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Helping catalyze Milwaukee as a true model Water City-
a place where we all have a stake in the health of our waters and all share in their stewardship and benefits.

Although Milwaukee's water is very much on the civic agenda, the vast majority of the community is not included in the conversation and the health of the water is not always front and center.  Only by inviting leadership and innovation from throughout the city can we truly grasp what it means to be a model water city and activate the level of commitment necessary for achieving that vision.

It is up to us to revitalize and
protect our common waters.

We work towards a bright and hopeful environmental movement in Milwaukee by focusing on 6 initiatives that make up our



This song and video were produced as part of a land and water acknowledgement for the National Wildlife Federation’s national Wildlife Unite conference hosted virtually in Milwaukee, WI.  It was written by past Milwaukee Water Commons Board Member and continued friend, Margaret Noodin.


It is a testament to resilience, urban Indians, Native American students, big drum tradition and the way everything changes while staying the same. Land and water acknowledgements have become more common in recent years as people re-examine their connection to place and the political history of our Nations. This project is an example of creating a way to acknowledge not only the Indigenous stewards of the past, but also their voices as they echo into the present.


Song by Margaret Ann Noodin

Film by Finn Ryan and Trestle

Color by Chris Zuker

Score by S. Carey Singers: Diane Amour, Celeste Lumbee, Lacey Meyer, Marcus Carriaga, Nathon Flambeau


A production of the National Wildlife Federation


The offices of Milwaukee Water Commons are located in the Adams Garden Park Building on 1836 W. Fond du Lac Avenue in the Lindsay Heights neighborhood of Milwaukee.


We acknowledge that we live and work on traditional Potawatomi, Ho-Chunk and Menominee homeland along the southwest shores of Lake Michigan, one of the five Great Lakes, North America’s largest system of freshwater lakes.  This is where the people of Wisconsin’s sovereign Anishinaabe, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Oneida and Mohican nations remain present. The City of Milwaukee sits at the confluence of three rivers. Our rivers remind us that this is a good land (Milwaukee), where abundant wild rice once grew (Menominee), and where mixtures and diversity thrive (Kinnikinnick). 


We also acknowledge that this area was once a stop on the Underground Railroad


In 1842, with the help of Sam Brown, a local farmer on the land neighboring our offices, a 16-year old fugitive slave named Caroline Quarlls became the first to use the Wisconsin Underground Railroad. She was sheltered and assisted by Brown as she went from farm to farm on her journey to Canada.  For Quarlls and other enslaved Africans, the Milwaukee River, like other waterways, was a pathway to freedom.



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