Posted by: csdailyblog | March 22, 2011

Conserve School Winter Skills Weekend #2

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Our second Winter Skills Weekend of the semester took place this past Friday and Saturday. The theme focused on traditional outdoor skills and the indigenous foods and cultures of the Northwoods. Friday morning started out with a presentation on Ojibwe traditions and handcrafts by Nick Hockings, a member of the Lac Du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe and founder of the Waswagoning Re-Created Ojibwe Village in nearby Lac Du Flambeau. (Nick also happens to be the grandfather of Conserve alum Celeste, now attending college at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.) After his presentation in the Gathering Space, Nick took students outside for a demonstration of fire-starting with a bow and drill and then let students try their hands at the technique, which is difficult but do-able with the application of considerable elbow grease. Having tried it myself a number of times (I’ve gotten smoke but no fire — yet), I’m always impressed at how Nick can get a fire going in just a few moments. Watch this short clip from the Waswagoning website to see for yourself. In addition to fire-making bows and drills, Nick brought with him an impressive array of traditional and beautiful Ojibwe artifacts he had made including birch-bark baskets, hunting bows and arrows, headresses, and drums.

After spending time with Nick in the morning, in the afternoon students headed to staff apartments to cook dinner from local ingredients like wild rice, bison, squash, fish, root vegetables, and nuts. We all then dressed up and gathered at dinner time for a Harvest Feast in the Conserve School dining room so we could sample one another’s culinary projects. After dinner, we watched Gakina Awiiya – We Are All Related, a film from an award-winning PBS series about the history of the local Ojibwe people.

The following day, students traveled to the Teaching Drum Outdoor School in Three Lakes, which offers lengthy outdoor immersion experiences and training in traditional skills.

A special thank you for this wonderful Winter Skills Weekend to Anita Olson and Rachel Maxwell, two of our University of Wisconsin Graduate Fellows/Field Instructors! Anita planned all of Friday’s activities, and Rachel planned Saturday’s visit to the Teaching Drum Outdoor School.

Mary Anna



  1. 9-10 A.P.E.S. misses you Danielle, I am sure you would have been in the running for the Slow Food cook off top prize last month. Good Eating!

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