Educator Academy Presentation Schedule

Tuesday, April 18, 2023 Print
Foyer/Isanti Ballroom

Registration and Check-In

Isanti Ballroom


Rebecca Crooks-Stratton, Secretary/Treasurer, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community

General Session

Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Too Afraid to Ask

Dr. Anton Treuer

Presentation Description

“I had a profoundly well-educated Princetonian ask me, ‘Where is your tomahawk?’ I had a beautiful woman approach me in the college gymnasium and exclaim, ‘You have the most beautiful red skin.’ I took a friend to see Dances with Wolves and was told, ‘Your people have a beautiful culture.’ . . . I made many lifelong friends at college, and they supported but also challenged me with questions like, ‘Why should Indians have reservations?’” What have you always wanted to know about Indians? Do you think you should already know the answers—or suspect that your questions may be offensive? In matter-of-fact responses to over 120 questions, both thoughtful and outrageous, modern and historical, Ojibwe scholar and cultural preservationist Anton Treuer gives a frank, funny, and sometimes personal tour of what’s up with Indians, anyway. White/Indian relations are often characterized by guilt and anger. Everything You Wanted to Know about Indians But Were Afraid to Ask cuts through the emotion and builds a foundation for true understanding and positive action.

Breakout Session 1

Indigenous Language Revitalization

Dr. Anton Treuer

Presentation Description

A clarion call to action, incorporating powerful stories of struggles and successes, that points the way for all who seek to preserve indigenous languages. Across North America, dedicated language warriors are powering an upswell, a resurgence, a revitalization of indigenous languages and cultures. Through deliberate suppression and cultural destruction, the five hundred languages spoken on the continent before contact have dwindled to about 150. Their ongoing survival depends on immediate, energetic interventions. Anton Treuer has been at the forefront of the battle to revitalize Ojibwe for many years. In this impassioned argument, he discusses the interrelationship between language and culture, the problems of language loss, strategies and tactics for resisting, and the inspiring stories of successful language warriors. He recounts his own sometimes hilarious struggle to learn Ojibwe as an adult, and he depicts the astonishing success of the language program at Lac Courte Oreilles, where a hundred children now speak Ojibwe as their first language. This is a manifesto, a rumination, and a rallying cry for the preservation of priceless languages and cultures.

10,000-year Significance of our relative the Bison to our people

Paul Dressen and Tori Campbell, Prairie Island Buffalo Project

Presentation Description

Learn about our shared history with our relative here in Mni Sota Makoce the homeland of the Tatanka and the Dakota Oyate.

Taku Wadaka He? What do you see?

Joanne Zacharias

Presentation Description

Joanne Zacharias is a Member of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. She is the author of “Taku Wadaka He? What do you see?” This Native American children’s book is written in the Dakota language and in English. She will read her book and share her journey of learning the Dakota language!

First We Must Consider Manoomin: Stories and Science from a Tribal-University Research Collaboration Studying Wild Rice

Madeline Nyblade, University of Minnesota, and Jennie Sirota, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community

Presentation Description

Manoomin, the Ojibwe word for wild rice (Dakota: Psiŋ, scientific name: Zizania palustris), provides spiritual, physical, and cultural sustenance as a sacred food and relative for Anishinaabe, Dakota, and other Indigenous peoples. This annual aquatic plant grows in shallow lakes and rivers across the Upper Great Lakes region of North America, but it has experienced regional declines since the onset of Euro-American colonization. In 2018, an interdisciplinary group from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities came together with natural resource managers from tribes and inter-tribal organizations to study Manoomin within its socio-environmental context. The collaborative that formed was given the Ojibwe name: Kawe Gidaa-naanaagadawendaamin Manoomin—or First, We Must Consider Manoomin. In this talk, I will share stories about our research collaborative’s context and process, as well as our recent findings about the relationships between Manoomin, water levels, and climate.

Using the 7 Grandfather Teachings for SEL and College Planning

Tami Johnson and Alicia Garcia, Saint Paul Public Schools

Presentation Description

We will review the 7 Grandfather Teachings of the Ojibwe and share how we use this in our work with students. Alicia Garcia is a school social worker and uses the 7GT in her SEL groups with middle and high school students. Tami Johnson is a school counselor and has developed lessons around the 7 GT in college planning groups with high school students.

Teaching American Indian Content to All

Eden Bart, Minnesota Humanities Center

Presentation Description

This session builds educators’ capacities to teach accurate Native content and information to all students. We’ll share perspectives from Native parents and educators from a Twin Cities suburban district about why it’s important that Native content is taught accurately. This content is often taught inaccurately today, as it has been in the past. Educators will also learn about how the education system is and has been used as a weapon against Native students and families and come to understand the importance of building trust and not damaging relationships through systemic and individual interactions. Educators will be introduced to a tool to assess the perspective/bias of the creators of content about Native people and topics. Minnesota Humanities Center will also share some resources that have been co-created with Native scholars and community members.

We Smudge Here: The Journey to a School District Smudging Policy

Lisa Bellanger, John Bobolink, Michelle Fairbanks and Julia Littlewolf, Saint Paul Public Schools

Presentation Description

We will present our smudging journey from classroom use to a student driven journey to a district wide Smudging policy. We will share our journey, but also be available to talk about the use of smudging, about why it is an essential tool, where we are today with our district wide policy and how we address the pushback.


Gaagige Aanakwadikwe, Bell Museum

Presentation Description

The Bell Museum is thrilled to share the wonders of the cosmos with you through our ExploraDome mobile planetarium. These sessions will include a brief overview of prominent Ojibwe constellations and talk through the names and meanings of the moon phases from perspectives in Ojibwe territory. We will also discuss Ojibwe names and explanations for basic astronomy and space terms developed with first language speakers. We will take a journey from our perspective here on earth, out to the solar system, and beyond. Ojibwe terms will include brief Ojibwe to English translations to provide context for the word parts and meanings behind the concepts.

Tour of Mdewakanton: Dwellers of the Spirit Lake

Hoċokata Ti staff
In lieu of Breakout Session 2, board shuttle beginning at 10:30 a.m., will return to Mystic Lake Center for lunch.

Presentation Description
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s public exhibit at Hoċokata Ti, called Mdewakanton: Dwellers of the Spirit Lake, provides visitors with a cultural experience that enhances their knowledge and understanding of the Mdewakanton Dakota people and their history. Cultural interpreters will guide you through the exhibit.

Breakout Session 2

Lacrosse as the “Creator’s Game”

John Hunter and Art Coulson

Presentation Description

John Hunter and Art Coulson (author) discuss first-hand experiences of how their own communities’ ‘ball-game’ can give direct insights into both the current Native experiences alongside the historic roots of the game. More widely known as ‘lacrosse’, the game means a lot more than competition and ties directly into unique understandings of Native American experience of colonialism, sovereignty, and broader tribal and individual world views.

