The History of NATOW

The State of Wisconsin was once Indian Territory. A series of 19th century Treaties between the Tribes and the US Government established the 11 Tribal Reservations as they are known and recognized today. It is the largest concentration of Tribes in one state east of the Mississippi River.

Native Wisconsin is made up of 11 sovereign Tribal nations: Bad River Ojibwe, Forest County Potawatomi, Ho Chunk, Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Ojibwe, Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Menominee Nation, Mole Lake Sokaogan Chippewa, Oneida Nation, Red Cliff Band of Ojibwe, St. Croix Band of Ojibwe, Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans.  Each Tribe is a sovereign nation that abides by its own Constitution.

Coupleatcabin-1024x830These reservation lands occupy over one half million acres of prime forest and marsh lands, lakes and rivers. Each Tribe has its own language dialects, art forms, traditional practices, and oral histories. Diverse yet alike in many ways, each of the reservations feature pristine lakes, rivers and streams, towering forests and ancient wild rice beds-ecosystems teeming with an abundance of wildlife. Their natural resources have been protected by the same Treaties that established the reservations.

Tribal art, traditions and culture are significant parts of both Indian and non-Indian communties in the State, making Wisconsin a remarkable place to explore the history of Native American people.

NATOW is an inter-tribal consortium that was launched as a state wide initiative in 1994 by GLITC (Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council). The mission of NATOW is to promote tourism featuring Native American heritage and culture. Tourism provides an excellent tactic for Tribes to diversify their economies, while telling the true story concerning their history and culture. Tourism is also one of the ways that Tribes can be self-sufficient and boost their economies. NATOW is comprised of representatives from each Tribe, who converge bi-monthly to discuss its strategic tourism plan. NATOW has grown significantly over the last few years, becoming a recognized force in Wisconsin at gatherings, festivals, and events. All efforts are coordinated by their own Director, Chairperson, and the executive board members who report directly to the GLITC Board of Directors.

NATOW receives a yearly grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, which goes directly to promoting Tribal tourism, publishing the Native Wisconsin, and administrative costs. NATOW has formed a strong partnership with the State of Wisconsin that will compliment all Wisconsin tourism programs. We hope you enjoy this publication and learn more about the Tribes of Wisconsin.

We welcome all visitors to our lands.