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The dedicated individuals who founded the Department of American Indian Studies remain key figures in our institutional heritage: Faculty members Hyman Berman, Arthur Harkins, Frank C. Miller, Dean Crawford, Edward Defoe, Norman Moen, Thomas Scott; students Beverly Rogers, Richard Tanner, Delores Snook, Vince Tookenay, Gregory Craig; and community representatives Will Antell, Chris Cavender, and Rosemary Christiansen.

The department has been home to a number of renowned Native scholars, whose contributions helped develop and establish our department as a leader in the field of American Indian Studies. Notable and influential figures include Roger Buffalohead, George Morrison, Timothy Dunnigan, Russell Thornton, Clara Sue Kidwell, Ron Libertus, Gerald Vizenor, David Beaulieu, flo wiger, Alan Kilpatrick, Thomas King, Jacqueline Peterson, and Linda Hogan.

In 1990, due to the continuous struggle to meet increasing institutional demands while serving its constituent communities, the department lost its faculty tenure lines. During this time, faculty with tenure homes in other departments, including Brenda Child, Jean O’Brien, Carol Miller, and Frank C. Miller, played an active role in department teaching and administration.

After recapturing the department’s tenure lines in 1997, affiliate faculty began to rebuild the department. Aided by the support of Dean Steven Rosenstone, in July 1998 the department hired Dr. Patricia Albers as a tenure-track chairperson. The following year, Dr. David Wilkins, Dr. David Martinez, and Dr. John Nichols joined the faculty. The department rekindled its teaching and research excellence, and began to re-cultivate its efforts in the area of native language revitalization with the hire of new language teaching specialists.

Today, the department is once again home to leading language programs in Dakota and Ojibwe, as well as cutting edge teaching and scholarship in the field of American Indian studies.