Green Tea Conversations
Reduce the Carbon Footprint and Clean Energy Production with Wayne Dupuis
September 20, 2020
Meet Wayne Dupuis, the environmental program manager at Resource Management for the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Dupuis discusses tribal organzination and how it helps different communities within the Fond du Lac reservation. He talks about their involvement in environmental impact statements for the mines and undertaking a holistic approach for the tribe. Dupuis also talks about the programs that are implemented in environmental resource management. To learn more, visit

Reduce Carbon Footprint and Clean Energy Production with Wayne Dupuis

[00:00:11.670] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Good morning and welcome to Green Tea Conversations, the radio show that delves into the pages of Natural Awakenings magazine to bring you the local experts who share their progressive ideas and the latest information and insights needed so you can lead your best life. I'm your host Candi Broeffle, publisher of the Twin Cities edition of Natural Awakenings magazine, and I am honored to bring these experts to you. Today on our show, we are visiting with Wayne Dupuis, the environmental program manager at resource management for the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. I worked with Wayne in several capacities while I was employed at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, and I have always been impressed with the vision he has to manage the resources of not only the tribe but the community at large. Work being done out of resource management is nothing short of amazing. They are always on the forefront of what is happening in resource management, energy production and more. It has been on my mind from when I first started hosting this program to have Wayne as a guest and to let our audience know about some of the great work that the tribe is doing. And today is the day we get to hear all about it. So, Wayne, why don't you take a few minutes and tell everyone a bit about the tribe, including where it's located and some of the different industries that are at Fond du Lac?

[00:01:30.090] - Wayne Dupuis, Guest
Sure. Fond du Lac Reservation takes on the French word for our original name, place name, which was Nagati, went on the place where the water slows. And that was near at the end of the Togami River. That's called now the St. Louis River. And it's the largest estuary in the western part of Lake Superior. So, that was our original homeland in Mogadishu, Anom Alcalde Fond du Lac as the western part of Duluth. In 1854, the Fond du Lac band Nikkatsu, Wandong, we were called to get Yagami underneath, the Lake Superior people. Signed a treaty with the United States government and seeded the northeast section of Minnesota to the United States in that treaty. And we ended up 20 miles west of our original homeland down there in the estuary on the Fond du Lac Reservation, which now consists of about one hundred thousand acres and that is probably 43 percent wetland. So, we have currently there's four thousand two hundred enrolled members of the Fond du Lac band, probably half of those enrolled members live within the reservation boundaries. The other half lives throughout the world, you know, we work from Germany and Africa and so on. So, we the folks that are living here have the responsibility of taking care of our Ojibway. They call it (3:24), it's called the leftovers, but we call it home as well. So, we have the responsibility of taking care of all of this land that's left for us. And this is our permanent homeland. On the Fond du Lac reservation, we have everything that, it's kind of a microcosm of government, we have housing, we have health and human services, we have education, and we probably employ two thousand people with the band and all of those various components of carrying out our responsibility to our to our current citizens and then to the future people of this tribal governments.
[00:04:15.500] - Candi Broeffle, Host
There are several different communities within Fond du Lac, correct?
[00:04:19.640] - Wayne Dupuis, Guest
Yes, there's like three districts, so there's the (4:25) district and that's probably the largest demographic, I mean, population-wise. Then there's the Broxton district, It probably is the largest geographically. And I live in the Sawyer district. And that's probably the smallest. That's the smallest, population-wise and and geographically as well.
[00:04:51.200] - Candi Broeffle, Host
There's also a very large health clinic as well.
[00:04:54.650] - Wayne Dupuis, Guest
We have a Health and Human Services division that probably employs close to 500 people, that's doctors, nurses, social workers, mental health providers, everything that a human services department would provide. And I think we have probably one of the best health clinics in the region. 
[00:05:22.640] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Yes. Yes, I would agree with that. And that's something that I would love to have somebody come in and talk with us about as well, because it's very progressive in the preventative side of health and taking a look at more holistic approaches as well. But of course, that's really not your forte. You are the program manager with the environmental program.
