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Partnerships in the Refuge System: International Wildlife Refuge Alliance and the Wyandot of Anderdon Nation

Joann Van Aken is the Executive Director of the International Wildlife Refuge Alliance (IWRA). The mission of the International Wildlife Refuge Alliance is to support the first international wildlife refuge in North America by working through partnerships to protect, conserve, and manage the Refuge’s wildlife and habitats; and to create exceptional conservation, recreational, and educational experiences, to develop the next generation of conservation stewards.


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Members of the Wyandot of Anderdon Nation, a native american tribe participating in a smudging ceremony | International Wildlife Refuge Alliance

The International Wildlife Refuge Alliance (IWRA), the Friends organization to the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge (USFWS), is proud to have a strong relationship with the local Wyandot of Anderdon Native American Nation. The local Wyandot are part of the larger Wyandotte Nation, that includes more than 5,000 members with headquarters located in Oklahoma. Their commitment to conservation and preserving the culture of the Wyandot led them to the fight to save the Humbug Marsh from residential development, and has led to them becoming a part of the next generation of conservation stewards.

It all began when . . .

The Humbug Marsh, the last mile of undeveloped shoreline on the Detroit River, was to be filled in and developed. Thousands of area residents joined with government agencies and nonprofit organizations to preserve one of the last natural areas on the Detroit River in the United States.

The fight to save the 410-acre Humbug Marsh received an incredible amount of attention and the communities along the Detroit River freely expressed their allegiance to this property. Thousands of local supporters let their voices be heard. The Wyandot of Anderdon Nation were among those who took a stand. Today, Humbug Marsh is the centerpiece of the Detroit International Wildlife Refuge, which is North America’s first and only international wildlife refuge.

Much to learn!
Members of the Wyandot of Anderdon Nation educating the community at an open house | International Wildlife Refuge Alliance

It was during this time of vocal concern the chief of the local Wyandotte of Anderdon Nation came forward to the refuge manager; 16 years later, he remains the best of friends with the Refuge staff and IWRA. The Wyandot of Anderdon Nation continue to share their culture with their presence and artifacts annually at open houses in the Humbug Marsh Unit of the Refuge during the summer, and also with some 2,000 students who attend the annual World Wetlands Day. During the summer of 2013, Chief Billy Friend, of the Oklahoma Wyandotte Nation, performed a pipe ceremony to bless the restoration of the Refuge gateway, followed by John Hartig, the Refuge Manager, who gave a brief presentation on the work of the Refuge resulting in a unique opportunity to showcase the work of the Refuge.

It only takes a phone call and they are by our sides helping with whatever is needed.  We cherish our friendship and look forward to the future with them by our side.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.refugeassociation.org/2014/08/partnerships-in-the-refuge-system-international-wildlife-refuge-alliance-and-the-wyandot-of-anderdon-nation/

1 comment

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