Building Critical Infrastructure

NiiJii and our partners have built or renovated 20 buildings (including health facilities, judicial facilities, higher education facilities, public offices, community centers and retail space), improved three facilities (cultural heritage, pollution reduction and cleanup, water/drainage), rehabilitated 193 houses, constructed three industrial parks and 408 new wastewater hookups, installed eight new municipal water and sewer systems, constructed three playgrounds and improved seven streets or sidewalks, 46 miles of roads and five miles of trails.

Meeting Basic Needs

  • NiiJii is coordinating mortgage programs with the Menominee Tribal Housing Department to provide down payment assistance and increase access to affordable housing.
  • We are supporting creation of the Mole Lake Health Clinic.
  • NiiJii provided seed funding for creation of the Minobimaadiziwin Wellness Center which helps residents in Lac du Flambeau prioritize a healthy lifestyle and recover from substance abuse, obesity and diabetes. A comprehensive Medical Center is also being developed.
  • NiiJii helped to establish the Mole Lake Elder's Center.
  • NiiJii is supporting the creation of community gardens which provide access to affordable, healthy food.
  • NiiJii funded training for Mole Lake's volunteer firefighters and is supporting Disaster Preparedness Planning.

Creating a Healthy Local Economy

  • NiiJii programs have created or retained 2,388 jobs. The impact is significant on the three-Reservation Enterprise Community, which has a total of 6,612 residents.
  • NiiJii provides comprehensive business development support to Native entrepreneurs. In an average year, NiiJii helps start 19 new businesses and expand another 34.
  • NiiJii established an independent Community Development Financial Institution to expand loan capital for Native businesses. By 2007 the Fund had provided 11 loans for $130,000 with all payments current.
  • NiiJii funded the feasibility study and enabled access to federal funds for Menominee College's Forest Products Lab, a partnership with UW-Madison which will serve as a national model for university/federal partnerships with land grant universities, Native Nations and forestland owners.
  • NiiJii provided seed funding to Menominee Tribal Enterprises to research expansion of value added production in forest products and enabled access to federal funding.

Creating Safe Places for Kids and Developing Youth Leadership

  • The Lakeland Union High School Intercultural Leadership Initiative Transition Day Program brings together Native and non-Native students to bridge cultural differences and build self-esteem amongst 8th graders. A dialog between schools has been established on such issues as discipline, substance abuse and common curriculum.
  • The Mole Lake Youth Initiative includes peer mentoring, parental involvement programs, leadership, cultural and entrepreneurial development. Grades, attendance and rates of school completion have improved dramatically amongst participants. The Initiative also resulted in a permanent youth center at the Boys and Girls Club of the Sokaogon Chippewa Community.

Improving Educational Opportunities

  • NiiJii helped to access funding for Menominee College's expansion. The number of students graduating has increased each year since 1992. The proportion of the Menominee population that has attained college degrees has increased from 7% to 16%. The number of Certified Licensed Native American Teachers has increased by 11%. NiiJii also funded rehabilitation of East-West College.
  • NiiJii assisted in the conversion of a vacant smoke shop to a multi-purpose Center for Adult Education in Lac du Flambeau.

Preserving Native Language and Culture

  • NiiJii is preserving Native languages (Ojibwe and Menominee) through tapes, manuals, classes and language camps for adults and youth.
  • NiiJii is supporting the restoration of key historic sites, including Mole Lake Dinesen House and Lac du Flambeau BIA Boys Dormitory, which educate people on cultural practices (beading, music, food, etc.) and history (such as the attempt to eliminate Native culture by "re-educating" children).
  • NiiJii is helping to establish the Menominee Cultural Museum and has funded cultural preservation activities such as workshops on traditional uses of forest products and facilities for local artists to teach, share and sell traditional crafts.

Protecting the Environment and Increasing Eco-Tourism

  • NiiJii played a critical role in the successful effort to protect the Wolf River against the environmental threat of mining by supporting public documentaries and broadcasts on the value of the cultural resources protected.
  • NiiJii is working with site partners to create a multi-purpose recreation trail system in the Lac du Flambeau area.
  • NiiJii supported development of environmental sciences curriculum and Native cultural curriculum in local schools.
  • NiiJii's Americorps* VISTAs worked with residents to complete neighborhood beautification projects that generated neighborhood pride and supported tourism development.