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November 17, 2021

Midwest SOARRING Foundation 2021 Scholarships

Midwest SOARRING Foundation is pleased to announce our 2021 Janet Standing Bear Scholarship and our 2021 Myles Goddard Scholarship for all Native American students pursuing advanced degrees and trades in undergraduate or graduate education in any field. SOARRING is extremely grateful and appreciative to the Comcast Foundation for providing $5,000 in scholarship money towards the education of our people.

While tribal enrollment is not required, we are interested in applicants who can demonstrate their positive involvement in their community with Native American cultural activities and/or advancing Indigenous concerns. The scholarship amount is $1,000. The final decision to award the scholarship is at the discretion of the Midwest SOARRING Scholarship Committee.

Interested applicants must fill out the attached Scholarship Application form, obtain a letter of recommendation from a teacher/professor, employer, or community service director; submit a 500 word essay as detailed on the application form along with a recent copy of their school transcripts. The scholarship deadline has been extended. Scholarship applications must be postmarked by February 14, 2022. The scholarships will be awarded in March of 2022. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Mail your complete applications materials to:

Midwest SOARRING Foundation
P.O. Box 275
Lyons, IL. 60534

We thank you for your help in sharing this information and encourage all interested applicants to apply. Download Scholarship Package

June 6, 2021

SOARRING Spring 2021 News

Pilcher Park Totem Pole, Joliet, Illinois

Earlier this winter a woman noticed the poor condition of the totem pole located outside the Pilcher Park Nature Center in Joliet, Illinois. She mentioned it to Sandy Vasko, the director of the Will County Historical  Museum.  Sandy, in turn, contacted Joseph Standing Bear Schranz, Director of Midwest SOARRING Foundation, and asked him to evaluate it. Joseph found the totem pole of Alaskan Coastal origin to be damaged from the woodpeckers and the elements. He reported that if it was left outside for another three to five years, it would totally be degraded.

Pilcher Park Totem Pole

Pilcher Park Totem Pole

Joseph envisioned SOARRING members restoring the totem pole to it’s original condition under the supervision of master woodworkers, restoration experts at the Field Museum, as well as tribal consultants.  This idea was proposed to the Joliet Park District at their March 2021 meeting.  It appears that a wealthy Joliet hardware store owner in Joliet purchased the totem pole in the early 1900’s and brought it back to Joliet to put on display. According to Joseph totem poles serve seven or eight purposes for Native peoples.  As the project stands now further research is needed about how to restore the totem pole in a respectful and proper way. A second meeting will be held with the Joliet Park District once the research is complete.

Virtual Zoom Presentations

2021 has been a productive a busy year for SOARRING to date. SOARRING has sponsored a number of interesting virtual Zoom presentations led by knowledgeable leaders in their field since January. These include:

  • Copper-Sulfide Mining in Minnesota given by Water Legacy board member Don Arnosti,
  • Cultural Burning by Margo Robbins, Executive Director of the Cultural Fire Management Council of the Yurok Tribe in northern California,
  • Native Americans of Glen Ellyn, Illinois Past, Present and Future: a roundtable discussion with representatives from the College of DuPage Native American Studies Program, Glen Ellyn Historical Society, the Glen Ellyn Library, and SOARRING.
  • Restoring the Wild, Migratory Bison to the Yellowstone Ecosystem by James Holt, Executive Director of the Buffalo Field Campaign and member of the Nez Perce tribe in Idaho,
  • Bird Feeding Without Bird Feeders presented by Kate Caldwell, Interpretive Naturalist at the Plum Creek Nature Center near Beecher, IL.
  • Bear Ears National Monument and It’s Place In Utah’s Wilderness, given by Clayton Daughenbough, Organizing Director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. If you missed this presentation you can view a recording of it at this link: https://vimeo.com/545173904/b9a4a2dfdb. Senator Durbin re-introduced “America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act” into the U.S. Senate on May 10. Please thank Sen. Durbin by phone at 202.224.2152, by email https://www.durbin.senate.gov/contact/email, and/or in reaction to his Tweet at https://twitter.com/SenatorDurbin/status/1391876769356070912 including #ProtectWildUtah.  Please also contact Sen. Duckworth and thank her for promptly co-sponsoring America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (S.1535) 202.224.2854 and/or email https://www.duckworth.senate.gov/connect/email-tammy. Utah’s Red Rock Wilderness is a spectacular landscape and instrumental to addressing climate change and protecting Native American cultural resources from looting and vandalism.

