2023 Baldwin Funded Projects

Anishinaabe-Mishtadimoons Inawendiwin: Restoring and Awakening the Cultural and Ecological Context

Project Leaders: 
Jeneile Luebke, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing
Brian McInnes, Associate Professor, School of Human Ecology 

In 1976, only four Lac La Croix Ojibwe ponies, mishtadimoonsag, remained after facing near-decimation from both U.S. and Canadian governments. The reciprocal exchange between the Ojibwe and their four-legged relatives formed Ojibwe horse society traditions. Colonial policy aimed at decimating Indigenous lifeways, languages, and cultural traditions, disrupted time-honored systems of human-animal interrelationship and the values, ethics, and spiritual connections that were a part of Anishinaabe-Mishtadimoons’ interrelationship. The breed is critically endangered with only 20 registered Ojibwe ponies currently residing in the United States. Ojibwe people have experienced similar losses, with only 20 first speakers of Wisconsin Ojibwe remaining. The Humble Horse, a 501(c)3 organization in the state of Wisconsin, has seven Ojibwe ponies and is dedicated to the preservation, education, and reconnection of Ojibwe horses to their Anishinaabe human relatives and communities. We are interested in how these horses were integrated into community life and how these stories can strengthen culture, language, and life practices in Ojibwe communities today.

We will partner with The Humble Horse’s founder Em Loerze (White Earth Ojibwe) and others at The Humble Horse to collect Ojibwe language stories of the ponies and develop a learning guide to help facilitate healing and education for Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. As Indigenous researchers, we will utilize a Seven Teachings knowledge-building framework in our work with six Lac La Croix and Bois Forte members who grew up with Ojibwe ponies.

Building Capacity to Improve Surgery and Anesthesia Care in Sub-Saharan Africa

Project Leaders:
Nabeel Zafar, Surgical Oncologist, Department of Surgery, School of Medicine and Public Health
Deborah Rusy, Professor (CHS), Department of Anesthesiology, School of Medicine and Public Health

Approximately 4 million people die each year from surgery or anesthesia-related complications. Two-thirds of the related disability and premature death that results from lack of safe and effective surgical care is in low-and middle-income countries and at least half of this death and disability is preventable. Hospitals in these countries could thus benefit from quality improvement programs aimed at improving perioperative outcomes. The UW Departments of Surgery and Anesthesiology are national and global leaders in this area. To address the surgery and anesthesia crisis, with national partners we have established a strong bilateral collaboration with two hospitals in Sub-Saharan Africa, the University Teaching Hospital in Zambia and Hawassa University in Ethiopia. We aim to build local capacity for surgical and anesthesia quality improvement programs in these settings. Our goal is to develop a model in Zambia and Ethiopia for sustainable quality improvement training and implementation in low-resource settings that ultimately improves perioperative outcomes. If successful, this model can then be expanded to other low-and middle-income countries to reduce perioperative mortality and morbidity for millions of patients worldwide.

Indigenous Cultural Capacity Building: Wisconsin-Sámi Collaborations

Project Leaders: 
Thomas DuBois, Professor, German Nordic & Slavic, College of Letters and Science
B. Marcus Cederstrom, Teaching Faculty III, German Nordic & Slavic, College of Letters and Science

This project aims to create lasting and productive linkages between Wisconsin Indigenous and Indigenous-serving institutions and counterparts in Sápmi that will facilitate future collaborations in the areas of educational and cultural events, creative entrepreneurship, and sustainable practices. A series international “summits” with component workshops, artist demonstrations, public events, discussions, and community-led cultural sharing will aim to build robust relations of trust and mutual interest between Ojibwe, Menominee and Sámi culture workers-educators, artists, museum professionals and creative entrepreneurs together with university-based institutional allies working in the areas of language revitalization, cultural restoration, and Indigenous sustainability. Workshops and presentations will take place on the UW-Madison campus, the College of the Menominee Nation, and Waaswaaganing/Lac du Flambeau reservation and at partner universities and Sámi community sites and institutions in Norway. A culminating summit will take place in Madison to share perspectives and identify further steps in the process of decolonization in the communities involved. The project will result in publications and conference presentations related to community-engaged research and the importance of inter-Indigenous/trans-Indigenous sharing in the work of decolonization. Additionally, the project will assist in developing a shared repertoire of best practices that will inspire, model, and advance decolonial praxis for Indigenous nations across two continents.