[00:05:43.520] - Wayne Dupuis, Guest
Right? Although I have been, I have worked at our Health and Human Services as a social worker as well. So, I, that was many years ago. As the environmental program manager, we are involved in environmental impact statements for the mines that are within our Seeta territory because we retain use of property rights to all of that northeastern Minnesota and we have the right to hunt fish and gather and co-manage those what is termed resources. But we term as our relatives in those seated territories. So, usually, what we do and we you know, if we're formally introducing ourselves, we will say, you know, I need an additional Bedau hello, my fellow human being, Minoa, and then Binnaway McGonagle all of my relatives actually is what it's saying, and make sure that we acknowledge all of those things that fly, all of those things that swim, that walk, crawl and so on, because they are our relatives. And that's the that's the philosophy we take when we're asked to, quote, co-manage those resources or relatives. And I guess philosophically as well, man, or human beings are the last in the order of creation as we know it. So, all of those things are our elders and have things to teach us. And so, if we are responsible for co-managing, we have to do it with that kind of humility in our thoughts and in actions and taking whatever measures are asked to say, manage those relationships or resources.
[00:07:53.470] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Right. So, you're not just looking at the relationship of what's happening right now and what's happening for the tribe right now. But you're looking at it from a very global perspective, from a complete holistic approach.
[00:08:06.280] - Wayne Dupuis, Guest
That's our; that's what we're born to do. Exactly.
[00:08:12.340] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Well, why don't you tell us a little bit about some of the programs that you have at environmental resources for resource management?
[00:08:22.210] - Wayne Dupuis, Guest
In resource management we have fisheries, we have two biologists that work with actually the wildlife. And we have a fisheries biologist as well that work with many of the state DNR people and planning and what they call co-managing those relatives or resources. We've been very active in all aspects of that. We are also looking at reintroducing the elk to our territory somewhere in the region and working with not only the state DNR, but also the I think it's the elk. I can't recall the name, but they're the ones that were a group of people that helped introduce elk throughout the country. At one time, one time this region was full of elk. And, yeah, we were hoping to do that.
[00:09:22.780] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Well, we need to go into a break right now. But when we come back, we're going to continue talking with Wayne and learning more about the programs at the tribe. For people who want to learn more about what's happening at Fond du Lac Resource Management, visit that's You can read the online version of Natural Awakenings magazine at We will be right back.
[00:11:16.190] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Welcome back to Green Tea Conversations, where we delve into the pages of Natural Awakenings magazine and talk to the professionals who share their expertise and natural health with you. I'm your host, Candi Broeffle, and we are welcoming today Wayne Dupuis, the environmental program manager at resource management for the Fond du Lac band of Lake Superior Chippewa. So, before the break, we were starting to tell us about some of the different programs that are at resource management. What are some of the other programs that you have? I know there are actually quite a few.
[00:11:48.140] - Wayne Dupuis, Guest
We do have quite a few here. We have a program called Thirteen Moons and that looks at all of the various activities that happen throughout the year and kind of encourages our community members to participate in and cultural activities that happened in that particular season or that month. So, each of the moons are named after what is actually happening, happening in Ojibwe. You know, we have April, May, June. But in our language it is April is the month of boiling the sap and May is the month where the leaves come out and June is the month where the strawberries ripen. So, you know, and so in the spring it's, September is the rice making moon and October is the leaf falling moon and so on. And Thirteen Moons identifies things that are associated with each of those months. And we encourage people in the community and in the area actually to come and participate and keep their connection with those things that bring specialness to their lives. So, that's the Thirteen Moons program. And we also have a land information office. We record all of the land within the reservation boundaries, kind of keep the history of ownership just like recorders at the county or state level. And they participate with their land use committee, who kind of reviews every permit that comes through the reservation to allow certain activities within the reservation as well, and kind of keep track of our resources and make sure that they're not being impacted in a negative way. Then we have the Natural Resources Program, which works with both the fisheries and the wildlife and in maybe tagging animals. But they also do work restocking fish, the sturgeon. We have one program where we restock the St. Lucie River and that's been going on for many years. And when they put up the dam there at Thompson, that restricted the migration of the sturgeon up the St. Louis River. But we've entered into agreements with tribes in Michigan and have taken the fingerlings from Michigan and replanted them up here in the St. Lucie River. And they're and a surge and it takes some 19 years before their breeding age. And now they're breeding age and we're getting repopulation up here in the upper St. Louis or Togami Zeb. That's the way we say it Togami Zeb,  The Great Lake River. And the populations seem to be doing very well with the sturgeon. Sturgeon is the May in our language.
