The Story of Act 31: How Native History Came to Wisconsin Classrooms

By J P Leary

Paperback: $28.95

ISBN: 978-0-87020-832-4

360 pages, 6 x 9, E-book edition available


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From forward-thinking resolution to violent controversy and beyond.

Since its passage in 1989, a state law known as Act 31 requires that all students in Wisconsin learn about the history, culture, and tribal sovereignty of Wisconsin's federally recognized tribes.

The Story of Act 31 tells the story of the law's inception--tracing its origins to a court decision in 1983 that affirmed American Indian hunting and fishing treaty rights in Wisconsin, and to the violent public outcry that followed the court's decision. Author J P Leary paints a picture of controversy stemming from past policy decisions that denied generations of Wisconsin students the opportunity to learn about tribal history.

J P Leary is an associate professor of humanities, First Nations studies, and history at the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay. He is also a member of the graduate faculty in education and a faculty affiliate with the Professional Program in Education Center for First Nations Studies. He served as the American Indian Studies Consultant at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction from 1996 until 2011. Leary earned a master’s in American history from the University of Oklahoma and a PhD in educational policy studies from UW–Madison.