Reconsider Minnesota History – Exploring Dakota Stories with New Curriculum and Puppets

Maria Asp and Tessa Flynn Henderson, Speaking Out Collective

Presenatation Description

Critical literacy expert, Speaking Out Collective, spent the past year documenting Dakota stories which culminated in new curricula that enriches the way we teach Minnesota History. After hearing a story, teachers explore ideas and themes by making simple puppets. The puppets are designed for ages Pre K – 5th grade with adaptations for early learners. Enjoy learning about new instruction materials and creating impactful puppet tools to use in your classroom.

Restoring Land, Reviving Heritage: Conservation through Indigenous Culture

Hannah Smith, Belwin Conservancy, with Laura Sullivan and MaKylah Woods, Anishinabe Academy

Presenation Description

Anishinabe Academy, a pre-K-5th grade MPS elementary school, and Belwin Conservancy, a land-based nonprofit in Afton, Minnesota, have partnered over the past five years to grow a program centering the generational transfer of traditional Indigenous ecological knowledge for the youth and families of Anishinabe Academy while restoring this significant piece of land in the Valley Creek Watershed.

Water Story

Lowana Greensky, Holly Pellerin and Diana Dalbotten

Presentation Description

This project was a National Science Foundation Advancing Informal STEM Learning Pilot and Feasibility Study that brought together University of Minnesota (UMN) researchers with two highly successful informal science organizations, the UMN’s Bell Museum and the gidakiimanaaniwigamig, a youth STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) camp program, located on the Fond du Lac Reservation. The project incorporated the use of new technologies and media: GIS (geographic information systems) story maps (which combine multi-media presentation tools with interactive maps), and the planetarium program format of storytelling (which combines an immersive theatre experience with narrators that lead dialogue with the participants based on a semi-scripted format). Access to these media gave students skills to amplify their voice and support their leadership on environmental issues meaningful to them and their community. The students worked with the Bell Museum staff and created a new video that was shown in the University of MN/Duluth planetarium. Students engaged the community in its dialog about water and its value from many perspectives: cultural, spiritual, environmental, and recreational.

Introducing MENTOR Minnesota

Emily Geray

Presentation Description

Potential is equally distributed; opportunity is not. MENTOR aims to drive equity and close the mentoring gap through quality mentoring relationships for young people. Relationships change outcomes. We activate a diverse cross-sector movement that prioritizes relationships and fuels opportunity for young people everywhere they are — home, community, school, and in the workplace. MENTOR Minnesota supports and collaborates with more than 200 mentor programs that serve approximately 130,000 youth of all ages (primarily 8-18) in mentoring relationships across Minnesota. Within an introduction to MENTOR Minnesota, this session will highlight how we do this work and why it matters.

Incorporating Traditional Talking Circles Into Classrooms

Mercedes Van Cleve, SMSC Community Member and Shakopee Public Schools Indian Education, Dee Buros, Shakopee Public Schools Indian Education, and Lisa Fulton, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, Four Directions Behavioral Health

Presentation Description

Traditional talking circles have been used by Native peoples for generations. They are a traditional method of solving problems and discussing difficult topics. It is a very effective way to remove barriers and allow people to express themselves with complete freedom. The symbolism of the circle, with no beginning and with nobody in a position of prominence, encourages people to speak freely and honestly about things that are on their mind. During this session you will participate in smudging and learn how to responsibly bring aspects of traditional talking circles into your classrooms.


Gaagige Aanakwadikwe, Bell Museum

Presentation Description

The Bell Museum is thrilled to share the wonders of the cosmos with you through our ExploraDome mobile planetarium. These sessions will include a brief overview of prominent Ojibwe constellations and talk through the names and meanings of the moon phases from perspectives in Ojibwe territory. We will also discuss Ojibwe names and explanations for basic astronomy and space terms developed with first language speakers. We will take a journey from our perspective here on earth, out to the solar system, and beyond. Ojibwe terms will include brief Ojibwe to English translations to provide context for the word parts and meanings behind the concepts.

Lunch Buffet

General Session

Author panel: Exploring Indigenous Voices in Literature

Panelists: Art Coulson, Marcie Rendon and Monique Gray Smith
Facilitator: Allison Waukau, Hennepin County Library

Tour of Mdewakanton: Dwellers of the Spirit Lake

Hoċokata Ti staff
In lieu of attending Breakout Session 3, board shuttle beginning at 1:15 p.m., will return to Mystic Lake Center for Breakout Session 4.

Presentation Description

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s public exhibit at Hoċokata Ti, called Mdewakanton: Dwellers of the Spirit Lake, provides visitors with a cultural experience that enhances their knowledge and understanding of the Mdewakanton Dakota people and their history. Cultural interpreters will guide you through the exhibit.

Breakout Session 3

Decolonize Your Bookshelves

Art Coulson

Presentation Description

In this session, native children’s author Art Coulson will explore strategies for decolonizing your bookshelf and incorporating Native American literature into your curriculum. As educators, it is important to provide students with diverse perspectives and experiences, and to challenge the Eurocentric canon that dominates our educational system. By incorporating literature by and about Native Americans into our curriculum at all grade levels, we can provide students with an understanding of Indigenous cultures, histories, and contemporary issues. We will discuss the importance of including Native American literature in your curriculum and provide practical strategies for doing so.

Native Books for Children and Educators

Tom Peacock and Betsy Albert-Peacock

Presentation Description

Black Bears and Blueberries (BBB) is a Native-owned publisher of Native books, written by Native authors and illustrated by Native illustrators. We mostly publish children’s books, although we have published books for young adults and adults. We’ll focus our discussion on the need for authentic materials and share examples of our offerings for participants. We are retired teachers, university educators (UM Duluth College of Education), and school administrators.

The 7 Generations and 7 Grandfather Teachings

James Vukelich Kaagegabaw

Presentation Description

This talk will present the traditional teachings of the Anishinaabeg as a means of developing interconnectedness and interdependence. The seven grandfather teachings, the sacred law of the Anishinaabeg, show us how to lead Mino-bimaadiziwin ‘the good life’ a life of without contradiction or conflict, a life of peace and balance.

Native Education for All: Preparing for a National Movement

Waquin Preston and Dr. Casie Wise, National Indian Education Association

Presentation Description

In this presentation the National Indian Education Association will describe the national movement for Native Education for All (NEFA). The presenters will focus on the importance and goals of NEFA, its historic trajectory, relevance in Minnesota, and sketch out best and promising practices for educators. At the end of this session attendees should understand what NEFA is, how it may affect them, and how to prepare for NEFA implementation.

Gifts from Our Relatives, The Plants

Hope Flanagan, Dream of Wild Health

Presentation Description

As a representative of Dream of Wild Health, I will be presenting on gifts from the plants, by bringing dried and fresh samples of plants labelled with their Ojibwe names. I will also bring information about our agency, Dream of Wild Health.

