Ada Deer-social worker, activist, and advocate for Native American rights-is the Montgomery Endowment Fellow for spring term 2009. She will be at Dartmouth from March 30 through May 1.
Ada Deer (left), with Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, president of Liberia and Dartmouth's 2008 Commencement speaker. Deer received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Dartmouth in 2008. (Photo by Mark Washburn)
"Ada Deer's distinguished career as a political activist for Native American rights has drawn its strength and energy from her life's work as a social worker," says Richard Stamelman, executive director of the Montgomery Endowment. "It is a 'noble profession,' as she once told a reporter, because it 'takes this very human trait, which most humans have, compassion' and turns it toward helping others."
Deer served as assistant secretary of the Department of the Interior for Indian Affairs and head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the Clinton administration, from 1993 to 1997. Deer was born in Keshena, Wis., and is a member of the Menominee nation. She was the first Menominee undergraduate to receive a degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as the first Native American to receive a Master of Social Work degree from Columbia University.
Deer led a grassroots movement that campaigned successfully to restore federal recognition to the Menominee Nation in 1972. She later became the first woman to chair the Menominee tribe in Wisconsin. Retired as a distinguished lecturer in the School of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin--Madison (UW-M), and the director of UW-M's American Indian Studies Program, Deer received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Dartmouth at Commencement in 2008.
During her residency on campus, Deer will meet with students in classes and at Montgomery-sponsored discussions. Stamelman says, "Ms. Deer will show students how compassion wedded to knowledge and skill can lead to the understanding of communities whose difficult conditions of life call out for not only compassion but also political commitment and social action."
Established in 1977, the Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Endowment provides for "the advancement of the academic realm of the College" in ways that enhance the educational experience, in particular that offered to undergraduate students.
By KELLY SEAMAN
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Last Updated: 3/26/09