Lake Sturgeon Rehabilitation 

Lake Sturgeon Rehabilitation in the Kalamazoo River is a multi-agency project working towards protecting and increasing the population of Kalamazoo River lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens). The Tribe works with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Grand Valley State University and the Kalamazoo Chapter of Sturgeon for Tomorrow on rehabilitation efforts. Rehabilitation efforts are funded by the Tribe and FWS and led by Jason Lorenz and Liz Binoniemi-Smith. Read More...

Mnomen Restoration

Mnomen (wild rice - Zizania aquatica and Zizania palustris) restoration efforts are funded through a Bureau of Indian Affairs Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant.  Mnomen is an important natural resource both ecologically and culturally.  It is a sacred gift from the Creator and literally translates to “good berry.”  Mnomen is a culturally important plant to the Anishinabe people of the Great Lakes region. It has been a central component of the culture of indigenous people in this region for thousands of years and continues to be of great importance to the Anishinabe community. Mnomen’s spiritual significance is evidence of the fulfilling of the prophecies of the Anishinabek migration story; it is used in ceremonies and feasts. 

Through this BIA GLRI funded project, the Tribe is monitoring known mnomen beds, identifying water bodies with high potential for restoration success, and conducting restoration activities. This study is led by Alex Wieten.


Mishike Conservation 

Turtles are very important to the Anishinabek. In the Anishinabe creation story there was a great flood. Afterwards a small speck of soil was placed on the turtle’s back, which grew to become North America or “Turtle Island.” The turtle is also the leader of the fish clan, one of the original seven clans of the Anishinabek. This clan is looked to for truth and wisdom.

Urbanization, including increased impervious surface by means of roads, buildings and related structures, shoreline development and the resulting habitat fragmentation, cause turtle mortality as female turtles travel away from the wetlands to search for nesting sites. These increased impervious surface areas lead to an increased use of road salt, mostly in the form of NaCl (Foreman et al 2003), which eventually is washed off the roads and parking areas into local wetlands and other bodies of water (McBean and Al-Nassri 1987).

The main objectives of the Mshike Conservation Project, funded through BIA GLRI, are to monitor, conserve and improve turtle populations on Tribal properties. The Tribe is interested in learning the sex ratio of newly hatched mshike, if chloride or sulfide is affecting the animals and if artificial habitat will combat wetland fragmentation. The Mshike Conservation Project is led by Jason Lorenz. 

Environmental Programs - Pollution Prevention, Water Quality, Environmental Response 

The  core environmental programs and environmental capacity building are funded through the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and co-led by Shawn McKenney and Alex Wieten. EPA funded activities include pollution prevention (recycling, solid waste management), air quality activities (climate change adaptation planning, indoor air quality), Emergency Response, Water Quality (water monitoring, analysis) and environmental educational outreach including the coordination/organization of Jijak Youth Camp.    

Invasive Species - Prevention, Control and Management 

Michigan has already experienced significant negative effects from invasive species that are present on our land and in our waters. However, Michigan is continually threatened by new invasions as these organisms invade ecosystems beyond their natural, historical range. Invasive species may threaten the genetic integrity of native species and its connection to the local population’s life history, geographic diversity, and diversity of habitats. The presence of these species will negatively affect native ecosystems, human health, and the cultural, subsistence, commercial, agricultural, or recreational activities that tribal communities depend upon. The Gun Lake Tribe realizes that invasive species are impacting Michigan as well as our entire planet. The Tribe understands that the time is now to begin to make changes in order to reduce the effects of invasive species.

Forest  resources are of cultural, ecological, educational, historical, medicinal, nutritional, and recreational value to the Gun Lake Tribe. After the discovery of multiple invasive species threating Tribal property, the Tribe created the Invasive Species Management Plan (ISMP) to guide invasive species control efforts on Tribal Lands. The purpose of the ISMP is to improve and protect native plant and animal diversity, improve aesthetic and recreational uses, and improve wildlife habitat on Tribal properties. The ISMP focuses on practical strategies and actions that will help to reduce the impact of invasive species on culturally significant resources and the native ecosystem. The Gun Lake Tribe will work with other organizations to come together to protect and care for Mother Earth. Through a Bureau of Indian Affairs grant, the Gun Lake Tribe began a program to initiate treatment of invasive species on Tribal Properties and to update and implement the strategy of this plan. The objectives of this project are to (1) develop a comprehensive forest invasive species action plan, (2) draft and adopt a Forest Pest Ordinance, and (3) respond to and treat invasive species threatening Tribal forest resources. The overall benefit to invasive species prevention and response is protecting traditions, land, and natural resources for future generations. Terrestrial invasive species efforts are led by Doug Galvas.   

