Growing up in Wisconsin as a member of the Menominee tribe, Ada Deer had a love of the world around her.
“I grew up with a love of the land, the river and the trees,” she said.
Upon reaching adulthood, that love pushed Deer to push for her people as the first Native American to run for statewide office and first Native American to win a partisan political primary for federal office.
On Wednesday, she spoke to a crowd of students, faculty and community members as the University’s fourth Elder in Residence as part of a program that brings a nationally known American Indian leader to campus every spring.
Her appearance was part of Native American culture week, which ends Saturday with the 24th annual Carolina Indian Circle Powwow, which will be held in Fetzer Gym from noon to 7:30 p.m.
“The idea is to introduce the campus community to Indian leaders that have changed part of the world,” said Michael Green, professor emeritus of American studies.
April Hammonds, president of Carolina Indian Circle, said she wanted Deer to share her opinions about tribal governance at the event.
“As someone who has been involved with politics for several years, it will be really interesting to hear her opinion of the state that tribal governments are in,” Hammonds said.
Deer was one of the main advocates for the Menominee Restoration Act, which was signed into law in 1973 and gave federal recognition of the Menominee tribe’s sovereignty.