Patty Loew, a professor in the Department of Life Sciences Communication, has done it again. Her passions for her own Native American culture, story telling, and environmental stewardship have combined into the completion of a second book.
“Seventh Generation Earth Ethics: Native Voices of Wisconsin” is a collection of Native biographies that highlights one prominent figure from each of the 12 Indian nations of Wisconsin.
“Like my first book ‘Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal,’ this book is written using native sources and non-print sources so a lot of my work came out of oral interviews and interpretations of culture,” Loew said. “There aren’t many books out there written this way but it’s important for me to tell these histories accurately because these native communities have entrusted me to do so.”
Each individual highlighted plays an important role in Native environmental, cultural and natural resource sustainability, including founders of the Wisconsin Green Party, anti-mining activists, treaty right advocates, artists, educators and land stewards.
While working on her first book, and then its second edition, Loew realized that beyond just a history book she wanted to start a collection of biographies. She then began researching and writing both books simultaneously.
“Most of the work I had done before books was in television, where I did broadcast and long and short documentaries,” she said. “Everything in broadcast is restrained by time. It’s all about how much you can jam into a one-and-a-half-minute segment so writing books has been very liberating for me. I can talk to as many people as I need and search out as many sources as I need and really take my time writing.”
Loew said that her inspiration for the title wasn’t something she came up with, but is instead a very prominent philosophy held by many native communities.
“In my culture and in several other cultures here in Wisconsin there’s this idea known as Seventh Generation, which symbolizes long-range visioning,” she said. “When you make important decisions today you must consider what kind of impact that decision is going to have on seven generations in the future. This idea is reflected in our environmental vision.”
The society in mainstream culture can be very short term and Loew pointed out several examples, such as short election cycles and business quarterlies, which often ignore the sustainability of economies, environments and natural resources. The natural resources specialist members of these tribes work to preserve their long-range visioning.
Loew’s first book has been a huge success since it was first published over 10 years ago. Kathy Borkowski, of the Wisconsin Historical Society Press (the books’ publisher), said “Indian Nations of Wisconsin” has been a top seller for over 10 years and has sold over 25,000 copies. Her books are also often used as resources to teach Native American history all across the state.
“As an enrolled member of the Bad River band of the Lake Superior Ojibwe, Patty brings unique insight to her research and writing,” Borkowski added. “The stories are personal and her connection is personal. In reading about these strong individuals, you feel as though you are sitting down with Patty over a cup of coffee while she tells you their stories. And these stories are incredibly important now as we face many environmental challenges — these are the heroes who have made a difference.”
Perhaps the best part of Loew’s new book is where the profits are going — 100% straight to scholarships at the Wisconsin Indian Education Association.
“To me the real payment was being able to meet these extraordinary people and tell their stories so I’m proud of this book because it’s going to generate money for scholarships,” Loew said.
The book is currently available for sale but the official launch is Oct. 18 at the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Book Festival. LSC hopes to see you there!