The mission of Cultural Landscape Legacies, Inc is to provide education, protection and preservation of the cultural heritage of the indigenous people who left their legacy on the landscape of the Upper Midwest.
The mission statement that accompanied our application for nonprofit status in Wisconsin is simple and straight-forward, but it is motivated by three implicit premises. These underlying concepts need to be made explicit since they reflect our visions – our concerns for the past and our hopes for the future.
The first assumption – and the most important – is the shared recognition that modern Indian peoples are a very real part of the contemporary American cultural landscape. The past several decades have been witness to dramatic increases in affluence among many Indian peoples. Some tribes are using these new funds to buy land to replace, in at least some small part, territories that were ceded and subsequently settled by EuroAmericans. Other tribes have successfully fought for and have been awarded their rights assured under treaties. This has meant that Indian peoples have moved from their isolated reservations into other, more visible, places. In short, Indians are our neighbors. As the United States moves into this 21st century, we must not only recognize that we must learn to live with our new neighbors, but we must learn to appreciate the fact that they bring different points of view – different values and beliefs, and different views of what the future may hold – into our lives. We may not always agree with each other. We may feel uncomfortable when we deal with each other, but we simply must recognize that Indians bring to our table ideas and plans which can make our lives much richer and more rewarding. We, EuroAmericans and Indians, are forced to work together; the alternatives are unthinkable and untenable in a democratic society.
The second assumption that we, the members of Cultural Landscape Legacies, Inc., share is a deep desire to protect and preserve the legacies they have left. This we do not specifically to serve the Indians alone, but we recognize that, as Americans, that heritage is also basic to our self-awareness. In America, Indian heritage is very much a part of our understanding of just exactly who we are. Protecting and preserving their past also servesour needs.
The third assumption is that we, both Indians and non-Indians, are so deeply committed to sharing our growing awareness of each other that we are driven to pass that commitment on to others. Cultural Landscape Legacies has decided that education is the tool that serves our collective needs best. Our collective vision of the future is that we will work toward offering knowledge about Indian peoples, and we really do hope that what we teach will further understanding of both of us – Indians and Whites. Although we seldom articulate it well, we also hope that knowledge and understanding will lead us both to recognize that the wisdom to cooperate with each other will lead to forging a future that serves us both really quite well, even if it is creative and innovative in ways that we can not now predict.