As the Urban Native Vote Organizer, Anne fosters relationships with Indigenous relatives and organizations in Milwaukee, Madison, and the Menominee and Ho-Chunk Nations, through respect, humility, honestly, and humor. All Native American Indian peoples’ voices should be heard in the fight to protect our environment. Anne learned from her father, Hilary “Sparky” Waukau, that relationships are key in the battle to protect Mother Earth and her resources in perpetuity.
Her work with the Wisconsin Native Vote program is housed under our 501c3 sister organization, Wisconsin Conservation Voices.
I was born and raised on the Menominee Reservation, where the oldest residents in Wisconsin live. I was blessed to spend summers playing with my siblings (13 of us) and neighborhood kids in the cool pristine waters and lush green forests that lined our backyard. In winter, we skated on frozen ponds and sped down hills on a makeshift sled – a hood removed from a broken-down car. Our playground was snow covered yards and hills that glistened like diamonds in the moonlight. Stars were our umbrella on clear nights and the air was cool and refreshing.
While attending Marquette University in Milwaukee, I realized I had taken the natural beauty of my reservation for granted. I committed to learn how to preserve it, along with the land of all other tribes in the state.
I learned the value of conservation and organizing from my father Sparky Waukau. Dad was a revered environmental activist and tribal leader – and we’d spend hours and days talking about the sanctity of our land. Dad brought the battle to protect our lands and waters to political arenas. He cultivated relationships with tribal leaders across the state and country, along with state and US legislators. He fought endlessly to stop powerful polluters from dumping waste, building mines, and destroying Mother Earth. On his final day, he told us: “I want you to continue my legacy of fighting for the environment and for the rights of our people.”
I have asked the Creator for the strength and courage to become half the environmental warrior my father was, and to continue his battles for the environment until my last breath. I have instilled in my children, Hillary, (Dad named her after him the day before he died. She was born five months later) and Will, the importance of protecting Mother Earth. As the urban organizer with Native Vote, I will continue my father’s legacy and be the example to my own children Dad was to me.
- Enrolled member of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin
- Marquette University, BA Journalism; Urban Affairs Minor
- Member Marquette University’s Council on Native American Affairs
- Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center (GLIIHC) Board of Directors, Vice Chair
- GLIIHC Circles of Care Advisory Board
- GLIIHC Red Shawl Gala fundraiser, Chair
- Indian Community School of Milwaukee, Inc., Board of Directors
- Strong Native Minds, Board of Directors
- Wisconsin School Public Relations Association, board member, officer
Attending pow wows, staring up at stars and the moon, watching the bold colors of a campfire, reading, and people.
I'm a conservation voter because our future generations deserve a thriving Mother Earth.
Favorite Place in Wisconsin: Anywhere on the Menominee Reservation, particularly on the banks of the Wolf River.