MaSE: Mutual Learning for the Defense and Culturally Acceptable Use of Indigenous Biodiversity

Project Leaders:
Claudia Calderón, Teaching Faculty II, Department of Horticulture, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Jean-Michel Ané, Professor, Department of Bacteriology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Genetic resources collected in the fields of Indigenous communities have been the raw material out of which scientists have developed the crop varieties that are globally traded. The contributions of Indigenous peoples in developing and safeguarding these resources have gone largely unrecognized. The unrecompensed collection and use of their seeds and excluding Indigenous peoples from participating in framing the goals of scholarly endeavors have been described as a loss of seed sovereignty. Agreements like the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Agriculture and the Nagoya Protocol—which were established to promote fairer “access and benefit-sharing” of plant genetic resources—have not worked as intended. Indigenous communities that are rich repositories of crop genetic diversity continue to express a deep distrust of scientists, institutions, and governments of the global North as well as those of their own nations. We aim to address this issue by creating a scientific and social network between members of Oaxacan communities, the Autonomous University of Mexico, and the University of Wisconsin, by organizing a series of events directed by Indigenous leaders that will lay the groundwork for an understanding of Indigenous ways of living and thinking. The long-term goal of this collaboration would be to produce a set of guidelines that will be broadly shared in an effort for fair, transparent, participatory, and mutually respectful collaborations around the defense and culturally acceptable use of genetic resources that Indigenous peoples around the world communally safeguard.

The Milwaukee Property Tax Appeals Project

Project Leaders:
Bernadette Atuahene, Professor, James E. Jones, Chair in Law, Law School
Mitch, Clinical Professor, Law School

The Milwaukee Property Tax Appeals Project aims to stop local governments from foreclosing on low-value properties for delinquent property tax bills, which often stem from local governments illegally and/or inequitably over assessing property taxes. A recent study shows that, across the country, local governments charge Black and Hispanic homeowners a 10 to 13 percent higher tax rate than whites. As a result, these homeowners must pay $300 to $400 more per year, on average, than a similarly situated white homeowner for the same public services. Wisconsin is no exception to the national trend. The state has the third worst Black homeownership rate in the country. In the wake of the Great Recession, the number of property tax foreclosures in Milwaukee skyrocketed. Despite the staggering number of property tax foreclosures, no Milwaukee nonprofits provide property tax foreclosure prevention services to at-risk homeowners. As such, Milwaukee County continues to foreclose on hundreds of homes every year for nonpayment of property taxes. In 2022, the City of Milwaukee’s foreclosure petition included around 400 properties. To address these disparities, the Milwaukee Property Tax Appeals Project will partner with a local nonprofit, Community Advocates, to identify and implement the most effective tax foreclosure interventions. Milwaukee Property Tax Appeals Project will also help homeowners protest their property tax assessment and connect them with the Coalition for Property Tax Justice to join the fight to make property tax assessments equitable in Milwaukee and across the country.

Peer-Led Trauma Therapy for Re-entry

Project Leader:
Mike Koenigs, Professor, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine and Public Health

There is an urgent public health and safety need for more accessible and effective mental healthcare among formerly incarcerated people. This project proposal is guided by an ongoing community engagement effort between UW researchers and individuals directly impacted by the criminal-legal system. Formerly incarcerated community members have identified “trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)” as a treatment need, and they have identified “lack of access” and “lack of trust” as critical barriers to obtaining treatment. The goal of this project is to address this community-defined need through the development of a peer-led trauma treatment. By training peers (i.e., individuals with personal history of trauma and incarceration) to deliver PTSD treatment, we will overcome key barriers for PTSD treatment in this population. Working collaboratively with community partners, we have developed a novel proposal to enhance the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) program by training existing CPSs to deliver a group-based psychotherapy for PTSD. The UW study team members for this project have clinical research expertise in providing CPT as well as testing its feasibility and effectiveness. The community partners for this project are experts on the CPS program, peer support, incarceration, and re-entry. By transferring knowledge and skills regarding trauma therapy to this community, this project will empower those with relevant lived experience to provide more trustworthy and accessible care within their community. Demonstrating the feasibility and acceptability of this novel treatment approach is a critical initial step toward improving mental healthcare for an extremely underserved population.

Trans Care: An Online Intervention to Reduce Symptoms of Gender Dysphoria

Project Leaders: 
Louis Lindley, Teaching Assistant, Department of Counseling Psychology, School of Education
Stephanie Budge, Associate Professor, Department of Counseling Psychology, School of Education 

Trans and nonbinary (TNB) individuals frequently experience mental health disparities and heightened distress, often due to gender dysphoria, yet TNB people face numerous barriers to accessing traditional in-person psychotherapy. Fortunately, online therapeutic interventions have been identified to be effective at increasing the well-being of TNB individuals and demonstrate similar effectiveness when compared to psychotherapy. Despite the recent emergence of TNB-specific online interventions, there has yet to be an intervention specifically focused on reducing gender dysphoria. In response, our project aims to improve the well-being of TNB individuals through an online intervention called Trans Care that targets the reduction of symptoms of gender dysphoria. The Trans Care intervention will involve the creation of an online intervention comprising eight modules that will span psychoeducation on gender dysphoria and coping, training of specific coping interventions, and the development of a personalized coping plan. Inspired by the Wisconsin Idea, this project will result in a free intervention that can be disseminated widely throughout TNB communities to improve their mental health in an easy, free, and accessible way.