Native Arts Resource: Supporting the Implementation Art Standards

Alina Campana and Sam Zimmerman, Minnesota Department of Education

Presentation Description

The Minnesota 2018 K-12 Arts Anchor Standard #10 prompts students across the state to “Demonstrate an understanding that artistic works influence and are influenced by personal, societal, cultural, and historical contexts, including the contributions of Minnesota American Indian tribes and communities.” As educators, what is important to center in teaching and learning about Dakota and Ojibwe arts and cultural expression? This session will provide background on the development of a Native Arts resource to support this learning, as well as provide participants an opportunity to explore some draft elements of the resource, including essential understandings, and make connections to their own work.


Gaagige Aanakwadikwe, Bell Museum

Presentation Description

The Bell Museum is thrilled to share the wonders of the cosmos with you through our ExploraDome mobile planetarium. These sessions will include a brief overview of prominent Ojibwe constellations and talk through the names and meanings of the moon phases from perspectives in Ojibwe territory. We will also discuss Ojibwe names and explanations for basic astronomy and space terms developed with first language speakers. We will take a journey from our perspective here on earth, out to the solar system, and beyond. Ojibwe terms will include brief Ojibwe to English translations to provide context for the word parts and meanings behind the concepts.

Breakout Session 4

Ojibwe Cultural Renaissance

Dr. Anton Treuer

Presentation Description

The traditional practices of one Ojibwe family, carried out through the seasons of the year and across the seasons of life, demonstrating the enduring power of culture and identity. Today’s Ojibwe people have maintained a dazzling array of deep, beautiful, adaptive ways of connecting to the spiritual, natural, and human beings around them. Variations in Ojibwe cultural practices are, of course, as diverse as their homelands, which stretch across the Great Lakes, Canadian shield, pine forests, and prairie potholes of four US states and three Canadian provinces. And Ojibwe culture, like every other culture, has changed over time. But these variations and changes have always followed a distinct path, reflecting an identifiably Ojibwe worldview. While the world around, in, and connected to Ojibwe spaces continues to envelop myriad cultures and peoples, the Ojibwe have found a way to stay recognizable to their ancestors. Anton Treuer tells stories of one Ojibwe family’s hunting, gathering, harvesting, and cultural ways and beliefs—without violating protected secrets. Following the four seasons of the year and the four seasons of life, this intimate view of the Ojibwe world reflects a relatable, modern, richly experienced connection to the rest of the planet. It also opens up a new way of understanding these living traditions, which carry thousands of years of cultural knowledge still in the making.

Writing Prompts for Older Students

Marcie Rendon

Presentation Description

In this workshop I will share writing prompts that I use in classroom visits that anyone can use with their students. I will ask you to participate by doing the exercises which you can then use, adapt as you wish in the classroom. 1) Three poetry prompts; 2) Three short story prompts; and 3) Creating a 3-person, very short, performance piece.

Gifts of the Cottonwood

Jacob Bernier, Ben Gessner, Gabby Menomin, and Fern Renville, Wakaŋ Tipi Awaŋyaŋkapi

Presentation Description

From traditional stories to medicine to the way they doctor the earth, Cottonwood trees are generous relatives that play sacred and secular roles in Dakota life. In 2021, Wakaŋ Tipi Awaŋyaŋkapi (formerly Lower Phalen Creek Project), an Urban Native-led environmental nonprofit in St. Paul, Minnesota, developed a program responding to the assertion that cottonwoods are ‘junk trees’ in an urban environment. Initially created to inform the miseducated, the programming developed into a multi-year, robust menu of cultural, educational, conservation and arts opportunities – including a webinar that reached hundreds of our relatives at the height of the pandemic and the revitalization of traditional dugout canoe-making and related apprenticeship and youth programming. Participants will gain understanding of how traditional ecological knowledge can be applied – through various program models – to both influence a miseducated wider audience, but more importantly provide specific enriching cultural opportunities. Participants will hear from a traditional storyteller, a canoe-maker, a program director and a Native scientist how a holistic (traditional) approach has wildly succeeded in a modern setting. Participants will have new insights regarding how gifts from our plant relatives are not only present today, but beget and magnify our own gift-giving and sharing.

Indigenous Foodways: Cross-Curricular Opportunities

Andy Adams, Liz Cates, Vern DeFoe, Riva Garcia, and Ash McLeod, NATIFS

Presentation Description

Foodways are how food is built into culture, history and daily lives as individuals and communities. Foodways naturally change over time. People invent new recipes, new ways of growing, and new systems to support the food needs of a community.

North American Indigenous Food Systems’ (NATIFS) team from the Minneapolis Indigenous Food Lab (IFL) will present on their work to bring back foodways that were disrupted and to find new ways to keep food traditions alive that support the health of Indigenous communities. Join them to learn and be inspired to take foodsystem knowledge into your classrooms to teach across subjects.

North American Indigenous Food Systems’ (NATIFS) team from the Minneapolis Indigenous Food Lab (IFL) will present on their work to bring back foodways that were disrupted and to find new ways to keep food traditions alive that support the health of Indigenous communities. Join them to learn and be inspired to take foodsystem knowledge into your classrooms to teach across subjects.

Leading with a Light Heart

Monique Gray Smith

Presentation Description

A presentation focusing on hope, possibilities and lighting a way forward. Monique will share her personal journey and how it was a stranger who said to her, “I look forward to reading your book one day,” that changed her life. Monique will introduce her Cultural Resilience model: 4 Blankets of Resilience and how these blankets have supported her in her own resilience and sense of self-determination. Throughout our time together, Monique will offer readings from her various books, including her most recent picture book, I Hope. She will share what it means to lead with a light heart, reminding us of the importance of bringing forth the gifts we’ve been blessed with and using them in a good way. Together, we will explore the integral role love and joy have in educating hearts, minds and spirits.

Tribal Sovereignty and Incorporating an Indigenous Lens in PreK-5 Education

Jillian Stately and Laura Wagenman, Osseo Area Schools with Isabella Griffin, Minnesota Department of Education

Presentation Description

According to the We Are Still Here Minnesota website, “Exercising sovereignty is one of the most important efforts for Indigenous peoples across the world.” In this session, participants will experience a 5th grade lesson created by members of Osseo Area Schools’ Department of Indian Education and a former member of curriculum and instruction. Participants will also get a deeper understanding of the historical sovereignty that Native Nations were given by treaties and current rights they hold to help teachers build their foundation of the sovereignty lessons as both historical and contemporary. The lesson was created to describe tribal sovereignty and help students understand that Dakota & Anishinaabe people have dual citizenship: of the US and their tribal nation. Tribal sovereignty lessons for grades PreK-4 will be shared along with additional lessons that attend the Minnesota Benchmarks with an Indigenous lens.

Art as Activism

Panelists: Marlena Myles and Thomasina TopBear
Facilitator: Rita Walaszek Arndt, Minnesota Historical Society

Presentation Description

Join artists Marlena Myles and Thomasina TopBear in conversation with Rita Walaszek Arndt as they discuss how their work supports community and challenges mainstream perceptions of what Native American “should” be.


