press

School of Education

Diana Hess
School of Education, Dean

Rebecca Comfort
Graphic Design (Brochure/Map)

Simone Schweber
Faculty ​​/ Graduate Student Advisor

Joen Jaejin Hong
Curriculum Consultant (Graduate Student)

Soe-Media, Education Resources,
& INstructional Technology [MERIT]

Linda Endlich
Project Manager, Instruction & Graphic Design

Catherine Stephens
Education Technology Consultant

Jenny McBurney
Resident Librarian for Reference, Educational Technology, & Instruction

Clark Thompson 
Video (Retired) 

Act 31 Coalition Partners




12 American ​Indian Nations
of Wisconsin



​Act 31 Across WIsconsin

  • The state of Wisconsin was charged with creating a curriculum for grades 4-12 on American Indian treaty rights. It included a mandate for school programming to give students an understanding of different value systems, cultures, and human relations. 
  • Schools are required to teach American Indian studies at least 3 times throughout a student’s K-12 career and must maintain instructional materials which appropriately reflect diverse cultures.


Act 31 on the UW Campus

Each teacher seeking a license from the state must have instruction in American Indian history, culture and tribal sovereignty, ​meeting the requirement of Act 31 is more than an obligation for certification; it represents our university’s commitment to serve our diverse communities and the American Indian tribes and bands who reside within its borders.


News and Media Resources

The following links are to media resources, television, and radio that covers news and entertainment for and about American Indian nations and tribal communities across Wisconsin, the United States, and Canada.