[00:14:57.320] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Yeah, it wasn't aware of that program, so that's pretty cool. You also have forest management. Correct?
[00:15:04.580] - Wayne Dupuis, Guest
And we have forest management like I was saying, 40 percent, 43 percent percent of our land is wetland, but wetland in our language is we call it mashkiki or medicine, the strong earth. And that's where many of our medicines are found, is in the swamps and wetlands and so on. So, we have to take measures to make sure that that stays healthy and continues to produce the kind of things that we need to keep ourselves healthy and our environment healthy. The wetland is also like the kidney of the Earth, and we need to make sure that that doesn't get bound up or polluted. And our forestry or our forestry people kind of take an inventory of all the land that we have. And we're also looking at how we sequester carbon as well. And so they take measurements in regard to that and. And, you know, that's another way of assuring ourselves that we have clean air when we have good, healthy forests. So, we make sure that our land use and everything else, make sure that we don't diminish that, that we make sure that we sustain that and keep it healthy and that keeps us healthy.
[00:16:37.740] - Candi Broeffle, Host
It really is responsible harvesting and replanting that is happening. So, you work for the environmental program and you guys are doing some really amazing work as well.
[00:16:48.870] - Wayne Dupuis, Guest
Yeah, we have probably 14 people in the environmental department and there many of them are, you know, in the top of their field, well respected, their opinions and are well respected. We have some of the best folks involved in helping to plan and make sure that our whole region is safe and secure from, you know, many of the things that affect it. And if there are projects that are coming into our region, we make sure that they are done in a good way and don't detract from the health of our streams and rivers or wetlands or forests. And it's an advantage to all of the people of this region for us to be involved in there, because like I say, that's insurance, that those things are well taken care of. So, we've been cooperating agency and the EIS, for the parliament mine, for the twin metals mine and we hold those corporations to the line, make sure that Minnesota prides itself on having good environmental stewardship. But we bring another layer of assurance that that's going to happen. And yeah, its...
[00:18:19.340] - Candi Broeffle, Host
 There is a lot going on with that right now.
[00:18:23.680] - Wayne Dupuis, Guest
Yes, there is a lot going on with that and, you know, that brings lots of jobs, but we also have to make sure that we can sustain these forests and wetlands and our water, we have 10 percent of the world's fresh water, and we have to make sure that all the actions that are taking place within our seated territories will contribute to the health and security of that water resource. Water is like they say, water is life. And we need that.
[00:19:03.330] - Candi Broeffle, Host
We need to go into a break now. But when we come back, we're going to continue talking with Wayne about the different projects that are happening at Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior, Chippewa. To learn more about what's happening at resource management, visit that's To read the online version of Natural Awakenings magazine, visit You can find a podcast of this show on and on Apple and Google podcast. You're listening to Green Tea Conversation on AM950, the Progressive Voice of Minnesota, and we will be right back.
[00:21:20.850] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Welcome back to Green Tea Conversations, that's a radio show that delves into the pages of Natural Awakenings magazine and talks to the professionals who share their expertise on natural health with you. I'm your host, Candi Broeffle. And today we're talking with Wayne Dupuis, the environmental program manager at resource management for the Fond du Lac band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Before the break, you were telling us about some of the different programs, the different industries that are at the tribe. And now I want to more specifically talk about the environmental program about 10 years ago, Fond du lac built a new building for resource management. And it was actually a starship in Karlton County because it was the first LEED-certified building.
