Teaching Drum Outdoor School

Three Lakes, Wisconsin, United States

  • Last updated: January 17, 2019 (1 second ago)
  • Listing created on: December 31, 1999

Mission Statement

Native-Earth balanced lifeway

Community Description

We are a community dedicated to preserving and sharing the skills and ways of our tribal ancestors, honoring the Old Ways of clan living in balance with our relations. We use the vital tools of truth-speaking, pattern-breaking, awareness and attunement exercises, threaded through with the basics like honor, respect. The talking circle is our forum. The wild herbs are our healers. The Earth is our Mother. All the creatures of the land are our guides.

Our primitive camp, Nishnajida–a cluster of bark-and-thatch wigwams–lies five miles from our office center. There, we guide the yearlong Wilderness Guide Program where students from all over the world come to make their clothing from skins; fish and forage for food; make craft items like bows, bowls, spoons, baskets; learn how to track, how to build, inhabit, and maintain lodges. Most of all, students learn about themselves and how to genuinely live as a clan. Everyone in our community is involved with the maintenance of this program, as well as with our own personal projects, passions, and growth.

A second primitive camp, Mashkodens, is our living-learning center where experienced staff members live and Wilderness Guide Program graduates come for extended internships in native lifeway. Mashkodens serves as a doorway where people from all over can come to experience the Old Way as it is actually lived in our contemporary context, for one to three months at a time.

Walking in the footsteps of the natives who were here before us, our programs are semi-nomadic, with winter and summer lodges at our primitive camps and temporary seasonal camps for activities such as fishing, wild ricing, and leek-gathering at various locations. Those at our support/office/administrative center join in these seasonal activities as well.

At the support center we live in wood-stove heated cabins, use electricity, computers, cars, and telephones, but our approach is to live as simply and closely to the Earth Mother as possible. Many of us do not use indoor toilets, and we have limited bathing facilities, but we do have running water in a couple of our homes. We purchase local organic food, scavenge and fish for our wild meat, and forage for some of our summer fruits and greens, and nuts.

Information about open positions, volunteer opportunities, internships, classes, and the Wilderness Guide Program are available from our website.

We are a pet-free, alcohol/tobacco/drug-free community.


  • Type(s): Shared Housing, Cohouseholding, or Coliving (multiple individuals sharing a dwelling), Unspecified, or Other
  • Programs & Activities: School, Educational Institute or Experience, Volunteer, Internship, or Apprenticeship, Wilderness Immersion Programs
  • Location: Rural


  • Status: We have land we have developed on
  • Area: 120 acres
  • Current Residence Types: Multi-family homes, Room(s) in a house or building, Tiny house, Yurt, tee-pee, dome, treehouse, or tent, Natural built structues
  • Current Number of Residences: 6
  • Planned number of residences: 6
  • Planned Residence Types: Multi-family homes, Room(s) in a house or building, Tiny house, Yurt, tee-pee, dome, treehouse, or tent, Natural built structues
  • Housing Provided: Work-exchange
  • Land owned by: Another form of Non-profit
  • Additional Comments:

    We have several buildings with personal bedrooms and shared communal spaces, and are expanding.


  • Adult Members: 15
  • Child Members: 4
  • Non-member Residents: 0
  • Percent Women: 41-49%
  • Percent Men: 51-60%
  • Percent Transgender: 1-10%
  • Visitors accepted: Yes
  • Visitor Process:

    Please write us at [email protected], or give us a call preferably well in advance of your intended visit. We like to open a dialogue with potential visitors before they arrive. A half-day tour of our community and primitive camps is available, by advanced reservation.

  • Open to new Members: Yes
  • Membership Process:

    Ask for an application with [email protected]

    We also welcome families.

  • Additional Comments:

    Old Ways, Reconnecting to the Self, Each Other, and the Earth


  • Decision Making: Consensus (everyone agrees)
  • Identified Leader: No
  • Leadership Core Group: Yes
  • Additional Comments:

    Informal leadership via elders and long term members

    consensus via the talking circle


  • Dues, Fees, or Shared Expenses: No
  • Shared Income: None
  • Required Labor Contribution per Week: 0
  • Additional Comments:

    Including group projects that benefit the entire circle, as well as individual pursuits that benefit the entire circle.

Sustainability Practices

  • Energy Infrastructure: We are connected to the grid.
  • Current food produced: Between 26-49%
  • Food produced locally: Almost All, around 90%


  • Common Facilities: Common House, Vehicle Share, Library, Workshop, Outbuilding(s), Swimming pond or pool, Fire pit, Swingsets & play areas, Internet, surrounding wilderness, office spaces, editing room
  • Internet Available: Yes, community provides it
  • Internet Fast?: Yes, it’s fine.
  • Cell Phone Service: Good for some people.
  • Shared meals: Approximately all dinners
  • Dietary Practice: Omnivorous (plants and animals), Paleo (no grains, dairy, processed foods, or legumes), Local (food sourced within 150 miles), Organic (no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers), GMO Free (only non-genetically modified organisms), communal meals dairy and gluten free
  • Dietary Choice or Restrictions: Somewhat – there are some dietary restrictions or customs.
  • Special Diets OK: Yes
  • Alcohol Use: No, this community does not permit alcohol use.
  • Tobacco Use: No, this community does not permit tobacco use.
  • Additional Diet Comments:

    We forage/harvest wild foods in substantial amounts and buy the rest locally and organically whenever possible.
    We eat a simple diet consisting of wild and organic (local if at all possible) fruits and vegetables, eggs, wild game and fish, wild animal fat, and nuts. We avoid sugar and processed starch in communal meals, and have minimal complex carbohydrates (paleolithic diet principles).

  • Common Spiritual Practice(s): please ask
  • Education Style(s): Home Schooling, Public Schooling, Up to each family or individual
  • Healthcare Options: Up to each family or individual
  • Additional Comments:

    Feel free to call and ask anything, or arrange to come for a tour, a visit, volunteering, open positions…

Additional Comments

We’re 5 miles from the nearest small town.

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Community Network or Organization Affiliations

The Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC)


wilderness, outdoor school, intentional community, non-profit, wilderness skills, primitive skills