HE, PING, Ph.D
The Wisconsin Winnebago Nation established a GIS Division in 1991, through a cooperative effort with the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Its goals were to use modern mapping technologies to preserve Winnebago historical sites, to support their land management and economic development. At the beginning, the program encountered difficulties in training, lab development and public awareness. After a series of applications in different areas of management, especially, in cultural preservation, the program generated support from a broad base in the Nation. The program has been playing an increasingly important role in decision making for the Winnebago government. The integration of technology with cultural concerns on an early stage of setting up, involving the Winnebago people in training and using existing sources to develop various applications were keys to the progress of the Winnebago GIS program.
INTRODUCTION The Wisconsin Winnebago Nation is a unique Indian Nation whose lands are scattered in more than 14 counties in southern and central Wisconsin and whose population is distributed in the long corridor area from Chicago to Twin Cities of Minneapolis & St.Paul. To preserve its rich historical heritage, promote economic development and efficient land management, the Wisconsin Winnebago Business Committee (WWBC), the governing body of the Winnebago Nation, established a GIS Division in 1991, through a cooperative effort with the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since its establishment, many applications have been developed utilizing this modern technology to support the governmental decision making. The GIS Division has being played an active role in the Nation's historical preservation, land management, economic development, and other areas. BACKGROUND The Wisconsin Winnebago people have tradition to preserve Native American culture and heritage. The ancestors of today's Winnebago people once occupied a huge territory in Wisconsin. There are thousands of mounds and burial sites left in the region, as part of the Winnebago's historical heritage. Due to poor records and documents, the locations of most sites are unknown to local units of government. Many sites have been damaged or destroyed by increasing land development. In addition, the Nation's land holdings are currently scattered in 14 counties. Lack of information such as current title, land cover, land use and accessibility, etc. made it difficult for land development and management. In summer 1991, the Winnebago Nation sent three students to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to accept training in surveying, photogrammetry and digital database development, intending to use modern mapping technology to attack some of problems it faced. Five months later, the Nation established a GIS Division in its Economic Development Department. It was one of the earliest GIS programs among Indian Nations. As with implementing GIS technology in other agencies, the program encountered many difficulties in the beginning. Shortly after the program was established, the Nation experienced a severe financial crisis, and the budget for GIS program was only partially materialized. Very limited hardware and software were available to support continuous training and application development. Proposals were sent out to the Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri) and a few hardware companies to seek support from outside. Esri responded very positively and the Division received a donation of 5-copies of pc-ArcInfo for training purpose. A digitizer was also received from Summagraphics. The GIS lab was very grateful for this support, especially in such a time of need. Another difficulty the program faced was GIS awareness. At the time we started, only limited people had experience in computer, and most people in the Nation have never heard of GIS. To educate members in the Nation and promote the program, a short training course to introduce GIS technology was conducted soon after the Division was established. The majority of the class were Winnebago members. This course generated influence far exceeding the limits of the classroom. Those people who attended the course became best supporters to the program. Some of them became GIS trainees in the program later. The Division also held demonstration in the Nation's general council meeting and other occasions to promote the program and technology. The Division also received support by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) through its regional office in Minneapolis and Geographic Data Service Center in Lakewood, Colorado. The staff was sent to attend GIS training courses offered by BIA. A computer-link between the BIA's service center and the Winnebago GIS lab was established. Thus, existing digital data in BIA were transferred to the GIS lab and integrated with other data developed in house. APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT At the same time that staff training and lab development was underway, application development were started. The capacity of GIS was gradually recognized through different applications. The applications ranged from land and historical site mapping to GIS support in health management. Through these application projects , the staff's technical capability was enhanced and the lab facilities were expanded. More importantly, due to involvement of many other departments of the Nation in various projects, the program was greatly promoted and the technology and information were disseminated. The Division was playing an active role in many aspects of Nation's management. Several key applications during the three-year period are described in the following sections. Land and Population Mapping Due to the large geographic span of the Nation's land and population, a set of land and population maps for the 14 counties where the Nation owns lands was developed to serve an overall land and human service management plan. The base layers included major roads, minor roads, hydrography and minor civil township from 1990 TIGER data, supplied by the Applied Population Lab of the University of Wisconsin-Madison in ArcInfo format. The land data were downloaded from BIA's computer and updated in the Winnebago GIS lab. The population data were taken from the Nation's enrollment database, aggregated in minor civil township, and integrated to TIGER data as an additional attribute. All layers were projected into the Wisconsin UTM coordinate system. ArcView was utilized to create the maps, which was found to be very efficient and easy to use. These maps (one of them shown in Figure 1) are being used by the WWBC members and other departments as base information for land management and development, housing and public works, as well as health management. The Division was requested to update these maps once a year to reflect rapid changes of land holdings and population. GIS Modeling of Burial Mounds In 1992, GIS Division received a grant from the State Historical Society of Wisconsin to survey and map burial sites in Rock County and to develop a GIS model for mound locations. As results of the project, a total of 20 extant mounds were identified and mapped. The data were in both hardcopy and digital format. Mound location data in Dane County were utilized for developing a GIS