[00:22:03.570] - Wayne Dupuis, Guest
The resource management division has about 60 full-time employees. And we were all crammed into probably a 2000 square foot building. You know, there were three people to a 10 by 10 office space and there was a need for a new building. And we, I think at the time we put together a capital development plan and got enough funding to build a 20 thousand square foot building and during the planning stages, we thought, well, we need to be true to our mission. And so we wanted to make sure that it met energy conservation measures. And we strive to have the LEED certification for the building. So, we put in natural light systems of the sun shining during the day would be that light and many of the good prisms and so on in our hallways that come directly from the sun. And we put, I think it's 12.5 kilowatts of solar photovoltaic energy on our roof. And we made attempts to make sure that much of the material that was used for the building was local. So, we reached our goal of having the first LEED building in Carleton County. And now we have a twenty thousand square foot building and we still don't have enough space. But, you know how that goes.
[00:23:44.730] - Candi Broeffle, Host
 That's always the case, isn't it? The other thing I wanted to get into is the fact that Fond du Lac has been a part of the Kyoto Protocol.
[00:23:52.920] - Wayne Dupuis, Guest
Well, you know, the mission of Fond du Lac is to make sure that we're sustainable and we take measures to assure that not only what we do today, but what happens in the future will strive to maintain that sustainability. And as you know, the earth is kind of in a crisis right now as a result of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and we need to take measures to do that. And the Kyoto accord was probably established in the early 2000s and that was to reduce our carbon footprint by 20 percent by the year 2020. Well, it's been about 20 years since the Kyoto Protocol was put into effect. And we convinced the reservation business committee, the tribal government, to sign on to that. So, the philosophy of the Kyoto Protocol and we passed a resolution saying that we would reduce our carbon footprint by 20 percent by 2020. And we've made efforts to do that. And the LEED  building is one of those efforts. But we've also looked at energy consumption and every one of the buildings that we have. So, we have probably half a million square feet of buildings throughout the reservation. And that includes our casinos, which is the Blackbird Casino is probably eighty thousand plus square feet, Fond du Lac casinos, maybe 30000 square feet.
Our Health and Human Services is another 80000 square feet. And we have community centers in each of our districts. And we have a school, a large K through 12 school, and other buildings that are are within the reservation. So, we did energy audits on all of the buildings to make sure that they were operating as efficient as they could. And we probably reduced our carbon footprint by I believe we're probably at 45 to 50 percent reduction in the carbon footprint from the day that we signed that to today. And we hope to be one hundred percent in the very near future by identifying woodlands or forestry forest types that contribute to carbon sequestration and putting that in kind of on hold, never, allowing any kind of development to diminish that, so that it continues to put out carbon, that our whole carbon dioxide, it will sequester carbon in the...
[00:26:49.530] - Candi Broeffle, Host
 And by using those carbon offsets, you believe you can reach that 100 percent goal?
[00:26:55.030] - Wayne Dupuis, Guest
Right. And that should happen, like I say, within the next couple of years.

[00:26:59.640] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Wow. So, you really have far surpassed the goal of reaching 20 percent by 2020 since you've already reached almost 50 percent.
[00:27:07.600] - Wayne Dupuis, Guest
And we feel good about that. It's something that we have to always be paying attention to and striving for and make sure that we communicate that to the people in our communities as well so that they do the same thing.

[00:27:25.270] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Now, you were saying not only is it reducing the carbon footprint, but there was a huge cost saving to the work that you did with energy audits and making the changes that needed to be made. What were some of those changes that you made to the buildings?
[00:27:40.330] - Wayne Dupuis, Guest
Many of them had to do with you know, we had lighting. We looked at our water fixtures, we looked at our sanitation facilities. We also looked at all of the rooftop air handling facilities and we made great reductions there. I think we've saved I think it's like fifteen thousand tons of carbon dioxide in our reductions. And we also, that turned out to be about sixty-four thousand dollars a month in electric bills and we're climbing. So, we've reduced our electric consumption or our energy consumption by three-quarters of a million dollars, and in probably three years that we took that project on. And like I say, it's a dollar reduction, but it also is a 15000-ton reduction in carbon dioxide. And, you know, that's good for all of our relations.
[00:28:46.140] - Candi Broeffle, Host
So, when we were preparing for this interview, you shared that you were exploring the idea of purchasing energy from other sources and perhaps the possibility of having your own energy company.
