Why Gathering Waters?: I Serve to Advance My Tribe’s Beliefs & Goals

“Why Gathering Waters” is a special blog series that tells the stories of our supporters and why they choose to support Gathering Waters. Our third blog post of this series was written by Jeff Crawford, Gathering Waters Conservancy board member and a member of the Potawatomi Tribe. Continue reading to learn what Gathering Waters means to Jeff.

My name is Jeff Crawford and I have served as the Attorney General for the Forest County Potawatomi Community in Milwaukee since 1997.  I am also a member of the Forest County Potawatomi Tribe. Prior to my current role, I was an associate at Robins, Kaplan, Miller, & Ciresi and then an attorney for General Mills. More recently I have served Wisconsin as a member of the board of the Governor’s Task Force on Global Warming and as a board member at both the Wisconsin Business Council and Gathering Waters Conservancy.

Through my work with the Potawatomi, I have spent considerable time on land preservation and trust issues.  Throughout the 1800’s, much of the Potawatomi land holdings were taken.  Since then, the tribe has been trying to reacquire lands to fulfill its desire to live in accordance with its beliefs. These beliefs include the existence of special places in Wisconsin that need to be preserved, protected, and treated with respect.  I chose to join the GWC board because I recognized an organization with shared beliefs, and the opportunity to advance those beliefs outside the tribal context was appealing to me.

The Potawatomi is working to manifest its land ethic through the tribal land process, just like GWC works with local land trusts and engages government and private partners to pursue its mission.   Because of our shared goals, we have opportunities for information sharing, goal setting and building strategic partnerships.  I am proud to be a part of such a strong organization – both the board and the staff are excellent – through which I can work to advance the goals of my tribe and help to protect the special places in Wisconsin.