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Northwoods NiiJii Enterprise Community

Lead Entity
: Northwoods NiiJii Enterprise Community
Note: Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, Sokaogon Mole Lake Chippewa Community and Lac du Flambeau Chippewa Community are also part of the lead management team. 

State: Wisconsin
Counties (Census Tracts): Menominee (9701), Forest (9504), Vilas (9509)
Community Population: 6,188
Poverty Rate: 47%
Net Land Area: 502.8 square miles


Community Overview 

The Northwoods NiiJii Empowerment Zone consists of three Indian Reservations and three non-Indian developable sites. All three Reservations are located in the rugged northern forests of Wisconsin. The developable sites are located in Shawano County bordering the Menominee Reservation, the Town of Nashville bordering the Mole Lake Reservation and Vilas County bordering the Lac du Flambeau Reservation. High unemployment, large families, critically substandard housing, crime, alcohol abuse, and dependence on welfare are some of the poverty-related problems that have confronted the Tribe. The strategic planning process created new partnerships between the tribes and local non-tribal governments and organizations. The Menominee Reservation contains the oldest sustainable forest in the world. The President’s Council on Sustainable Development, the United Nations and several other Nation Governments have acknowledged the Tribe as a leader in science of sustainable development. 

Strategic Plan Highlights With the implementation of the strategic plan, the community strives to balance economic and community development.


Partnerships include 3 tribal governments and 3 non-Indian partners, local colleges, non-profits and other organizations at the local level to capitalize on existing resources and expertise thereby reducing administrative costs.  Through 2005, the EC built 843 new partnerships to implement projects.  The projects resulting from the NNEC strategic plan, served 4,823 adults, 674 youth and 5,367 families.  1,000 community volunteers were engaged through AmeriCorps VISTA.


From 1998 to 2005, the EC acquired $6.4 million in grant funding and provided $900,000 in seed funding to projects for feasibility studies, project design, startup, and matching funding.  The EC assisted in the leveraging of seed funding to acquire $70 million in project funding and $7.5 million in in-kind project assistance for a leveraging ratio of 85:1.

  Community Involvement 

Good regional links-strategic plans included from all counties, villages, townships, and cities near the reservations. Also includes Indian and non-Indian participants, including Indian and non-Indian participants. Community planning process is very inclusive. A wide variety and number of community meetings are held on different reservations by each of the tribes. Various techniques such as focus groups, affinity groups, nominative group processes, and door to door surveys were also used in the initial development of the strategic plan.



Patricia O'Neil


Northwoods NiiJii EC

602 Peace Pipe Rd.
P.O. Box 786


Lac du Flambeau, WI 54538


(715) 599-9325


(715) 588-9408



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