MARQUETTE, Mich.—Ada Deer, former assistant secretary for Indian affairs with the U.S. Department of the Interior, will be the keynote speaker at Northern Michigan University’s May 5 commencement ceremony. She will also receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the sociology and social work department.
Deer’s tenure as assistant secretary spanned from 1993-97. She was the first woman to hold the position and she strove to ensure tribal sovereignty, enforce the government-to-government relationship and promote tribal economic development and self-sufficiency. She ended her career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she retired in 2007 as director of the American Indian studies program and distinguished lecturer in the School of Social Work.
Born and raised on the Menominee Indian Reservation in Shawano, Wis., Deer has a number of firsts to her credit. She was the first American Indian woman to graduate from UW-Madison, run for statewide office—Wisconsin’s Secretary of State—and serve as chair of her tribe. She also was the first American Indian, male or female, to graduate from the Columbia University School of Social Work and win a partisan political primary for a federal office. Deer ran for Wisconsin’s 2nd Congressional District.
The NMU ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. in the Superior Dome. It will be broadcast live on WNMU-TV and also streamed free online at America One/B2 Networks. For more information, visit www.nmu.edu/commencement.