Lighting a Path of Hope for the Future "Keepers of the Fire"
Connection with the Land

Investing in the Children

A deep connection with the land guides the future for the Forest County Potawatomi Community. Tribal elders are ensuring they leave the land BETTER than when their ancestors settled in the Crandon area in the late 1800s.

Their hard work investing millions of dollars in the health, wellness, education, environment, and future generations of the “Keepers of the Fire” with energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainability programs is why they were honored with a 2023 Energy Efficiency Excellence Award.

Cultural Traditions
Community Wellness
Health and Wellness Center

“We're going to be bringing in to do MRIs locally here, which that has not been available in this geographic area in the past.”

Getting medical care many take for granted, such as getting an MRI, wasn’t easy for members of the Forest County Potawatomi Community. A 45-minute drive to Eagle River was the closest for many medical tests.

“They're triple paned, high efficiency windows with bird glazing … so we don't have birds… you know…that’s been a problem.”

Birds hitting the glass windows of the new medical center would be culturally sensitive which is why all new FCP construction projects are required to respect and ensure cultural traditions and beliefs are strictly followed.

Community Leadership
Keepers of he Fire

“I really want to congratulate you on showing that leadership here in your community,” said Focus on Energy Managing Director Lisa Stefanik at the award ceremony. “This beautiful community center and all that you've done here to highlight energy efficiency and renewable energy use.”

The community center is more than just a gathering place – it is a large investment for the tribal nation’s future.

This video highlights just how important this investment will be.

“Our children are not going to be forgotten…thus the birth of the building…let’s go all out for our kids.”

CommUNITY Center
Community Center

A place for everyone especially the children, to learn their language, and cook traditional meals; pass down the history of their tribe through classes and events.

“Thayek ethe dnekmegzek myew – the place where everybody plays. In that word community is unity. And that’s what this place represents. This is where our elders, adults, children, babies can all gather and play together.”

The FCP Community Farm provides year-round vegetables and fruits for the general public as well as tribal nation residents. And staying true to their mission of sustainability, the farm has almost zero waste; everything that can be reused or recycled is reused or recycled.

Community Collaboration

“Job creation, lower environmental impacts, increased competitiveness, and reduced dependence on non-renewable resources,” said Public Service Commission of Wisconsin Commissioner Summer Strand. “But I’m in incredibly impressed by the collaboration between Focus on Energy, Wisconsin public service, and the Forest County Potawatomi in making these upgrades possible.”

Since 2010, Focus on Energy, WPS, We Energies, and the Forest County Potawatomi have collaborated on:

  • Solar panel installations.
  • Led projects.
  • Boiler replacements.

That saved an estimated 179-gigawatt hours of electricity and 3.5 million therms of natural gas. This means the community has saved enough energy to power more than 18,000 homes for a year.

Community Strength
Tribal Elders

“This is a little strange,” said Dean Curtis, WPS & We Energies Key Account Manager for Potawatomi. “We're celebrating the fact that the Forest County Potawatomi community is buying less of our product now. The more I thought about it, it does make sense that you want strong customers, you want financially strong customers, you want customers that can really be in it for the long run.”

By the end of 2023, the FCP Community will have:

  • installed air source heat pumps in tribal member homes replacing gas furnaces.
  • updated HVAC and lighting in tribal buildings.
  • created a tribal nation energy plan working with Focus on Energy on a five-year comprehensive plan.
  • perform level 3 energy audits and retro commissioning several buildings.
  • purchase nest thermostats and installing them inside tribal member homes.

“As you can see all around the community, we are trying to do more,” said James Crawford, Chairman, FCP Executive Council. “And we will continue down that path, we will get better and better at it.”

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