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Native American Studies program to host Elder-In-Residence April 3-9

The West Virginia University Native American Studies program will host Ada Deer, renowned American Indian rights activist who was the first woman to serve as Chair of the Menominee Tribe and the first woman to be appointed Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs. Her effective tribal leadership made history when a Congressional Act restoring the Menominee Tribe’s federal status was signed into law in 1973.

Her public presentation, “From Reservation Cabin to the Corridors of Power: Changing Our World from Within,” is at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 6 in room G9 White Hall. A welcome reception with book exhibit starts at 6:30. These events are free and open to the public.

During her week in Morgantown, Deer will guest lecture in Native American Studies,

History, English, and Social Work classes and meet with faculty and students, including the Organization for Native American Interests (ONAI), and the WVU Graduate Social Work Organization. She will also deliver a luncheon colloquium for education faculty and graduate students, “Blazing a Trail for American Indian Student Success.”

“Ms. Deer has shown courage under fire--her powerful examples of creating positive social and political change is truly inspiring, especially to young people emerging as leaders from within their own social-cultural context,” said Bonnie M. Brown, Native American Studies Program Coordinator.

Deer was raised in a one-room cabin by her Menominee father and white Quaker mother. She became the first American Indian woman to graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and first American Indian to receive a Master’s in Social Work from Columbia University. In the 1990s, when she sought to represent Wisconsin in the U.S. Congress, she became the first American Indian woman to win a major party primary for national office.

She has received numerous honorary doctorates from institutions throughout the country and the National Association of Social Workers named her a “NASW Social Work Pioneer” in recognition of her lifetime of public service. Her numerous accomplishments are chronicled in the book "Women in Social Work Who have Changed the World."

Deer’s residence is made possible through the Carolyn Reyer Visiting Lectureship Program for Native American Studies and is co-sponsored by the Department of History, the School of Social Work, the Center for Women's and Gender Studies and the Office of Diversity & Global Initiatives-College of Education & Human Services.

WVU’s School of Social Work has approved this event for 1.5 social work continuing education hours (no pre-registration is required); email for more information.

For more information on Deer’s residency, see or search Facebook for “WVU Native American Studies Program” or contact Bonnie Brown, at 304-293-4626 or