Wisconsin Act 31 in PK-16 Education




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wisconsin historical society, whs-1871


A Story of Sovereignty:
Symbolic Petition of the Chippewa Chiefs

Audio | Translation |

This image was copied by artist Seth Eastman in 1849 and printed in Henry Rowe Schoolcraft's "Historical and Statistical Information respecting the... Indian tribes of the United States..." (Philadelphia, 1851). Schoolcraft says there (pp. 414-416) that a birch bark version was carried by Ojibwe Chief Buffalo to Washington in 1849 when the tribe petitioned the U.S. to adjust boundaries of the 1842 LaPointe treaty. It was intended as a sort of letter of reference, depicting their authority to speak for the Lake Superior bands today called the Lac Courte Oreilles, St. Croix, Fond du Lac, Red Cliff and Bad River Ojibwe. In the decades that followed, it was also used by the Ojibwe to explain the Sandy Lake tragedy of 1850-51. Contemporary elders say that the lines from the hearts and eyes of the Catfish, Man-fish, Bear, and the three Martens to the heart and eye of the Crane signify that all the headmen shared the same views. The last line, going out from the Crane's eye, indicated that the entire group had authorized Chief Buffalo (Crane Clan) to speak to President Fillmore on their behalf.

Permission and purshasing


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.