Gaagige Aanakwadikwe, Bell Museum

Presentation Description

The Bell Museum is thrilled to share the wonders of the cosmos with you through our ExploraDome mobile planetarium. These sessions will include a brief overview of prominent Ojibwe constellations and talk through the names and meanings of the moon phases from perspectives in Ojibwe territory. We will also discuss Ojibwe names and explanations for basic astronomy and space terms developed with first language speakers. We will take a journey from our perspective here on earth, out to the solar system, and beyond. Ojibwe terms will include brief Ojibwe to English translations to provide context for the word parts and meanings behind the concepts.

Closing Session

Reuben Kitto Stately and Ramona Kitto Stately

Presentation Description

Ramona Kitto Stately will offer reflections on the purpose of this insightful and thoughtfully planned event. Native peoples have a complicated history with institutional education in the United States, and we must begin here to understand the significance of how the invisibility of one group can impact all students. What have we learned and how will we take those lessons back to our classrooms?

Rebecca Crooks-Stratton

Secretary Treasurer, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community

Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Member Rebecca Crooks-Stratton is serving her second term as the Secretary/Treasurer of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. As a member of the SMSC Business Council, she oversees the day-to-day operations of the tribal government and its relationships with its members, other governments and elected officials, and its more than 4,000 employees. Crooks-Stratton also leads Understand Native Minnesota, the tribe’s strategic initiative and philanthropic campaign to improve the Native American narrative in Minnesota’s schools.

Crooks-Stratton previously served one term on the SMSC Gaming Enterprise Board of Directors and chaired its Audit Committee. She also served two terms on the SMSC Gaming Commission and worked for the tribal government in administration roles from 2007-2016. She has led projects such as the Minnesota Tribal Nations Plaza at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis and helped launch a Montessori classroom as part of the SMSC’s daycare program.

Throughout her career, Crooks-Stratton has been an active member of the broader community. She is the Midwest Area Vice President of the National Congress of American Indians, where she represents tribes in the Midwest. She also serves on Governor Walz’s Education Roundtable, the Minnesota Zoological Board, and the University of Minnesota Foundation’s Board of Trustees. Recently she served as program director at the Native Governance Center, a nonprofit that provides leadership development and governance resources to tribal nations in Minnesota and the Dakotas. Crooks-Stratton has previously served on the Metropolitan Council’s Equity Advisory Committee, SMSC Scholarship Selection Committee at the University of Minnesota, and on the Community Education Services Advisory Council and Indian Education Parent Advisory Committee for Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools.

In 2017, she received a Native American 40 Under 40 award from the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. She also participated in the Young American Leaders Program at Harvard Business School.

Crooks-Stratton has a master’s degree in tribal administration and governance from the University of Minnesota Duluth. Her bachelor’s degree is in American Indian studies and political science from the University of Arizona.

Dr. Anton Treuer

Dr. Anton Treuer (pronounced troy-er) is Professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University and author of many books. He has a B.A. from Princeton University and a M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. He is Editor of the Oshkaabewis (pronounced o-shkaah-bay-wis) Native Journal, the only academic journal of the Ojibwe language.

Dr. Treuer has presented all over the U.S. and Canada and in several foreign countries on Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask, Cultural Competency, Racial Equity, Strategies for Addressing the “Achievement” Gap, and Tribal Sovereignty, History, Language, and Culture. He has sat on many organizational boards and has received more than 40 prestigious awards and fellowships, including ones from the American Philosophical Society, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Bush Foundation, and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.

His published works include Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask, The Language Warrior’s Manifesto: How to Keep Our Languages Alive No Matter the Odds, The Cultural Toolbox: Traditional Ojibwe Living in the Modern World, Warrior Nation: A History of the Red Lake Ojibwe (Winner of Caroline Bancroft History Prize and the American Association of State and Local History Award of Merit), Ojibwe in Minnesota (“Minnesota’s Best Read for 2010” by The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress), The Assassination of Hole in the Day (Award of Merit Winner from the American Association for State and Local History), Atlas of Indian Nations, The Indian Wars: Battles, Bloodshed, and the Fight for Freedom on the American Frontier, and Awesiinyensag (“Minnesota’s Best Read for 2011” by The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress).

Treuer is a member of the United Nations Technical Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals through Inclusive, Just Energy Solutions and the governing board for the Minnesota State Historical Society. In 2018, he was named Guardian of Culture and Lifeways and recipient of the Pathfinder Award by the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums.

Paul Dressen

Prairie Island Buffalo Project

Paul Dressen (Apayauq Inilluuraq from the Village of Utqiavik, Alaska ) has been involved in Indian Education for over 40 years with 34 years at the Prairie Island Dakota Community as the Education, Dakota Culture and Language Director. He also is on the Tribal Nations Education Committee, Minnesota Indian Education Association Board and sits on the Elders Memory Keepers board for the University of Minnesota-Duluth campus.

Tori Campbell

Prairie Island Buffalo Project

Tori Campbell is a mom, educator, and travel advisor. A proud and active member of her Mdewakanton Dakota community, Tori has been working in education for almost 10 years. When her children aren’t keeping her busy with competitive dance, she spends time with her community and volunteering in multiple areas.

Joanne Zacharias

Joanne Zacharias is an enrolled member of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. She is the Author of "Taku Wadaka He?" What do you see? This Native American Children's book is written in the Dakota Language and in English. Joanne has taught the Dakota language for several years and has developed a curriculum book and a coloring book. She is a jingle dress dancer and a seamstress. She loves to make ribbon skirts, shirts and regalia.

Madeline Nyblade

University of Minnesota

Maddy Nyblade (she/her) is a PhD candidate in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities with a graduate minor in American Indian and Indigenous Studies.

Jennie Sirota

Water Resources Scientist, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community

Jennie Sirota is a Water Resources Scientist at the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. She received her bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from NDSU and a master’s degree in Natural Resources Science and Management from the UMN. Important aspects of her work include water quality monitoring, research, collaborating with tribal communities and developing youth programming.

Tami Johnson

Saint Paul Public Schools

Tami Johnson, M.A., Ed.S., is an enrolled member of the White Earth Anishinaabe Nation and a graduate of UMD and UMTC. She's been a licensed school counselor for over 27 years, worked with Indian Education programs for more than 10 years, and honored as NIEA's Educator of the Year in 2019. She's done trainings on the impact of boarding schools, cognitive behavioral techniques for school groups, mindfulness and mental health, and working effectively with Native youth for schools, Indian Education programs, and for the U.S. Department of Education. She's passionate about her work with Native youth- teaching them about the history and impact of boarding schools, challenging them to pursue higher education, and helping them find the resources they need to heal from trauma. Tami is currently a school counselor with St. Paul Harding High School's American Indian Studies program.

