Why Act 31?

If you understand WHY, you'll figure out HOW.

Learn more about Act 31

Why Act 31 Viewpoints:  J P LearyAaron Bird Bear

Since 1989, Wisconsin has required instruction in the history, culture, and tribal sovereignty of then eleven federally recognized tribes and bands in the state for K-12 schools and teacher education programs. Anyone seeking a license to serve as a professional educator in the state, as a teacher, pupil services professional, or administrator, must receive instruction in these areas. These requirements are a product of the violent treaty rights controversy in the 1980s and early 1990s and of past educational policy decisions that contributed to widespread public ignorance and misunderstanding of Native people.

View Wisconsin American Indian tribal government map Red Cliff Bad River Lac du Flambeau Lac Courte Oreilles St. Croix Forest County Potawatomi Ho-Chunk Stockbridge Munsee Menominee Mole Lake Oneida

Wisconsin’s Model Academic Standards for Social Studies,
the statutorily required area of instruction, also reflect these requirements. (see “American Indian Studies, Standards, and Curriculum”). 

In a local control state like Wisconsin, each school district sets their own scope and sequence, but the required instruction typically takes place in Wisconsin in fourth or fifth grade (Wisconsin history), seventh or eighth grade (U.S. history), and in high school in U.S. History or Civics.

Act 31 on the UW Campus

The Act's greatest impact on programs at the University of Wisconsin, is that 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. The Act 31 Coordinator connects with various partners in the School of Education and across the State of Wisconsin to develop the Act 31 implementation plan for the School of Education. 

Primary Resources:  

11 Sovereign Nations in 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.