[00:28:56.760] - Wayne Dupuis, Guest
We're looking into establishing a tribal utility here at Fond du Lac. That gives us some energy sovereignty as well. We can say we choose not to use coal-fired energy to produce electricity for our homes or our businesses. And if we tap into, say, the transmission lines and become our own utility, we can have power purchase agreements with various providers, generators of electricity, and make sure that that's assigned to our use, and that's the way we can do that, and that promotes a good use of energy in sustainable ways.
[00:29:51.600] - Candi Broeffle, Host
 So, one of the things that I've always been so impressed with is Fond du Lac has really been on the forefront of looking at photovoltaics as being a viable option for producing energy and reducing a carbon footprint.
[00:30:03.990] - Wayne Dupuis, Guest
As I mentioned, we put probably twelve and a half kilowatts of photovoltaic on the roof of our resource management building. We also in the early 2000s put three and a half kilowatts on one of our power grounds, and that provides electricity there over by the Ojibway school. And then probably in 2014, we had the opportunity to put a megawatt of solar PV over near the Blackbird Casino and Hotel. And that's been in operation and functional for, I think about three years now. And that reduces the energy over there probably by 10 percent. It like I say, it's one megawatt, which is equivalent to providing electricity to, say, about two hundred homes. And that's been working very well for us.
[00:31:03.340] - Candi Broeffle, Host
So, moving forward in the future, do you have any plans to expand, unfoiled (31:07)?

[00:31:09.130] - Wayne Dupuis, Guest
You know, there's always that possibility. We're looking, we're doing assessments in all of our communities to see where it's likely that we could see a maybe a 40-kilowatt system in. And that would go to offset some of the community members' electricity bills. And we have some likely spots in all of our communities. So, yeah, we're Pro PV on fond du Lac Reservation. In addition to the solar PV, we're also looking at biomass as a heating source that keeps the energy dollars in our local region as well. And it gives us an opportunity to harvest some of the forest byproducts that probably need to be harvested when they've reached their maturity, that it's time to to use it. And we can ship that up. And we have one million BTU boilers out in our Sawyer community center. And that's used to offset probably thirty thousand gallons of propane a year to heat our community center out there and Sawyer. And we're looking to do the same kind of thing out in our Brookstone and then provide that as a residential heat source as well.
[00:32:31.390] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Well, Wayne, when we come back, I want to continue our conversation. But for people who want to learn more about what Fond du Lac resource management is up to visit their website at, thats' To read the online version of Natural Awakenings magazine visit You can find a podcast of this show on, on Apple and Google Podcasts, and anywhere you get your podcasts. You're listening to Green Tea Conversations on AM950, the Progressive Voice of Minnesota and we will be right back.
[00:34:49.310] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Welcome back to Green Tea Conversations where we delve into the pages of Natural Awakenings magazine and talk to the professionals who share their expertise on natural health with you. I'm your host, Candi Broeffle. And today we're talking with Wayne Dupuis, the environmental program manager at resource management for the Fond du Lac band of Lake Superior Chippewa. So, Wayne, before the break, you were starting to get into the different programs at Fond du Lac. And one of the areas that is really important to look at is forest management.
[00:35:19.670] - Wayne Dupuis, Guest
Like I say, the forest assures us of our oxygen. The trees turn carbon dioxide into oxygen and in order for us to be sustainable, we need to make sure that we have healthy forests and I think that our forestry doesn't look at forest as an extractive resource like timber. It doesn't they don't kind of measured by board feet. They measure it by probably more by carbon sequestration than board feet. Of course, you always have to look at the utilitarian value of things. But I think we have a symbiotic relationship with our forests and we need to make sure that we take care of them like they take care of us. And that's the approach that our forestry takes in regard to the forest within the Fond du Lac reservation and tries to assert that in the forest, in our ceded territories as well.
[00:36:24.710] - Candi Broeffle, Host
I know another area you are really focused on is food sovereignty. Tell us about some of the work you're doing around this.