Stay tuned for more stimulating Zoom programs in the fall. Check our calendar page or join our email newsletter list to be notified of upcoming events.

I&M Old Canal Days

Midwest SOARRING Foundation participated in the I&M Old Canal Days celebration held in a new location across from the Heritage Pioneer Village in Lockport, IL. on Saturday, June 12 and 13, 2021. SOARRING provided Native American dancers who danced in full regalia on Sunday afternoon as well as an artifact table which included bows, arrows, and jewelry. It was an opportunity to meet and greet the public and to encourage visitors to explore the old buildings of the historic Heritage Village Pioneer Village and visit the Midwest SOARRING Native American Cultural Center located in the historic Lockport Train Station, at 113 W. 13th Street.

SOARRING Summer Equinox Celebration

On Sunday, June 20, 2021 at 11am the summer equinox celebration will be led by Joseph Standing Bear Schranz at the Medicine Wheel Garden located at the Heritage Pioneer Village in Lockport, IL. All are welcome to attend. Following the ceremony, the Miles Goddard Scholarship will be awarded to two deserving candidates. Cake and coffee will follow.

SOARRING Community Picnic, Dellwood Park, Cardinal Pavillion, Lockport, IL. Saturday, June 26, 2021

Join SOARRING members to spend an afternoon in the sun. All are welcome. Our picnic begins at 11am.
To minimize germs we will break our potluck tradition and ask everyone to bring or arrange your own food. Also, to avoid musical park-benches bringing your own lawn chair is recommended.

Dell wood Park, Lockport, IL

This is a mask-optional event. If you want to maintain distance, keep your mask on. If you are vaccinated and want to share smiles and hugs, take your mask off! If you’re afraid, we understand and will miss you and look forward to seeing you again when you feel safe to join us. If you have any symptoms in the 2 weeks before the picnic, please stay home. Masks will be on the honor system.

This is a family friendly, drug and alcohol free event.

January 10, 2021

Twenty-Five Year Vision

MSF bison relocation to Cherokee Nation Oklahoma

Twenty-five years ago, I received word of a lone bison that was soon to be slaughtered. She was the last of a herd of thirteen located in Will County, Illinois. I immediately wanted to save her and contacted the farmer. Upon seeing her, I knew Midwest SOARRING Foundation would find a way to protect her life. Little did I know this would be the beginning of a twenty-five year mission to save many of these great herbivores.

The day arrived to move this lone bison to her new location. The truck backed up close to the corral to be near the make-shift loading ramp the farmer had constructed. Half way up the ramp, the bison became stuck between the rails. The farmer instructed me to climb to the top of the fence and handed me a broad board. He told me to give her a light tap. When I did, the bison expressed her unhappiness with a bellow and a kick, and bounded into the truck. Since one of her horns was broken in a fight with a male, I named her Broken Horn, Midwest SOARRING Foundation’s first bison. (I learned later that bison will regrow a new horn.)

Broken Horn’s destination was the Grand Village of the Kickapoo Nation in LeRoy, Illinois. Bill and Doris Emmett and their daughter Peggy were the owners of the property. Earlier, Midwest SOARRING Foundation had assisted them in saving the Native American historic site. The family welcomed Broken Horn to their land. In appreciation for the preservation of the site, and in honor of its importance to Native American culture, SOARRING sponsored the first Return of the Grand Village of the Kickapoo Nation Pow Wow to their village site. This was a moving and successful event for everyone, as the Kickapoo Nation had not gathered together as a tribal nation for many years.

Joseph and Grand Village of Kickapoo historical plaque

As the years went on, SOARRING acquired additional bison. Several were donated by individuals and four came from Lords Park in Elgin, Illinois–two sisters one year, two brothers the next.  In the spring our herd annually produced calves.  Bill and Doris also started their own herd, which banded and bred with ours, promoting a healthy genetic diversity.  Throughout the seasons, it was gratifying to see the bison prosper in the tall grass and the calves frolic with their mothers.  Sometimes there were several unexpected bison breakouts when the fencing had to be repaired from storm damage.

From the beginning our vision was to care for our herd as a spirit herd–they were not being raised for meat consumption. For thousands of years the bison on Turtle Island provided meat, hides, and tool implements for Native people’s survival.  In honor of all they had given us, I decided that a spirit herd would be a thank you to the Bison Nation. I also hoped to inspire reverence and respect for these noble creatures that once roamed throughout North America, and one day, to return them to the freedom of the open plains to share their strength with others of their kind.

