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Dartmouth Commencement 2008

Posted 06/08/08

Honorary degree citation to Ada Deer (Doctor of Laws)
Ada Deer
Ada Deer

You grew up in a log cabin on the banks of the Wolf River within the Menominee Reservation in Wisconsin. Since your childhood, learning well from your mother, you have been a lifelong advocate for your people. After the federal government terminated the independent reservation status of the Menominee nation in 1954, you were a significant force in the re-recognition effort of the 1960s and '70s that culminated in 1973, when President Richard Nixon signed the Menominee Restoration Act. This act and your advocacy served as an important precedent for other tribes seeking restoration.

Following studies at the University of Wisconsin, where you were the first Menominee student to attend, and at Columbia University, where you were the first American Indian to receive a master's degree, you used your many talents to help disadvantaged people. You served on the American Indian Policy Review Commission and on the Native American Rights Fund, which you also chaired. In 1993, you became the first Native American woman to serve as the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, and in that office you forged a progressive partnership between the government and the native community and pushed for greater self-determination for Indian tribes and for better protection of treaty rights. You have developed and chaired the Indian Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and you also hold a distinguished lecturer appointment at the School of Social Work.

Today, Dartmouth, proud of its Colonial heritage as an institution committed to Native American education, warmly embraces you, and our roster is now the richer by conferring upon you our degree Doctor of Laws.

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