In accordance to traditional belief, water represents the sacred connection we have with all life. Mbish (water) literally means the substance that supports our life or path on Mother Earth. It is water that opens the door way of life. The Great Lakes Basin holds a vast history of honoring the resources that were bestowed upon her people. Bmadzewen yawen I mbish (water is life). Aquatic invasive species (AIS) threaten native life, systems, and economies that rely on our fresh water. Managing AIS within the inland lakes and streams is an important part of the Gun Lake Tribe’s commitment to managing natural resources. AIS threaten resources culturally significant to the Tribe.  Through a previous FWS GLRI funded project, the Tribe  updated the ISMP to include aquatic invasive species and began implementation of action steps. Current efforts are funded through a FWS GLRI grant to implement the ISMP. Control efforts are focused within the Great Lakes Basin, with targeted focus on the Kalamazoo River Watershed specifically the Gun River and Rabbit River sub-watersheds and associated lands. Prevention through education and outreach of the Tribal Community and Public is a large portion of this project. These actions will help with the management of AIS before these species become widespread and too costly to treat. Aquatic invasive species efforts are led by Alex Wieten.

Woodlot Management 

Woodlot management efforts include implementation of forest stewardship plans, black ash surveys, EAB parasitoid release and beech bark disease detection/monitoring.  Woodlot management efforts are led by Doug Galvas.

Native Grassland Management

Grassland management efforts include prescribed burns, invasive species control, and prairie and pollinator plantings.

Education & Outreach - Cultural Connection to Nature

Educational and recreational opportunities are offered throughout the year related to our projects. Educational efforts are focused on invasive species prevention, reducing our environmental footprint and project highlights. Events include the biannual Environmental Speaker Series, Stewardship Workdays, Earth Day Celebration, Boot Lake Fishing Contest, Jijak Youth Camp, Kalamazoo River Voyage, Aquatic Invasive Species Landing Blitz, Lake Sturgeon Release Celebration, and Mnomen Harvest.

Gke’ndaswen, or The Knowledge Project, is funded through the BIA Tribal Youth Initiate. Through Gke’ndaswen we aim to connect Tribal youth to the environment and build a relationship to nature and culture. Activities demonstrate that natural resource conservation and management is necessary for maintaining cultural lifeways.  We offer hands-on activities that demonstrate this connection, as well as offer opportunities for college visits and job shadowing to learn more about higher education and careers in the Natural Resource and the Environmental field. Education and outreach efforts are led by Nikki Yargeau.

Natural Resource Use by Anishnabek: Past, Present & Future  

As part of the global settlement for the Kalamazoo River Oil Spill, Enbridge Energy is funding a study of past, present and future uses of natural resources by Anishinabek people. This study will be led by Elizabeth Binoniemi-Smith and Jeff Martin and is in development, please check back for updates.  You can find more information on the oil spill and settlement here:

Environmental Hazard Reporting

We encourage members of our community to be on the lookout for environmental hazards or potential threats to the environment. Through early detection, we can notify the proper authorities to address the concern and protect our natural resources. 

We are asking all tribal citizens and community members to be on the lookout for environmental hazards throughout our community and to report these discoveries to our Environmental Department so that we can investigate and notify proper authorities to address the hazard. As good stewards of our resources it is our responsibility to observe and report when we see things that threaten the health of our lands and waterways. Things to look for are: improper dumping of chemicals, open trash dumps, animal waste runoff into waterways, etc. For your own protection please do not come into contact with hazardous or unknown substances as part your investigation. Miigwetch for your assistance in protecting our resources. Please do your part in keeping an eye out and reporting environmental hazards that you become aware of.