Alicia Garcia

Saint Paul Public Schools

Alicia Garcia is a Taos Pueblo descendant who grew up in the Twin Cities. She holds a master's in social work from St. Catherine University and is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. Alicia started her career in in the non-profit sector serving American Indian children, youth, and families at Ain Dah Yung (Our Home) Center in St. Paul in the 1990s. In the early 2000s, Alicia became a school social worker, first with the Indian Education Program with Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS), then as a building school social worker at SPPS's American Indian Magnet School. She then transferred districts and spent eight years with the Minneapolis Public School's Indian Education Program. Alicia has now returned to SPPS and is currently back with the Indian Education Program. During her 23 years as a school social worker, Alicia has supported the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of American Indians students and provided advocacy for their families. Alicia is also a parent of two adult daughters and a proud grandma of one little boy!

Eden Bart

Minnesota Humanities Center

Since joining the Humanities Center staff in 2003, Eden Bart has worked on a wide range of projects. She has served as a liaison to schools within school partnership programs, planned and facilitated professional development workshops, and led the development of educator resources. She is currently the staff lead on cultural immersive experiences, working in partnership with community partners and individuals to co-create learning experiences for a wide audience. Prior to joining the Humanities Center, she taught sixth grade in the Wayzata Public Schools. Eden received a B.A. from Macalester College and an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of St. Thomas.

Lisa Bellanger

Saint Paul Public Schools

John Bobolink

Saint Paul Public Schools

Michelle Fairbanks

Saint Paul Public Schools

Julia Littlewolf

Saint Paul Public Schools

Gaagige Aanakwadikwe

Bell Museum

Gaagige Aanakwadikwe (Winonah Ojanen, she/her) is the Native American Initiatives specialist for the Bell Museum and an Ojibwe immersion and science educator. She teaches at the Misaabekong Ojibwe immersion school in Duluth in full Ojibwe immersion and develops science and astronomy curriculum in the Ojibwe language.

Aanakwadikwe has completed two summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates in astronomy during her undergraduate degrees; a summer REU at the College of St. Scholastica studying Exoplanet Atmospheric Mass Loss, and a summer REU at the American Museum of Natural History, Hayden Planetarium, studying galaxy evolution. She has presented her research at various conferences, including American Astronomy Conferences, an American Indian Science and Engineering Society Conference, and Posters on the Hill conference.

Aanakwadikwe now works to integrate her astronomy research and knowledge into education and describing concepts from the Ojibwe language and perspective.

Art Coulson

Art Coulson is a writer of Cherokee, English and Dutch descent and comes from a family of storytellers (in all three traditions!). Some of his earliest memories are of listening to stories and reading books on his grandmother’s lap. He has been a writer his whole life and published his first two books when he was in elementary school.

Art’s first children’s book, The Creator’s Game, a story about a young lacrosse player, was published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press in 2013. Since then, he has published a number of other books and short stories for children. His most recent book, Chasing Bigfoot, was published in 2022 by Reycraft Books.

Before writing children’s books, Art was a writer and editor at magazines and newspapers all over the United States. After his journalism career, Art served as the first executive director of the Wilma Mankiller Foundation in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Now, Art splits his time between his home in Minneapolis and his cabin in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

John Hunter

Maria Asp

Speaking Out Collective

Maria Asp is the Director of Community Outreach & Education with the Speaking Out Collective. Maria has been a teaching artist for over 35 years, and has worked with Early Learners through Graduate students. Since 2003 she has co-taught “Storytelling, Critical Literacy, and Creative Drama” at the University of MN. She has also led professional training and workshops both locally and nationally. She was with Children’s Theatre Company’s Neighborhood Bridges program since its beginning in 1998 and served as the Program Director and a curriculum writer. She has created curriculum for the Neighborhood Bridges, Building Bridges and Early Bridges Programs at the Children’s Theatre Company as well as Frank Theatre’s Middle School and Highschool residency programs.

As an actor she has appeared in 23 productions with FRANK THEATRE including The Cradle Will Rock, Escaped Alone & Here We Go and The Love song of J. Robert Oppenheimer. She is also a teaching artist with Frank Theatre and On Stage. She has directed hundreds of youth productions. As a singer and musician, Maria has been a guest musician with Sod House Theater and has been part of several local bands. As a writer/performer she has been part of the Mother Project and the Walker’s Shut Up and Listen series. She was part of the Arts Organizing Institute with Pangea World Theater, and is also a Lead Organizer with the Million Artist Movement, as well as part of the Admin team working and organizing with TALC (Theater Artist Leader Coalition).

Tessa Flynn Henderson

Speaking Out Collective

Tessa Flynn Henderson is the Director of Programming for Speaking Out Collective. Since 2005, Tessa has used theatre as a vehicle for students to practice questioning our world alongside various arts organizations including Frank Theatre, Steppingstone, and Children’s Theatre Company. In 2007, Tessa joined the nationally recognized Neighborhood Bridges critical literacy program where she implemented, designed, and facilitated arts learning and critical literacy residencies as well as professional educator trainings both locally and nationally.

Tessa has created curriculum for the Neighborhood Bridges, Building Bridges and Early Bridges programs, Frank Theatre’s middle and high school residency programming, as well as PBS Kids Learning Media and the Get Ready program through the state of Minnesota. As a performer, she has spent most of her time on stage with Frank Theatre, including Cabaret, Kafka's Metamorphosis, Maple & Vine, Threepenny Opera, among others. Tessa received a B.A. in Theatre Arts from Augsburg University, a Master's in Literacy Education from the University of Minnesota, and is a Develop-approved master trainer.

Hannah Smith

Anishinabe Academy

Hannah joined Belwin staff in January 2022 to coordinate and help grow the Anishinabe Academy and Belwin partnership. She came to Belwin with over five years of experience in youth programming and nonprofit management and has worked alongside Indigenous communities throughout Mexico and South America. Hannah has a passion for preserving wild places and looks forward to expanding her knowledge around Minnesota’s ecosystems and traditional ecological knowledge as this partnership continues.

Laura Sullivan

Anishinabe Academy

MaKylah Woods

Anishinabe Academy

Lowana Greensky

Lowana Greensky is co-founder of gidakiiminanaaniwigamig. Retired Director of Indian Education Services.

Holly Pellerin

Holly Pellerin is co-founder of gidakiiminanaaniwigamig. Fond du Lac Ojibwe School Teacher and elder.

Diana Dalbotten

Diana Dalbotten, University of Minnesota Associate Director of Diversity and Broader Impacts for the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory.

Emily Geray

Emily Geray is the program director for MENTOR Minnesota, a former educator, and supporter and advocate for urban and rural Native Youth. Emily is equipped with knowledge of Anishinaabe culture & history, youth work, and mentoring strategies. In her current role, Emily is able to align her passion for investing in all young people through a lens of authenticity, inclusivity, and a mentoring mindset. Emily is a 1st degree White Earth Anishinaabe descendant. Emily is excited to speak to the power of connection and highlight how safe & supportive relationships change outcomes for young people.

