Kalamazoo firm recognizes and honors regional tribal nations.

steelhead land acknowledgement

Kalamazoo, MI—The Steelhead Engineering Company recognizes Indigenous Peoples’ Day with the release of a land acknowledgment for the firm’s Kalamazoo office. A land acknowledgment is a formal statement outlining and illuminating ongoing Indigenous presence that recognizes settler-colonial legacies of land expropriation. The Steelhead Engineering Company land acknowledgment reads as follows:

“We collectively recognize the office of The Steelhead Engineering Company is sited on land historically occupied by the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi Nations. We acknowledge and honor the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary land of the Three Fires Confederacy, their Indigenous peoples, and their continued Sovereignty.”

The Steelhead Engineering Company office at 259 E. Michigan Avenue, in Kalamazoo, MI, occupies the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary Lands of the Anishinaabek. Specifically, the site is on the traditional land of the Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band of Potawatomi, also known as the Gun Lake Tribe. The Steelhead Engineering Company is wholly owned by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, who also retain ancestral and contemporary ties to the region. Through this land acknowledgment, the firm wishes to reaffirm Tribal Sovereignty and declare that it will continue to amplify and support the needs of Indigenous peoples.

The Steelhead Engineering Company was established in January 2021. The firm’s President, Ryan Wielenga, is a member of the Pokagon Band and was previously the Vice President of Engineering at Seven Generations Architecture + Engineering (7GAE). “My connection to the Bodwé Group goes back to 2013,” says Wielenga. “I met the leaders of 7GAE at an event hosted by the Pokagon Band that I attended with my family. To now be leading The Steelhead Engineering Company, supporting the Band, and delivering successful MEP engineering projects under the Steelhead name is an honor.” To help Wielenga lead The Steelhead Engineering Company are Justin Stirling and Braden Cox, both experienced engineers carefully selected to head up mechanical and electrical engineering, respectively.

The Steelhead Engineering Company name stems from Tribal and regional connections. Steelhead trout are plentiful in Lake Michigan, critical to the ecology of the region, and connect the firm to the Great Lakes water clans of the Pokagon Band. The name roots the company in its Tribal heritage, its connection to the land, and its commitment to creating relationships between people and our energy and environmental resources. After many iterations, the firm’s logo took shape as a fin, which represents the Steelhead Trout, mimics the shape of a wave, and appears as a lower-case s for Steelhead. The blue and silver colors of the brand signify the marriage of water and engineering and the harmony between manmade environments and natural resources.

Jeremy Berg, President of Bodwé Professional Services, is excited that Steelhead Engineering is now a successful, independent firm within the Bodwé Group. “Steelhead Engineering can stand alone and work autonomously, leading projects and developing their own partnerships,” states Berg. “At the same time, Steelhead is still very connected to the rest of the Bodwé Group, and there are countless opportunities to work together since we have shared resources and processes along with shared values and vision.”

The land acknowledgment installed in the office of The Steelhead Engineering Company is crafted from copper, a material frequently associated with engineering and water distribution in particular. In addition, copper is considered a sacred healing metal and one that the Pokagon Band values as a vessel for life-giving water in ceremonies. It is apt, then, to craft the firm’s land acknowledgment from the same metal.

The Steelhead Engineering Co. offers mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) engineering services with a focus on efficiency and sustainability. A tribally-owned Indian Small Business Economic Enterprise (ISBEE) company, Steelhead Engineering also designs systems for passive and renewable energy, steam and condensate, and water treatment. Steelhead is located in Kalamazoo, MI. To learn more, visit www.steelheadengineeringco.com.

The Bodwé Professional Services Group delivers comprehensive professional services in master planning, architecture, interiors, and engineering. Tribally-owned and rooted in the Indigenous spirit of serving others, each firm within the group nurtures its individual talents and embraces interconnectedness. Bodwé is headquartered in Dowagiac, MI. To learn more, visit www.Bodwegroup.com.

Vanessa Hills, Senior Content Manager
Bodwé Professional Services Group
(706) 299-4059/vhills@bodwegroup.com