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An Activist and a Scholar

January 13, 2017

A double major in political science and sociology of law, criminology, and deviance, University of Minnesota senior Raven Ziegler hopes to effect meaningful international policy change.

Enrolled in the Kul Wicasa Oyate Tribe, Ziegler’s Lakota Sioux identity transcends tribal borders. In particular, her Dakota language abilities and cultural fluency have allowed her to connect with the next generation of Native American youth.

Her experience teaching history, English, and Dakota-Lakota culture at Little Earth of United Tribes has immersed her in the activities of the oldest Native-preference urban housing complex. Through her work with the American Indian Student Cultural Center, Ziegler, who often goes by her indigenous name, Wamblí Okas'a Wiŋ, has worked with Minneapolis-based Migizi Communications and Minnesota Native communities to connect underrepresented high school students to University resources.

"My advancement as an individual depends on the advancement of the most oppressed groups globally," said Ziegler of the scale and scope of her goals. During a semester abroad at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, Ziegler joined the Students for Social Justice and Law. She was drawn to the culture of activism, and the disciplined, focused support of student movements like “Rhodes Must Fall,” which began during her time at the University of Cape Town and has since spread to campuses worldwide in support of decolonized education. Life in the heart of an international student movement inspired Ziegler to dedicate her academic and professional life to global equality and justice.

Since returning to the University, Ziegler has earned recognition for her engagement as a student activist, and she recently received the Office of Equity and Diversity’s Scholarly Excellence in Equity and Diversity award for her work as a leader in underrepresented communities. Following her graduation in May 2017, Ziegler will take a year off to complete research and prepare an application for graduate work at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and University of Minnesota Law School.

"Every marginalized community knows what will produce the most efficient change for them. Through collaboration, I merely act as a vehicle to build the structure of progression," said Ziegler about her role as a partner and ally for the populations she serves.

This profile was originally produced by the Office of Public Engagement, a unit of the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.