Jennifer Simon

Allison Waukau

Hennepin County Library

Allison Waukau (Menominee/Navajo) resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and works in Community Engagement. Allison currently is a Vice-President Elect with the American Indian Library Association and one of Library Journal’s 2021 Movers & Shakers and recently received the Rising Leader award at the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color. Allison’s professional interests include exploring library land acknowledgement practices, developing community-led library programs, and elevating the voices and perspectives of her Native community.

Marcie Rendon

Marcie R. Rendon is an enrolled member of the White Earth Nation, author, playwright, poet, and freelance writer. Also a community arts activist, Rendon supports other native artists / writers / creators to pursue their art, and is a speaker for colleges and community groups on Native issues, leadership, writing. She is an award-winning author of a fresh new murder mystery series, and also has an extensive body of fiction and nonfiction works.

The creative mind behind Raving Native Theater, Rendon has also curated community created performances such as Art Is… Creative Native Resilience, featuring three Anishinaabe performance artists, which premiered on TPT (Twin Cities Public Television), June 2019. Rendon was recognized as a 50 over 50 Change-maker by MN AARP and POLLEN in 2018. Rendon and Diego Vazquez received a 2017 Loft Spoken Word Immersion Fellowship for their work with women incarcerated in county jails.

Monique Gray Smith

Monique Gray Smith is an award-winning, best-selling author. Her books cover a broad spectrum of ages, topics and emotions. Woven into all of Monique’s writing, speaking engagements and online courses is the teaching that Love is Medicine. In September 2022, she released her 4th children’s picture book, I Hope with Orca Book Publishers. Monique’s most recent book is Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults. Originally written by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Monique’s novel, Tilly and the Crazy Eights was longlisted for Canada Reads 2021.

Monique is trained as a Psychiatric Nurse and has worked in various capacities in community and as a consultant since 1990. Her focus has been weaving history, resilience and trauma/violence informed training for educators, social workers, librarians and early childhood teams. She is an appointed member of the Board of Directors of Royal Roads University and the Minister’s Advisory Council for Indigenous Women for the Government of BC and is the elected President of the Board of Directors for the Victoria Native Friendship Centre. In 2019 Monique received the City of Victoria Leadership Award for Reconciliation. Monique is Cree and Scottish and has been sober and involved in her healing journey for over 32 years. She is well known for her storytelling, spirit of generosity and focus on resilience.

Tom Peacock

Tom Peacock is a member of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Anishinaabe Ojibwe. He is a retired teacher, secondary principal, school superintendent, professor and associate dean. He has degrees from Bemidji and St. Cloud State, U Minnesota Duluth, and Harvard University, where he received his doctorate in educational leadership. He is the author of over a dozen books on Ojibwe history and culture, racism, poetry and fiction. He is co-owner and co-publisher of Black Bears and Blueberries Publishing, based out of Duluth, Minnesota.

Elizabeth Albert-Peacock

Elizabeth Albert-Peacock is a member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe. She was a faculty member in the Education Department of the University of Minnesota Duluth for 18 years. She has authored several children's books. Loves spending time with family and friends, gardening and traveling. Lives in Bayfield Wisconsin and Duluth MN with her husband Tom.

James Vukelich Kaagegaabaw

James Vukelich Kaagegaabaw, a descendent of Turtle Mountain, is an international speaker, author & the creator of Ojibwe Word of the Day. His mission is to inspire people to live the good life by sharing ancient wisdom to influence modern solutions through an Indigenous perspective. James is recognized as a leading voice on the interconnectedness of language & culture. His keen insights were developed through speaking with and recording elders and native language speakers (many of whom have since passed on) in Canada, Michigan and Minnesota as part of the Ojibwe Language Dictionary Project.

For over 20 years, James has moved seamlessly through diverse settings locally and internationally. In addition to keynote speeches for academic, philanthropic, business and community organizations, he facilitates local community roundtable groups. He has consulted with school districts, colleges, historical societies and government agencies to develop and teach language and cultural programs. He has also been featured on numerous podcasts, radio & television programs in addition to publications. When he is not speaking, writing, teaching or traveling, James enjoys spending time with his wife and son in the South Metro.

Waquin Preston

National Indian Education Association

As the Tribal State Policy Associate, Waquin provides support to Tribes and local Native student advocates as they collaborate with states on education policy. Waquin supports the NIEA legislative team by highlighting priority education issues for Tribes and local Native communities and providing policy analysis and research. Through his career Waquin has worked with Tribal Leaders, Native communities, and Federal and State officials on a variety of issues that impact Tribes. Most recently Waquin served as the Manager for the National Tribal Water and Wastewater Operator Training and Certification Program and advocated for policy issues on behalf of Tribes in Arizona at the national level. Previously Waquin worked as the Program Coordinator for the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. where he coordinated advocacy activities with the Arizona Indian Education Association and Tribal Education Directors. Waquin resides in Phoenix, Arizona, and travels home to the Navajo Nation often. Waquin holds a BS & MS in American Indian Studies from Arizona State University.

Dr. Casie Wise

National Indian Education Association

As the Senior Program Director, Dr. Casie Wise brings 20 years of classroom, leadership, and consulting experience to NIEA. Casie specializes in culture-based curriculum and pedagogy, professional development for educators, best practices in assessment, and educational research. Including twelve years of teaching middle and high school ELA in the United States and abroad, Casie has also served as a K-12 school support director, instructional coach, core advocate for Tennessee, literacy advisor, and education consultant. In her role at NIEA, Casie oversees NIEA’s programs including the Educator Initiative, Research & Evaluation, Tribal Education Capacity Building, and Culture & Language in our Schools. Casie’s scope of work also includes developing curriculum and instructional resources, cultivating partnerships with other education organizations, and providing professional development.

Casie resides in her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, with her husband, who is a retired Navy veteran, and her son and daughter. Casie has a BSE in Secondary English Education from John Brown University in Arkansas, an MA in Teaching English as a Second Language, and a doctorate in Curriculum and Instructional Leadership both from the University of Memphis.

Hope Flanagan

Dream of Wild Health

Hope Flanagan (Seneca) is from the turtle clan. She is an elder who teaches about plants and wild plant gathering. She is also a storyteller in the Native Community. She has taught and worked in the Twin Cities Native Community since the late 70s. Most recently, Hope taught in an Ojibwe Immersion classroom for 10 years, and prior to that as a storyteller for Minneapolis Public Schools in drug and alcohol prevention for six years. She has worked at Dream of Wild Health since 2009 and transitioned to a year-round position in 2018.

Alina Campana

Minnesota Department of Education

Alina Campana is the Arts Specialist at the Minnesota Department of Education. For more than 10 years she has led statewide programs and initiatives that support educators, administrators, and schools to deepen and expand learning in and through the arts. Prior to the Department of Education, she led initiatives including Turnaround Arts: Minnesota and the Perpich Arts Integration Network of Teachers at the Perpich Center for Arts Education. Her background includes teaching visual art, art methods, and English as a second language to children and adults as well as developing and coordinating arts education programs in non-profits. She has a MA in Visual Culture and Art Education from the University of Arizona.

