JOSEPH “STANDING BEAR” SCHRANZ
Joseph Schranz was born November 19, 1944. Joseph grew up on the south side of Chicago, knowing very little about his Native American background. After seeing a documentary on television about the federal government’s Indian schools, including the school in Pennsylvania that his own grandmother had been sent to, Joseph interest in exploring his cultural history was sparked. He has spent his adult life supporting and defending his Native American culture and heritage. Joseph is an enrolled member of the White Earth Reservation located in Minnesota. He is the Founder and President of Midwest SOARRING (Save Our Ancestors’ Remains and Resources Indigenous Network Group) Foundation, which began in 1994 and works to facilitate repatriation, protect sacred sites and promotes education of the Native American culture and environmental issues.
Joseph has worked extensively in Illinois and beyond on repatriation and sacred site issues.
He founded the New Lenox Honor Guard, which consisted of Native and non-Native people who stood in unity in 1994/95 at the New Lenox site out of respect for the village and burial ground there.
On February 21, 1998, he was responsible for the removal of the last publicly displayed human remain which was in a glass case at the Grundy County Courthouse in Morris, IL.
Joseph is responsible for initiating all the Pow Wows held by Midwest SOARRING Foundation. The current annual Harvest Pow Wow is in its 22nd year and currently takes place at the Naper Settlement in Naperville, Illinois.
He was responsible for Midwest SOARRING Foundation’s sponsorship of the historic Kickapoo Reunion at the Grand Village, held in May of 1998 at the Grand Village site in Leroy, IL. Members from all bands of the Kickapoo People reunited at the Grand Village site and took part in this special homecoming.
In 2000, Joseph agreed to work with the Batavia Plain Dirt Garden Club to help bring an exhibit of a Native Village Scene to Chicago’s Annual Flower and Garden Show. The exhibit received two first place awards. Members from the native community joined in by being in the exhibit bringing life to the village!
Joseph has been a consultant to the Brookfield Zoo for many years, but historic strides were made when he collaborated to bring in Native American Performers for their Rhythm and Root’s Festivals. This was the first time in the zoo’s history, that the native culture was highlighted in the Zoo’s programs. Joseph was invited back to be part of a charrette seeking ideas for the zoo’s new 10 million dollar permanent Great Bear Wilderness Exhibit.
Joseph was honored with the first award given to a private citizen, by the Will County Forest Preserve District for his concern of the environment and the help of obtaining 117 acres of land in Joliet, IL. The acreage is adjacent to Pilcher Park and was number one on Will County’s Land Acquisition list. Joseph has been instrumental in helping to save over 1900 acres of land in Illinois.
Joseph led SOARRING members to support the efforts made to save Plum Island and keep it from being developed. The efforts were joined by many groups and individuals including the Audubon Society and the then Lt. Governor Pat Quinn. Plum Island is currently a dedicated eagle sanctuary.
Joseph was appointed first by Governor Blagojevich as Illinois’ representative to the Governor’s Interstate Indian Council in 2006. He was the first Native American to be appointed to this council. Joseph continued to be appointed by Governor Pat Quinn and served for several years in that capacity.
Joseph has worked over forty years on native issues and has worked extensively with different native communities throughout Illinois and the Midwest.
Joseph continues to lead the people in programs and ceremonies now at Midwest SOARRING’s new Native American Cultural Center located in historic Lockport, Illinois.
Joseph is available for speaking engagements to schools, civic groups etc. He is also available to act as a consultant regarding native issues, environmental issues or to bring the native culture to your area! Please contact him for further details.