The city and people of Tomah, WI, and the Ho-Chunk Nation have benefited from Priscilla Cleveland’s dedication to students, education, and community.
From Tomah, Cleveland began serving her community in the early 1980s as a teacher’s aide in a local Ho-Chunk Nation Head Start program. In 1989, she began supporting students and teachers as the Title VII Indian Education Coordinator-Teacher for the Tomah Area School District. She held this position for 28 years. In this role, Cleveland collaborated with schools to provide instruction on the history, culture, and tribal sovereignty of the First Nations of Wisconsin.
In 1997, Cleveland began teaching sixth grade in the school district. She next taught seventh and then eighth grade Native American history in the Ho-Chunk language starting in 2001. To help all teachers in the Tomah Area School District integrate American Indian Studies into their instruction, Cleveland served on the Tomah Area School District Social Studies Curriculum Writing Team. She was also a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation Education Board of Directors Area II, ensuring the needs of Ho-Chunk students in the district were being met.
Cleveland’s depth of understanding for supporting Native American students and her instruction of Native American history and Ho-Chunk language culminated in her service on a planning committee for one of the nine School Environment Listening Sessions that informed the final report of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education.
She also traveled to Washington, D.C., as part of the Ho-Chunk Nation delegation of representatives and relatives of Ho-Chunk Code Talkers when the Nation received a Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor the U.S. Congress can bestow.
Now retired, Cleveland was a regular presenter at conferences such as Widening the Circle Native American and the Hmong Indigenous Education Conference, sharing her experiences and efforts as related to Wisconsin Act 31.