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From our beginnings in the early 1980s, a cornerstone of our educational mission has been the belief that some of the best learning takes place when people tell their own story, in their own words.

Year after year, outstanding Native leaders have come to campus offering their insights as elders and leaders in their Native communities, and sharing their perspectives as writers, scholars, artists, activists, teachers, and cultural preservationists. Native teachers from some of the hundreds of Native Nations have offered courses on campus, visited our classrooms as guest lecturers, and dialog with students, in person and live via Skype and teleconferencing.

We have been blessed with visits from many renowned and distinguished individuals, such as:

  • Wilma Mankiller, former Principal Chief of the  Cherokee Nation
  • Peterson Zah, former President and Chairman of the  Navajo Nation
  • Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper, Turtle Clan,  Onondaga Nation, Haudenosaunee, Six Nations – Iroquois Confederacy
  • Walter Echo-Hawk (Pawnee), Native American Rights Attorney, author, professor
  • Leslie Marmon Silko (Laguna Pueblo), award-winning writer
  • Ada Deer (Menominee), former Menominee tribal leader and Assistant Secretary, Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs
  • Henrietta Mann (Cheyenne), educator and former president of Cheyenne and Arapaho College
  • Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne, Hodulgee Muscogee); poet, writer, lecturer, curator and policy advocate
  • Dave Archambault, II, former Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman
  • John Echohawk (Pawnee), Executive Director of the  Native American Rights Fund
  • Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the Tradition of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe for the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota peoples, and many others.  Chief Looking Horse discusses White Buffalo Prophecy
  • LaDonna Harris (Comanche), founder of Americans for Indian Opportunity  (AIO)
  • William Gollnick (Oneida Nation of Wisconsin), former Tribal Chief of Staff and General Manager, two-time US Presidential appointee in service to Indian Education
  • Gerard Baker (Mandan, Hidatsa), former Superintendent of Mt. Rushmore National Memorial and Little Bighorn National Battlefield, and most recently, interim executive director of the  Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation

Our program has been represented at such important gatherings as the annual convention of the  National Congress of American Indians, the American Indian Studies Consortium, the conferences of the  American Indian Studies Association, the  Native American and Indigenous Studies Association Conference, and the  Native American Literature Symposium,  USET-United South and Eastern Tribes meetings, as well as the 2004 grand opening ceremonies for the  Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.