model, because it had the most complete mound data set and other environmental data were also readily available in digital formats. ArcInfo was utilized for analyzing spatial relationships of mound sites and other natural and cultural variables. Key geographic variables included in the analysis were historical vegetation (1830), soils, topography and hydrography. Correlation between vegetation and soil data proved very useful for predicting mound site locations. It was found that the distribution of marsh and certain types of oak cover were significant factors related to mounds. Specific soil associations to characterize mound locations were also found. Distance to streams and aspects of mounds were also considered in the model. Maps to indicate the area with high probabilities of mound sites were generated. This research project contributed to a better understanding of meaning and functions of these mounds as cultural landmarks in the lives of ancient Native Americans and was appreciated greatly by the elders in the Nation. Eagle Mounds Preservation Another area GIS was involved in historical preservation was to promote land purchase for significant historical sites. In early 1992, a group of 64 effigy mounds, mostly eagles, was found in Moscoda, Wisconsin. They were part of legends for the Winnebago people once lived in this area. Although many mounds of this mound group have been plowed, a few remaining mounds on the Wisconsin River bank and detailed survey notes taken by T.H. Lewis, a surveyor in 1886, provided a rare opportunity to restore this cultural phenomena. The GIS Division recommended that the Nation acquire lands for protecting remaining mounds and restoring the Winnebago culture on the site. The Division provided the site developmental plan including mound restoration, buffalo range and cultural park development, etc. The proposed project generated large public attention. The Wisconsin State Journal reported this project in detail on its front page. Through many people's supports and efforts, the site and the surrounding farm, a total of 642 acres of land, were acquired by the Nation. It was the largest land acquisition activity in the Nation's history. It reserved a place where the Eagles can speak to all from generation to generation. Colorful maps overlaying mounds and topographic features on the site produced by GIS staff were very helpful in our solicitation for support and the final decision making by the Nation's government (a portion of Eagle mound site is shown in Figure 2). Application in Health Management Due to scattered population distribution, health service is always a difficult task for the Winnebago Nation, even though there are five Winnebago clinics in different counties of Wisconsin. Also, geographic characteristics of particular diseases among the Winnebago people were of concern in the Nation's Health Department. After introducing the GIS technology to the Health Department and subsequent discussions, a joint proposal to integrate the Nation's clinic database with GIS data and utilize GIS to analyze geographic distribution of diabetes patients was finalized. The project was funded by the Indian Health Services, a federal program, in 1993. In this project, a prototype procedure to extract patient data from the clinic database and integrate them to GIS data was developed. Diabetic patient data were extracted as samples and overlaid with geographic data such as transportation, hydrography, Winnebago land boundaries, etc. Geographic distribution patterns of the patients were mapped. Ratio of patients over total population for each minor civil township was also calculated and displayed. Higher ratio areas were identified and maps were provided to health professionals for further investigation. This project provided an example of data integration and sharing among different departments and demonstrated the capability of GIS technology in analyzing patterns and trends. Housing Management Database Development The Winnebago Nation currently manages five housing sites in four counties for its people in Wisconsin. These houses were built through federal government programs more than 10 years ago. The Nation's Housing Department was under pressure to respond to increasing requests from residents for house maintenance and management. Also, as the Nation's economy expands, business entities and more houses were planned to be developed on these sites and surround lands. The GIS Division was developing large scale housing site databases to support these activities. The base layers were houses, roads, vegetation, property boundary, contours, etc. The secondary information included utility, fire hydrants, fence lines, light poles, power lines, underground pipe lines, etc. Family sizes, income levels, rentals and other housing management data, provided by the Housing Department, were also incorporated into databases. Aerial photographs were scanned and existing hardcopy maps were digitized. GPS equipment was utilized to help capture ground features. These databases provided abundant information to support the Nation's housing management and business development. CONCLUSION The Wisconsin Winnebago GIS Division started from training and lab development to utilize the technology to support many important management decisions in the Nation. During three years of GIS implementation, the Division was very active in developing different applications, and promoting data dissemination among different departments in the Nation. The program generated broad support and many departments approached the Division to seek solutions for more efficient management from GIS. The technology has also brought changes in the administrative structure. The land management and historical preservation, the two key activities GIS initially supported, have been greatly promoted. The Nation established a land office and a historical preservation office. GIS Division continued to support their functions and was also involved with other nationwide management activities. Integration of the technology with cultural concerns, involving the Winnebago members in training and utilizing existing sources to develop applications in early stage were keys to the progress of the Winnebago GIS program. Continuous development of the Winnebago GIS program lies on integration of GIS databases with existing databases in different departments to provide GIS services to daily management activities for the Nation. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT Many individuals have contributed to the Winnebago GIS program development. Especially I want to thank Chairman JoAnn Jones and other WWBC members of the Winnebago Nation for their strong commitment, Dr. James Scherz of the University of Wisconsin-Madison for his initial training, promotion and continuous support and Mr. Jack Dangermond, the president of Esri, Inc, for his strong support. Many thanks should also be given to Professors Steven Hackenberger of University of Wisconsin Centers and Robert Salzer of Beloit College, Mr. Jerry Sullivan and Math Henizel of University of Wisconsin-Madison, Mr. Carl Hardzinski of BIA at Minneapolis, Mr. Andrew Bieber of Esri, Inc., late Ms. Jan Beaver, an independent artist, as well as Mr. Larry Johns, Mr. Fabian Carrimon, Mr. Rich Brown, Ms. Susan Coffey, Mr. Joe Hanson of the Winnebago GIS Division.