Native Spirit: A pioneer of education

BOWLER, Wis. -

Education plays a big role for members of the Stockbridge Munsee Mohican tribe.

 

"She was such a trailblazer, for at that time, you know. Not only was she a school teacher, but she was a woman and she was Native American,” said Nathalee Kristiansen, director of the Arvid E. Miller Museum.

Photos of Electa Quinney hang on the wall at the museum in bowler. Quinney was a woman dedicated to teaching, and learning everything she could.

 

"Even way back when education wasn't thought of being important to get a job, our tribe saw it as important and it was put in treaties that we could get an education,” Kristiansen said.

 

Quinney taught members of the Stockbridge Munsee Mohican tribe in New York before they were forced to move to Wisconsin, and when they got here she taught in a public school.

 

That was almost unheard of for the 1800’s, especially while moving.

 

"We got to Indiana and we had to, our land was sold, the government had sold our land, so we had to move to Lake Winnebago and then up to Kaukauna, so it was constantly moving. That's probably why she didn't have any kids,” Kristiansen said.

Schools on the reservation carry her name; an elementary school in Kaukauna and a building at UW Milwaukee do as well. The tribe says that makes them even more proud, and her picture hangs on the wall of elders, in recognition of her accomplishments.

 

"She was one of the first ones to learn the language so she could teach the English to us. She knew we needed it to survive,” Kristiansen said.

 

Quinney is just one of the 13 teachers honored this week on the Stockbridge-Munsee reservation.

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