Joseph Martin Rose

Joseph Martin Rose –Moka’ang Giizis-Rising Sun—began his spiritual journey to the land of

everlasting happiness on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A member of the Three Fires Midewiwin,

Grand Medicine Lodge, “Joe Sr.” was a teacher, culture keeper, pipe carrier and treasure to his


Throughout his life, Rising Sun was a shining beacon for environmental justice. He was known

to fight for what he believed in and for what was right. As an environmental rights activist, he

traveled great distances to speak in opposition to any potential environmental threat to air or

water quality that would negatively affect the waters of Lake Superior, the Kakagon/Bad River

Watershed, or Mashkiiziibii - the Bad River Reservation.

Joe was born to his earthly life on April 24, 1935 to Carl Rose Sr. and Mary “Dolly” (Jackson)

Rose in Oklahoma. When his father volunteered to repair naval ships in Alaska during the

second world war, Dolly moved her family back to Bad River. “It was a time of kerosene lamps,

outhouses, and wood heat,” Joe liked to tell people. He grew particularly close to his grandfather,

Dan Jackson, whom he credited with teaching him about plants and medicines and instilling in

him a deep respect and strong appreciation for the natural world. It was an appreciation he would

pass on to thousands of young people over the course of his life.

Joe attended DePadua High School in Ashland, where he played nose tackle on the football

team, wrestled, and sang in the school choir. His athleticism earned him a scholarship to

Northland College, where he played football his freshman year. He majored in biology and

secondary education and stayed a fifth year at Northland in order to pick up a certification to

teach high school science and math.

After graduation, he spent the next 10 years teaching in South Dakota at schools in New

Underwood and Piedmont, and in Gillette, Wyoming, while coaching football, basketball, and

wrestling. With the help of his parents, he raised two children as a single parent, taught full-time,

and earned a master’s degree in Guidance Counseling from Black Hills State University in

Spearfish, South Dakota.

His indomitable spirit brought him back to Bad River in 1970, where he became homeschool

coordinator and guidance counselor at Ashland High School. As an advocate for Bad River

children, he taught them Native American arts and crafts and offered courses about culture. That

experience prepared him for his next job, developing a Native American Studies Program for

Northland College. As its inaugural director, he created a culture-based curriculum that

emphasized the connection Ojibwe people have with Lake Superior and environmental

stewardship. His experiential learning courses were memorable for the birch bark canoes,

ceremonial lodges, and a round house his students created. Those courses inspired the

Traditional Ways Gathering, an annual summer event he helped create that celebrated

flintknapping, basket making, beading, and other skills central to Ojibwe lifeways. He formed a

relationship with the Northern Great Lakes Visitor’s Center in Ashland and curated its exhibits

on Lake Superior tribal history and culture. He was a willing participant in the annual Bad River

Tribal Youth Media workshops, conducting nearly two dozen interviews and never turning down

an opportunity to share his knowledge with young people.

From 1988-1990, Joe and others from the six Lake Superior Ojibwe bands defended Ojibwe

treaty rights by actively exercising their right to spearfish in the lakes of the ceded territory. In

1992, He fought against a proposed large-scale garbage incinerator in Ashland and against a

proposed oil and gas test well in Bayfield County. He was one of the strongest voices in the fight

against the proposed Gogebic Taconite mine and a leading opponent in the efforts to get

Enbridge Line 5 decommissioned. He worked within the tribe, as a representative of Bad River

to the Voigt Task Force, as an Ashland County Board member, and as a spokesperson for the

Wisconsin Greens and the Chequamegon Alliance for Sustainability. He was a true son and

lifelong protector of Gitchi Gami.

Joe leaves behind his daughter, Mary Jo Rose, and son, Joe Dan (Jackie) Rose; five

grandchildren: Peter John Halfaday, Francine Halfaday, Cory Tutor, Brandon Tutor and Jackson

Rose; his brother, Carl Rose Jr; and nine great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and many

friends, all of whom he referred to as “a close, good friend of mine.”

Joe leaves a legacy of environmental justice. His willingness to educate younger members of the

tribe about their obligations as stewards of the land created a blueprint for defending Bad River’s

way of life and ensuring that the community will survive and thrive.

A walk-through visitation will be held at the Bad River Community Center on Friday, February

26, 2021, beginning at 6 pm. The family respectfully requests all visitors to exercise all covid

related precautions, which includes the wearing of face masks and observation of safe social

distancing during the visitation. Private family services and interment will be on Saturday,

February 27, 2021. When pandemic restrictions lift, a public celebration of Joe’s life will be held

later this year.

To plant a tree in memory of Joseph Rose as a living tribute, please visit Tribute Store.

(Copyright © 2021 APG Media)

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