[00:36:32.150] - Wayne Dupuis, Guest
Well, I think the pandemic has kind of brought this right to the heart of the matter here on Fond du Lac. And this year, last year as well, we recently purchased probably 40 some acres up in the Sawyer district. That farmland, a former farm. And we've divided that up to about 20 different people from Fond du Lac that had an interest in starting farming. And we each got, say, a quarter acre of land, which is plenty of land to grow enough food for a family. And, you know, we had a choice about what kind of seeds we want to plant and what kind of vegetables and so on that we wanted to harvest. And one of the objectives of this program was to develop like a business plan as well so that you could maybe sell your products if you wish to do that, or most of us kind of give it or trade it back and forth. So, the money object wasn't too, didn't go over too well. But we're learning how t plant. I've been doing this for most of my life, but I also participated and there's probably, like I say, 20 different plots out there. And that's part of our Thirteen Moons project. And I think we've got the support of the tribal government as well to do that. We're going to put in a huge, not a root seller, but a food center on the farm and put in a greenhouse as well so that we can grow things in the spring and...
[00:38:23.180] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Later into the fall.
[00:38:25.310] - Wayne Dupuis, Guest
And become responsible for producing our food locally. And the more we learn, the more we're capable of doing that. So, it's been a pretty fruitful endeavor for many people here on the Fond du Lac reservation. We just went over and harvested rutabagas the other night, which, you know, I like rutabagas in our soups and so on.
[00:38:50.720] - Candi Broeffle, Host
And yes, you have to have those rutabagas. It's really interesting because you get people who are learning how to grow their own food, how to harvest it, and how to put it up for winter. Are you looking at canning and freezing as well?
[00:39:06.650] - Wayne Dupuis, Guest
And those are the kind of things that happened through our Thirteen Moons program as well. You know, we have presentations on that. We've employed John Fisher Merritt is an elderly person that lives in our region and is probably one of the first people that started community-supported agriculture here. And he's very successful and very wise in regard to how you plant and harvest and sustain the seeds to for the next year as well. And he comes in on a weekly basis and shares his expertise and wisdom with the people that are learning to farm on our farm out there.
[00:39:48.180] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Mr. Fisher Merritt has been around, has been doing CSAs really since I was a kid. So he has a wealth of knowledge. I know. One of the topics that's really important to you that I want to get into before the end of the show is to really talk about water protection and protecting our wildlife.
[00:40:06.290] - Wayne Dupuis, Guest
And, you know, Mahnomen. You can't see wild rice. We say Mahnomen, and that means the good berry. It was in our prophecies that we would live in the place where the food grew on the water and that's the Mahnomen. And so, it's very special to us. And we take great effort in making sure that it grows and we take great effort and have great gratitude for obtaining that in this time of the year and this year happens to be a great year for Mahnomen, there's rice and all the lakes and we're very happy for that. Mahnomen is like the canary is to the coal mines. If you don't, if the Mahnomen hasn't grown or cannot grow in your waters, that means that there's something wrong with your water. Even though it's cyclical, But there are places that 90 percent of the waterways and in the United States are diminished from Mahnomen as a result of our relationship with our water. It isn't fit to grow the Mahnomen that grew at one time. And that's why we need to pay attention to how it grows and take efforts to make sure that it does.
[00:41:27.360] - Candi Broeffle, Host
And it hasn't always been the case, even at Fond du Lac Reservation there have been times when Mahnomen was not growing like it is now, and you guys have really given a lot of effort to bringing it back.
[00:41:38.910] - Wayne Dupuis, Guest
Yeah, yeah. You know, the final reservation, one of the reasons it was, the area was chosen, actually, our chief went to Washington in the early 1860s, because the surveyors were going not including the lakes, it had the Mahnomen in it. So, they went there and they said, hey, hey, you're wrong. This isn't what we agreed to. So, they chopped off probably thirty thousand acres on the western side of our reservation and included maybe 10000 acres on the southern end to include the wild rice lakes. That's so important. It was for us to have that be part of our ways of sustaining ourselves. And Mahnomen is part of every social function that we have as well. So, it's very important that we make sure that we take efforts to protect the Mahnomen and in protecting the Mahnomen we're also protecting the waters that give us life.
[00:42:43.470] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Well, Wayne, I just really thank you so much for being with us today. It's been a real pleasure talking to you. And thank you for joining our conversation as we awaken to natural health. You've been listening to Green Tea Conversations on AM950, the Progressive Voice of Minnesota and I am wishing for you a lovely day!