Eventually Bill retired after his wife died and sold both his property and bison. The new owners, Bill and Misty Vermatt, and their son Ricky and daughter Jackie, were eager to assist us in our bison endeavor.  I must acknowledge Bill’s tremendous efforts over fourteen years to provide strong fencing, consistent water, hay and cracked corn to supplement their winter diet, as well as

Farmer Bill gifted blanket from MSF for his care of the bison

burying them when they passed.  Every year a Grand Village Kickapoo Pow Wow was held, complete with a bison viewing wagon ride, when thrilled visitors of all ages were deeply awed seeing real bison up close for the first time in their lives.  My late wife, Janet, always insisted on buying bags of apples so she could throw them to the bison during the bison rides.

This past year Bill and Misty decided to retire and sell their property which challenged us to find a new home for the herd with their eventual return to their ancestral homeland on the open plains.  In June of 2020, our search began in earnest. Dave Nordin, an associate board member and I worked tirelessly on this every day. We made many phone calls and contacts to find a suitable location, with the understanding that the bison would be maintained as a spirit herd. We reached out to many bison people, each with their own goals. Some wanted to take a portion of the herd for breeding purposes, but not the big bulls. In my mind it had to be all or nothing -we would not break up the herd and abandon the bulls to an uncertain fate.

In September 2020, we began to work with Megan Davenport, staff biologist of the Intertribal Buffalo Council (ITBC) in Rapid City, South Dakota, to explore a possible tribal relocation. ITBC is an organization which matches available bison with tribes seeking to promote healthy management and growth of herds under their care by adding greater genetic diversity, helping to ensure that the species will thrive.  After months of research, we found a suitable new home for our herd with the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.  Next, on the recommendation of State Senator Troy Heinert of South Dakota, a multi-talented member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe with experience in the unique logistics of bison relocation, we engaged Matt Noble and his crew, who were experienced large animal movers.

Joseph Standing Bear and Spirit Bison herd relocation to Oklahoma


At the bison pasture in LeRoy, Illinois on December 18, 2020 Matt and his crew installed the necessary corral, chute and squeezer apparatus which would allow the veterinarian we selected, Dr.  Tessa Marshall of the University of Illinois veterinary faculty and a bison expert with her assistant, to visually inspect and tag each animal for interstate transport.  They were then loaded on the two trucks which would carry them to their new home and destiny. The actual loading of the animals took five hours from start to finish. Matt and his crew worked like a well -oiled machine, and no animals or people were hurt.

Veterinarian Dr. Marshall

The first to be loaded was the biggest male and the last was the youngest male calf. This youngster proved to be the hardest to lead into the enclosure as he darted around the pasture and in between the thorn trees and was the last to enter the trailer–echoing the spirit of Broken Horn.  The vet, Dr. Marshall was prepared to use her tranquilizer gun, yet Bill was able to chase the calf into the enclosure. The trucks traveled non- stop to Oklahoma and reached the Cherokee reservation Friday evening, Dec. 18, 2020 at 11:30pm. Now, they reside on 1,000 acres with 150 other bison the Cherokee had recently acquired. This substantial gift from Midwest SOARRING Foundation to the Cherokee Nation completed our twenty-five year vision of returning the bison to the prairie. We very much appreciate Raven Fyreheart‘s photographic expertise documenting our story.

In closing, I humbly ask for your donations to help us pay for the expenses not covered by the ITBC, completing our mission to return the bison to their ancestral range and to preserve and share the record of their story.  We successfully negotiated for the Intertribal Buffalo Council to pay for the trucks, drivers, fuel and veterinarian fee, which left the remaining costs to Midwest SOARRING Foundation to cover. These will include the costs of renting, setting up and taking down of the extensive heavy duty equipment needed to load an entire herd of bison. It will also include the fees for a professional documentary film crew to record the Grand Village of the Kickapoo, the bison, and the loading process and the cost to edit the raw footage into documentary format.  There will be additional costs of creating, attending and recording the ceremony of acknowledgment and appreciation from the Cherokee Nation to Midwest SOARRING Foundation hopefully in the summer, depending on the COVID status.  We would like to raise $20,000. Your donations will cover all costs of the documentary production including editing, our travel expenses, and incidentals –costs not covered by ITBC. You can donate here.

I give thanks to the Creator for this opportunity and bless our bison nation for their continued care and well- being.