Sam Zimmerman

Minnesota Department of Education

Sam Zimmerman is an Indigenous Education Specialist in the Minnesota Department of Education’s (MDE) Office of Academic Standards, Instruction and Assessment. Before joining MDE, he was the Director of the New York State Department’s Office of Special Education leading and managing statewide initiatives to improving outcomes for students with disabilities. Sam began his career in education as a special education art teacher in the New York City Department of Education and through his years there was promoted to building and district level administrative positions to become Deputy Director for Specialized Services/Student Services. In this role he managed a borough special education team of forty district administrators and clinical supervisors supporting seven community and three high school districts ensuring special education laws and regulations were implemented with quality and fidelity across 251 schools with a total student enrollment of 126,000 students. His background in the arts includes teaching studio art at secondary levels, illustration of seven children’s books, six of which are bilingual Ojibwemowin/English for the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe, and the publication of his own bilingual art book Following My Spirit Home capturing the beauty of Gichi-Onigaming (Grand Portage) in its second printing by the Minnesota Historical Society Press. He has a BFA in Fine Art Studio/Anthropology from the Rochester Institute of Technology and both MS in Education and post-graduate advanced certifications in School and District Administration from the Long Island University.

Jacob Bernier (he/him)

Program Specialist, Minnesota Historical Society

Jacob Bernier is of Red River Métis and French descent. He earned a BA in American Indian Studies and a Master’s degree in Heritage Studies and Public History, both of which from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Currently a Program Specialist for the Native American Initiatives department at the Minnesota Historical Society, his work is rooted in community engagement, with additional focuses in interpretation, archaeology, and programming.

Ben Gessner (he/him)

Curator & Director of Programs, Wakaŋ Tipi Awaŋyaŋkapi

Ben is a Cultural Resources Manager with over fifteen years devoted to mission-driven organizations in the St. Paul area, where he lives with his wife and children. Ben has a background in Native American & Natural History, Art, Community Engagement, and Exhibit & Program Development. He received a Master of Science in Cultural Resource Management working with Dakota communities.

Gabby Menomin (she/her/kwe)

Restoration Manager, Wakaŋ Tipi Awaŋyaŋkapi

Gabby is an enrolled member of the Forest County Potawatomi Community (bullhead clan) of northern Wisconsin. With a master’s degree in Tribal Natural Resource Management, Gabby is focused on plant relatives and how climate change is impacting them. She is passionate about the environment and looking at how to center indigenous voices, values, and knowledge in the stewardship of the land.

Fern Renville (she/her)

Dakota Cultural Educator & Program Coordinator, Wakaŋ Tipi Awaŋyaŋkapi

Fern is a teaching artist, storyteller, mother of two, an enrolled citizen of the Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota Oyate, and a seventh-generation descendant of Chief Gabriel Renville. Fern grew up in the reservation communities of Sisseton, SD; Welpinit, WA; Fort Belknap, MT; and Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, NM, and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Native American Literature from Evergreen State College. Fern’s ancestral love and connection to sacred Dakota land that inspires her commitment to this role.

Andy Adams (she/her)

Andy grew up in Eyota, Minnesota. She previously taught at Nawayee Center School and worked on contracts with Bdote Learning Center in Minneapolis, MN. She received her undergraduate at the Urban Teacher Program at Metro State University. Andy also received her Masters from St. Mary’s University with three focuses: Educational Leadership, Kinship Anthropology, and Marriage and Family Therapy.

Liz Cates (they/them)

Liz Cates is a Dakhóta descendant and Minnesota native. Liz grew up just south of the Twin Cities in Prior Lake, MN. Liz attended the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and completed their Bachelors in Music and American Indian Studies. Before working at NĀTIFS, Liz worked as a Dakhóta language immersion teacher and Project Director at Bdote Learning Center. Now on the Education Team at NĀTIFS, Liz enjoys learning about Indigenous food systems and working to make Indigenous food education more accessible.

Aside from work, Liz likes to spend time playing guitar, making art, doing theater, and spending as much time as possible outside.

Vern DeFoe

Vern DeFoe has been working with our organization since the beginning, first co-managing the Tatanka Truck and then coming on in various management positions at The Sioux Chef. He has been working in the food industry for over 20 years, and is now the Kitchen Manager at the Indigenous Food Lab. He has a passion for showcasing the diversity and flavors of Native foods and connecting Native people to their ancestral foodways. He believes that this connection to ancestral foods is key for Indigenous people, and sees great empowerment in going outside and foraging for foods local to the area.

Vern grew up in Wisconsin and is a member of the Red Cliff Anishinaabe tribe. He is also passionate about treaty history, wildlife preservation, and Indigenous issues in politics. Vern is a musician as well, playing bass in the band War//Plague and sharing his passion for punk and heavy metal music.

Riva Garcia (they/them)

Riva Garcia grew up right here in Minneapolis. Riva is mixed race Ojibwe, Dakota, Mexican, and European and identifies as Two-Spirit. While not enrolled, their grandmother is from White Earth Reservation.

Growing up, Riva attended an alternative school called Second Foundation School. Prior to working at NATIFS, they have worked at Ain Dah Yung Center and the Streetworks Collaborative in service to Native youth experiencing homelessness and/or sexual exploitation. Riva has also worked in several kitchens including Seward Community Cafe and Open Arms of Minnesota.

Here at NATIFS, Riva works in the Indigenous Food Lab kitchen on the culinary team. They like learning about Indigenous foods and making food that will feed the community. Riva says, “Making tortillas from scratch is challenging, but pretty cool.”

In regards to traditional food systems, Riva believes that the return of Indigenous Food Systems is one of the only ways forward towards a sustainable and just future. They say: “One huge difference between Western and Indigenous foodways is that Western colonial culture sees food as a commodity to be exploited for profit at the expense of the earth and the people. Nature and Ecosystems have become something to conquer and have control over while in Indigenous Foodways we see that we are as much a part of the ecosystem as any plant or animal and that our role is not to conquer nature but to live in balance with it. These animals and plants sustain our life so we should sustain theirs in return.”

Outside of their work at NATIFS, Riva is a small business owner. They are a founding member of the Full Spectrum Outreach Team that is part of Gaia Democratic School, which works through outreach and resource navigation for youth experiencing homelessness with an emphasis on LGBTQ/BIPOC and/or youth who are parents.

While not at work, Riva likes to relax, make art, read, play video games, spend time with friends and with their two dogs Florence and Zuko.

Ash McLeod (she/her)

Ash is a culinary associate and researcher for the NATIFS Culinary and Education Departments. She works both with the Indigenous Food Lab and as an employee at Owamni. Before the Covid-19 pandemic began, Ash volunteered for NATIFS by compiling resources and documenting recipes for the Indigenous Foodways database, and currently, she has been assisting with food production at the food lab and assisting NATIFS with various education and operational projects. At Owamni, she has been working as a prep and line cook.

