LAC DU FLAMBEAU - Only five Master Builders of traditional Ojibwe birchbark canoes remain in the United States.
Two of them are in Lac du Flambeau.
But those two aren't just builders. They're teachers of tradition and culture.
In seven days, Wayne Valliere Sr.'s 32nd traditional Ojibwe canoe will be ready for launch.
"The best part of these canoes is working with the younger people," Valliere said.
This week, Valliere is working with four apprentices, preparing bark, pitch, and roots.
The materials hold a tribal meaning.
Alone, each is weak. Together, they're strong.
"The teaching for the Anishinaabe, and all people in the world is being together, helping one another," Valliere said. "Helping one another, we all become stronger, no matter what our race is, what our creed is, what our gender is. By working together, we all become strong."
"Our culture is a living culture here in this territory," said April Lindala.
Lindala is a professor at Northern Michigan University. This summer, she was hired as the Gekendaasowin Learning Village Project Coordinator, pairing master artists with young apprentices.
"Learning our culture is so valuable because there have been so many efforts for the learning to stop, the voices to be erased, the language to be annihilated," Lindala said. "Being able to see these kind of arts rejuvenated, revitalized, is going to help tell that story of an ancient culture for years and years to come."
Along with teaching his craft, Valliere reverses the loss of language, using and teaching Ojibwe as he goes.
Valliere says the canoes make the builders, like their traditions, timeless.
"These canoes carry so much culture," Valliere said. "It would be a shame to have that torch in our community go dim, and worse yet, go out."
Also in Lac du Flambeau this summer, Greg Johnson is working with apprentices. He's teaching the art of making cradleboards for babies.
NORTHWOODS - Wisconsin's lakes have a lot to offer their visitors. But some, like aquatic invasive species, are unwelcome due to the damage they can cause to native ecosystems.
There's a growing effort to prevent, contain, and control the spread of these aquatic invasive species, especially this holiday weekend. As part of the Clean Boats, Clean Waters program, volunteers will be stationed across popular boat landings, doing inspections and educating boaters on how to properly clean their boats.
"Any type of holiday weekend, especially the fourth of July when there's a lot more boat traffic, there's an emphasis on getting more awareness out there," said DNR recreation warden Justin Bender.
Aside from volunteers, most boat landings also have information posted on aquatic invasive species and the laws regarding boat cleaning. Citations for not properly cleaning your boats typically run $200-300.
CRANDON - The Forest County Humane Society works around the clock to help animals find forever homes. But taking care of those animals during their stay doesn't just take a lot of time; it takes a lot of money, too.
The shelter got a helping hand, thanks to a $35,000 grant from the ASPCA. It's part of an initiative to help brick-and-mortar shelters improve their animals' quality of life.
Shelter director Angie Schaefer says that money paid for 20 new cat-condos, fencing for two new dog yards, and several other much-needed supplies.
"We're small, we're in a small community, so to raise that kind of money to get these items would have been quite a task. For them to step in and do that for us is amazing," said Schaefer.
Schaefer said the extra yards will allow dogs to spend more time outside and socialize with each other.
If you're interested in volunteering or donating to the humane society, visit its website for more information.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - President Donald Trump will begin his Independence Day weekend on Friday with a patriotic display of fireworks at Mount Rushmore, an event expected to draw thousands where masks and social distancing aren't required as coronavirus cases spike across the country.
Trump is expected to speak at the event, which has issued 7,500 tickets to watch fireworks that he says will be a "display like few people have seen."
- The U.S. headed into the Fourth of July weekend with many parades and fireworks displays canceled, beaches and bars closed, and health authorities warning that this will be a crucial test of Americans' self-control that could determine the trajectory of the surging coronavirus outbreak.
With confirmed cases climbing in 40 states, governors and local officials have ordered the wearing of masks in public, and families were urged to celebrate their independence at home. Even then, they were told to keep their backyard cookouts small.
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