Arlee was born on the reservation just north of the Church of the Wilderness, in a house built by her father on land that was cleared by her parents. She is the third of six children to Adrian "Cob" and Angela (Martin) Gardner. Both of her parents were Mission kids. She attended the BIA elementary school in the Many Trails Park until the fourth grade. She then went to Bowler School with the rest of the children from the reservation. She graduated from Bowler High.
She married James "Jim" Davids in the Church of the Wilderness. Soon after she and her husband participated in the federal program known as the Indian Relocation Act that attempted to assimilate Indians into white society. They boarded a train to California with their young son, Sheldon. Her husband attended mechanic school as part of the program.
They, like many other Native Americans, became homesick and returned home to Wisconsin after about a year and half. They had another son, Bert, while in California. They soon moved to Milwaukee to find work, as did many other tribal members during this time. Arlee worked a number of odd jobs but was able to find a good job at Briggs and Stratton where she worked for several years as an inspector on the parts assembly line.
While in Milwaukee, they had two more sons, Mark and Steve. Jim and Arlee always longed to live back on the reservation and would drive "up north" almost every weekend to stay here and then drive back late Sunday night to go to work and the kids to go to school. Then in 1976, they quit their jobs and moved back home for good. In 1977, Arlee started working at the Stockbridge-Munsee Headstart as a teacher’s aide. By 1979, she had become the Headstart Director. At this time, the Headstart was sharing space with the elderly center. Headstart had to put away all of their equipment every day so the elderly could have use of their building in the afternoon. The tribe saw the need for Headstart to have its own facility. Arlee was instrumental in obtaining the site, funding, and equipment for the new building where it currently stands today.
One of the biggest accomplishments she is proud of is her participation in bringing the Bibles back home. Although there are many to thank for the Bibles coming back into our possession, she is grateful for being asked to physically return the bibles from Massachusetts. She was also a hospice volunteer for many years, helping several local residents/families during their difficult times.
She obtained her associates degree from UW-Stevens Point, as part of the weekend college program. She was one of the last tribal members to get her degree in this program. She was the manager of the Stockbridge-Munsee Library/Museum and recently retired after working for her tribe for over 20 years. She enjoys spending time with her grandchildren and great-grand children. Advice that she has for the youth is to value your education.