Joseph Standing Bear Schranz

January 2, 2021

SOARRING 2021 New Year’s Greeting

I would like to start by wishing Midwest SOARRING Foundation members, friends, and supporters a very happy New Year. I wish each of you a happy and healthy 2021 during these trying times.

We have witnessed in our world and in this country many challenges during this past year including every shortage–from toilet paper to common sense.  I was raised to believe that all life matters–all the winged ones above us, all that swims and floats in the great waters, and all that walks, crawls and burrows upon and within the earth. All life matters—not just one particular color or one type of life.

What I have been witnessing during this time are valuable life lessons. In many cases some have spent extra time with loved ones which have strengthened family values and the family unit. Sadly, others have experienced increased stress which has led to domestic violence, depression, and suicide.  We hope and pray that a positive solution is on the horizon for COVID.

Lake Superior Winter

Lake Superior Winter

We have learned to depend on outside sources without a guaranteed right of supply for ourselves or our family. The situation we find ourselves in presents an opportunity to remember and restore some of our old lifestyles. I am overjoyed to see many returning to basic values, working with the land and with water. Across the country many are planting gardens and learning how to can their own produce. This is one way we can lessen our dependence on technology for our happiness and survival.

In 2021 Midwest SOARRING Foundation will be embarking on many new and fascinating ZOOM programs/events, depending on the course of COVID.  Zoom talks offer us the opportunity to access wisdom from teachers who care deeply for Mother Earth from other parts of the country. Please check our calendar page on our website to register for these programs.

We pray for all of those who have been affected by COVID. We pray for those who have passed on. We pray for their families and loved ones as they recover from their loss.

In reflecting on 2020, it reminds me of the story of a grandfather and his grandson who were walking in the deep woods. They spoke of many things, as they passed both new and old sites along their walk. The young boy had many questions. After a while they both sat down on large rocks to rest. The grandfather noticed the boy was deep in thought.

He asked the boy, “What’s troubling you?”
“Grandfather, there seems to be so much good and evil in the world. “said the boy.
“Yes, there is a struggle in each of us between good and evil,” said the grandfather.
“Well, which one wins?” asked his grandson.
“Whichever one you feed” said his grandfather.

Midwest SOARRING Foundation will be hosting many events and invite you to participate as you are able.  We invite you to join our organization, or if you are already a member, please renew your membership for 2021.

I personally give many thanks to my board members and all those who assist us in our mission.

High regards,

Joseph Standing Bear Schranz

March 26, 2020

Our Personal Responsibility with COVID-19

Midwest SOARRING members, supporters, friends and community,

I am writing this out of my concern for all of us. There may not be one easy answer to dealing with the COVID 19 virus. Certain precautions can be taken as individuals such as keeping a safe distance from others, using sanitary procedures, being mindful of surfaces that include door handles, knobs, gas pumps and shopping carts. Stay at home and don’t infect others.

Use face masks and respirator half masks if needed. Use common sense. Follow the recommended store limits on purchasing necessary items. Look in on your elderly neighbor or single parent who may be struggling, someone who is disabled, alone, or recovering from an illness. Stay clear if you are ill yourself. Have good respect for others. Never forget our spiritual core. We often forget gratitude, respect, love and genuine concern for the main commitment of life, our Mother Earth.

We are destroying the Earth by our sheer numbers and overpowering the natural resources the Creator gifted us with. We must pay major attention towards all our disrespectful actions and how this affects all other life forms or suffer the consequences.

I am asking all pipe carriers and people of different beliefs and faiths to unite on Sunday, March 29, 2020 at Noon, Eastern Daylight Time to share a global prayer from the heart. Wherever we happen to be at the moment, let us each pray in our own manner for one hour. Now it is time for a global shift and a time for action. We must protect the Red Bloods and the Green Bloods from further destruction and begin a healing towards all.

Joseph Standing Bear Schranz
President, Midwest SOARRING Foundation

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Aanii Boozhoo

Midwest SOARRING Foundation invites all people to gather into an ever-increasing wider circle that preserves Mother Earth, and the rich traditions of the ancestors. We invite you to learn about the many intertribal Native American lifeways that provide wisdom and direction in our contemporary world. In keeping with this path, Midwest SOARRING Foundation works to maintain the traditions of the ancestors and to conserve and restore to health the natural environment.

We invite you to join our circle. Dance at our pow wows. Attend our cultural events and support the bison herd-our nation's greatest herbivore and symbol of hope and survival for all people. As you listen, you will learn. Together we become the Spirit of the ancestors.

Joseph Standing Bear Schranz

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