UW-Madison’s Omar Poler (Sokaogon Ojibwe) was featured in a Wisconsin State Journal report headlined, “Know Your Madisonian: Bringing Indigenous Perspective to UW Madison Campus.”
Poler has spent the past decade working for UW-Madison as an outreach specialist for the Information School, supporting tribal librarians, archivists, and museum curators across Wisconsin. He also helped develop the Our Shared Future Heritage Marker, which recognized the university’s occupation of ancestral Ho-Chunk land that the nation was forced to cede.
As an American Indian Curriculum Services consultant for the School of Education, Poler supports education about and creates learning opportunities regarding First Nations. One of the primary programs he works on is the UW First Nations cultural landscape tour.
The tours, which are now postponed due to the COVID-19 response, introduce people to indigenous ideas, concepts, and issues by walking around campus. More traditional campus tours tend to start with the story of Madison around 1848, but the First Nations tour shares archaeological evidence of people living in the area 12,000 to 13,000 years ago.
The State Journal explains how Poler uses these tours as an opportunity to think about what the landscape was like before European colonization and think about how people are connected to the land.
“Connection to place is of critical importance,” Poler tells the State Journal. “Climate change is the most important issue of our time. And is it really the carbon in the atmosphere? Is that the real problem, you know, or is it our broken relationship to place, to land?”
For many more thoughts from Poler, check out to full State Journal report here.