Ash is a Ph.D candidate and instructor from the University of Connecticut. During her time there, she has been researching Indigenous food sovereignty, decolonial pedagogies, social movements, and human rights. She was drawn to Minneapolis to explore the larger Indigenous food sovereignty movement by volunteering and researching with local Native food businesses and non-profits.

Isabella Griffin

Program Manager, Minnesota Department of Education

Isabella Griffin works for the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) in the Office of American Indian Education (OAIE) as the Program Manager for the American Indian Education Aid (AIEA). Prior to starting in MDE, Isabella worked in Osseo Area School's Indian Education Program as an Indian Education Equity Specialist, where she spent the majority of her time interfacing with students at the four middle schools and interacting with Native families at various programming events. Isabella was fortunate to be involved in an Indian Education Program who had made strides toward integrating both a Dakota and Ojibwe lens to their K-5 lessons, whilst also focusing on the Minnesota standards pertaining to our 11 Tribal Nations.

Jillian Stately

Osseo Area Schools

Haŋ Mitákuyepi! Jillian Stately is an enrolled member of the Red Lake Nation and a descendant of the White Earth Nation and Santee Sioux Nation. She works within the Indian Education department for Osseo Area Schools and is in her sixth year. She previously worked at the secondary level and is now working with the elementary students.

Laura Wagenman

Laura Wagenman is an Academic Coach at CrestView Elementary in Osseo Area Schools and a member of the K-12 Education Subcommittee of We Are Still Here Minnesota. Prior to this coaching role, Laura worked in curriculum and instruction and provided professional development. supported teachers with curriculum & standards implementation. Laura is incredibly grateful for five years of collaboration with members of our Department of Indian Education to write lessons & provide professional development for our Minnesota standards related to our tribal nations.

Mercedes Van Cleve

Shakopee Public Schools Indian Education

Mercedes Van Cleve works with Native students in Shakopee Public Schools. She is also an Equine Therapy Partner and has been involved with horses since she was nine years old when she began showing English Saddleseat. She has a strong interest in the cultural connection between horses and Native people. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, and playing with her Australian shepherd, Flynn. Mercedes is a member of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Ojibwe.

Dee Buros

Shakopee Public Schools Indian Education

Dee Buros is a teacher and is currently the Indian Education Coordinator and a member of the Equity Team at Shakopee Public Schools. In her spare time, she enjoys working out, reading, and family time. Dee is also an Equine Specialist with FourDirections and works with a team in the EAGALA model. She loves all of her work with horses, but especially enjoys working with Native American Youth.

Lisa Fulton

Four Directions Behavioral Health

Lisa Fulton attended the University of Kansas and received her master’s degree in clinical social work. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota, Morris in Sociology and American Indian Studies. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Lisa has worked in multiple settings including county-based social therapy and tribal programs for 14 years; providing EAP, individual, family, and couples therapy, with an emphasis on adolescents. She also provides a Native group in Shakopee schools. Lisa is trained in Somatic Experiencing, which is a trauma-based model, along with a certification in Equine Therapy, which is a horse-based psychotherapy. Lisa believes in the strength-based model along with solution focused work. Lisa is a member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tribe.

Marlena Myles

Marlena Myles is a self-taught Native American (Spirit Lake Dakota/Mohegan/Muscogee) artist located in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her art brings modernity to Indigenous history, languages and oral traditions while using the land as a teacher. Growing up on her traditional Dakota homelands here in the Twin Cities, she enjoys using her artwork to teach Minnesotans of all backgrounds the Indigenous history of this place we call home.

Her professional work includes children’s books, augmented reality, murals, fabrics, animations and has shown her work in fine art galleries such as the Minneapolis Institute of Art, The Museum of Russian Art, Red Cloud Heritage Center and the Minnesota Museum of American Art to name a few. Her first permanent site-specific augmented reality public art installation known as the Dakota Spirit Walk is available on the Revelo AR app.

In 2021, she opened her own Dakota publishing company called Wíyouŋkihipi (We Are Capable) Productions to create a platform that educates and honors the culture, language and history of Dakota people.

Thomasina TopBear

Thomasina TopBear is a self-taught artist, muralist, published illustrator and organizer from the Oglala Lakota & Santee Dakota Nations. She is a board member of the international all female paint crew Few & Far Women and co-founder of City Mischief Murals, an all BIPOC artist collective centered on healing through art. Specializing in large-scale murals her work can be seen on the sides of buildings throughout the country. Thomasina has organized a number of events focusing on empowering and creating safe spaces for youth and fellow artists to practice their crafts. She draws influences from her Oceti Sakowin culture while using art to express thoughts on community, social justice, spirituality and togetherness.

Thomasina has worked with numerous institutes and organizations including, Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center, Phipps Center for the Arts, Hennepin Theatre Trust, Minneapolis College of Arts and Design and Saint Paul College. She is a grant recipient of Forecast Public Art, Knight Foundation, Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Board.

Rita Walaszek Arndt

Rita Walaszek Arndt (White Earth Nation) is the program and outreach manager of the Native American Initiatives department at the Minnesota Historical Society. She’s also the curator of the Our Home: Native Minnesota exhibit at the historical society. Through her work, Rita is focused on Indigenous representation in the historical society and encourages people to think differently about the land now known as Minnesota.

Reuben Kitto Stately

Reuben Kitto Stately is a Native artist, composer and rapper who performs under the name Kitto. He is a graduate of Augsburg University with a BA in American Indian Studies. He serves as a mentor for a Dakota language revitalization non-profit called Dakhóta Iápi Okhódakičhiye and taught Dakhota Language for Minneapolis Public Schools. Reuben has been one of the leads on Learning From Place Bdote since 2018 and is passionate about the connections of language and place.

Ramona Kitto Stately

Ramona Kitto Stately is an enrolled member of the Santee Sioux Dakhóta Nation. She has a BA in Dakota Art and Culture a minor in Business, and a Master of Education with an emphasis on Teacher Leadership from Augsburg University. After 15 years directing Indian Education at Osseo Area Schools in Minnesota, she is now Project Director for We Are Still Here Minnesota, creating action for narrative change. Ramona is the mother of two children, Jillian and Reuben, citizens of Red Lake Nation; an accomplished beadwork artist with moccasins on display in the Science Museum of Minnesota; and currently serves as the Chairperson of the Minnesota Indian Education Association since 2016.

She is a part of the scholars' team with of the Minnesota Humanities Center’s for Learning from Place: Bdote since 2013 and the author of Pazahiyayewin’s (pah-Zah-hee-yah-yay-ween’s) Story of the Bdote which was inspired from her Great-Great Grandmother who survived the genocidal tactics during the U.S. Dakota War. Ramona currently serves as 2023’s Indigenous Elder in Residence for Carleton College, was the Recipient of the 2021 Ron McKinley Award from Minnesota Education Equity Partnership, and most recently, McKnight's 2023 Culture Bearer Awardee.