AIIS Elder-in-Residence Program

Program Overview

The American Indian & Indigenous Studies Elder-in-Residence program seeks to improve the experience of Indigenous students by hosting Indigenous Elders on campus for educational exchanges. The program aims to provide students with access to crucial cultural resources, to strengthen partnerships between Tribal Nations and the University, and to improve the campus experience and retention of Indigenous students. Each semester, an Elder visits campus for a full week and is a resource for students and the campus community. Elders are invited from diverse Tribal Nations, and bring unique backgrounds, knowledge, and wisdom to share with the campus community. The Elder-in-Residence program raises awareness of Indigenous cultures and communities at UW-Madison and celebrates Indigenous knowledge on campus.

Elders on Campus

Each semester an Elder visits campus and participates in a number of University and student events. Elders engage with the campus community in various ways:

  • Meet individually with students
  • Participate in campus community events
  • Attend student organization meetings
  • Give guest lectures in UW courses
  • Meet with faculty & staff across campus

Role of Elders

Elders are highly respected, revered, and recognized as the keepers of wisdom, knowledge, and culture of Indigenous Tribes. Through the stories they hold and their life experiences, Elders are a significant source of Indigenous knowledge and the means by which this knowledge is passed to future generations. Since Elders are important cultural leaders, maintaining respect and etiquette while interacting with them is essential. Respect can be shown through gift-giving to the Elder in thanks for their service or participation. For example, Elders who are asked to say a prayer at a feast or to provide advice are given a gift as a sign of respect and appreciation for the knowledge they share. Tobacco is often gifted because of its sacred value, but other gifts such as beadwork and wild rice are also common. Additionally, at meals and feasts, Elders are always served first. Learning how to respect and appreciate Elders on campus is an important part of the Elder-in-Residence program.

AMERICAN INDIAN
& INDIGENOUS STUDIES

ELDER-IN-RESIDENCE

SPRING 2024

April 8-12, 2024

DR. JAMES E. PETE

Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin

Dr. Pete, whose Anishinaabe name is Guyaushk (Seagull), is a member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin and is from the Migizi Dodam (Eagle Clan). He is experienced in Indian Health Services and Tribal and Inter-Tribal organizations. He served as the Health/Clinic Administrator for his own Tribe as well as the Mille Lacs Band and the Wisconsin Ho-Chunk Nation. He also served on the Red Cliff Tribal Council as the Tribal Manager, the Vice-Chairperson, and the Tribal Treasurer. He holds a B.S. in Business Administration, an M.A. in Organizational Management, and a Doctorate in Business Administration.

We encourage you to visit with the Elder-in-Residence during the open office hours below. 

Join us on Monday, April 8, 2024, at the Welcome Feast!

Spring 2024 Schedule

No events returned.

Prior AIIS Elder-in-Residence

Inaugural Elder-in-Residence

Fall 2018
ADA DEER
(1935-2023)

Ada E. Deer, a member of the Menominee Nation, was not only a leader in her community but also across Indian country. In 1957 she became the first Indigenous woman and the first member of her Tribe to earn an undergraduate degree from UW-Madison. She then became a nationally recognized social worker and served in various capacities as a political leader and Indigenous rights activist. She was the first woman Chair of the Menominee Nation and helped to restore federal recognition of the Menominee Tribe. She was also the first Indigenous woman to run for Congress in Wisconsin and was the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs in the Department of Interior during the Clinton administration. She was a groundbreaking innovator and role model for many Indigenous communities.
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Fall 2023
KAREN WASHINAWATOK
Menominee

Fall 2022
JANICE RICE
Ho-Chunk/Hoçak

Spring 2019
LELAND WIGG-NINHAM
Oneida

Fall 2019
MARY LOUISE DEFENDER-WILSON
Dakotah/Hidatsa