A closeup of 'Threshold' a green, tile mosaic created by Lynn Basa, located in the main entrance to Nancy Nicholas Hall.

Indigenous EcoWell Initiative (2020-2024)

The School of Human Ecology is home to several Native/Indigenous faculty whose work focuses on the intersections of Indigenous cultures, health, language and community.

Faculty members are collaborating with campus partners and First Nations to develop the School’s Indigenous EcoWell Initiative. The intention is to build and engage a community of scholars, practitioners, undergraduate, and graduate students within this endeavor.

Circular graphic that looks like it's made of colorful beads. A string and needle show beads in the process of being added to the finished design.
Close-up of a hand holding a circular beaded medallion, which is mostly white with a colorful growing flower motif.

Beading Exhibition Event

Hands-on beading activities invited attendees to experience the creativity of beading and cultural humility as it relates to Indigenous traditions of learning and social interactions.

Read more about the Exhibition

What we do

  • Strengthens relationships with Wisconsin First Nations, First Nations across the United States, and global Indigenous communities through collaborations that focus on the well-being of children, youth, families, and communities; 
  • Supports learning opportunities for Indigenous students both on and off campus;  
  • Developed a new course: CSCS/AIS 330: American Indian Communities: Sovereignty, Struggles, and Successes, first offered in Fall 2021
  • Fosters relationships with the Division of Extension and other UW—Madison schools/divisions, as well as other UW campuses to promote and enhance Indigenous scholars, students, and First Nations communities in regard to research and scholarship activities across campus; and  
  • Engages in research that is centered around Indigenous research paradigms and approaches that reflect the needs and aspirations of First Nations communities. 

For more information, contact Dr. Carolee Dodge Francis, the Indigenous EcoWell Team Leader.

Indigenous EcoWell Team

  • A Native American Indian woman, with light brown curly hair, wearing a royal blue dress with silver beads.

    Carolee Dodge FrancisLeola R. Culver Professor in Nonprofits and Philanthropy | Department Chair and Professor of Civil Society & Community Studies

  • A Native woman smiling, wearing a patterned blue and red dress with red beaded earrings.

    Kasey KeelerAssistant Professor of Civil Society & Community Studies

About the artwork

Circular graphic that looks like it's made of colorful beads. A string and needle show beads in the process of being added to the finished design.
Artwork by Sadie Red Wing

Beadwork is an influential practice shared among numerous tribal sovereign nations in the United States. This beaded medallion symbolizes the stringing together of ideas, stacking elements for strength, and uniting forces of nature in an ongoing process of weaving the community. The floral depiction represents the student’s journey as they flourish in Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge and as the morning stars illuminate their path to fulfillment.

About the artist

Sadie Red Wing is a Lakota graphic designer and advocate from the Spirit Lake Dakota Nation of Fort Totten, North Dakota. Red Wing earned her BFA in New Media Arts and Interactive Design at the Institute of American Indian Arts. She received her Master of Graphic Design from North Carolina State University. Her research on cultural revitalization through design tools and strategies created a new demand for tribal competence in graphic design research. Red Wing urges Native American graphic designers to express visual sovereignty in their design work, and she encourages those in the academic community to include Indigenous perspectives in design curricula. Currently, Red Wing serves as a Student Success Coach for American Indian College Fund (Denver, CO) where she specializes in student retention and resource-building for the Native American demographic in higher education spaces.